Thousands of mourners from the Torah world in Jerusalem and elsewhere, led by gedolei Yisroel and roshei yeshivos, were on hand Tuesday morning to lay to rest HaRav Avrohom Yaakov Zaleznik zt"l, the rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Eitz Chaim and a member of Degel HaTorah's Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, who passed away Tuesday at the age of 97.
One of the remnants of the pre-War generation, he was an exceptional talmid chochom with tremendous mastery of all areas of Torah and who served Hashem with all his heart and soul.
He was born on 15 Kislev 5673 (Nov. 1912) in Jerusalem to HaRav Shlomo Zalman Zaleznik. His father wanted to name the boy Yaakov after his own father, HaRav Menachem Yaakov, who passed away when Shlomo Zalman was six years old, but on the night before the bris his grandfather who raised him, HaRav Avrohom Brisker, appeared to him in a dream demanding that his own name be associated with the baby boy. At first he dismissed the dream, but in the morning before the bris, the baby's temperature began to rise until he agreed to use his grandfather's name. The bris was held on schedule and the baby was named Avrohom Yaakov.
He studied at Yeshivas Eitz Chaim under HaRav Isser Zalman Meltzer, and was his talmid muvhok. When HaRav Meltzer returned to Keltzk for a chanukas habayis ceremony, he told HaRav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel that in all of Jerusalem he had found only three lamdonim to speak with, HaRav Avrohom Yaakov Zaleznik and HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and one other rov.
On the first of Nisan 5693 (1933) he married the daughter of HaRav Yisroel Luria, a rov and moreh tzedek for the Eida Chareidis in the Kerem neighborhood, where the young couple then made their home. The neighborhood shul was renowned for the gedolei olom who frequented it over the years, including HaRav Menachem Man Shach, HaRav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel and HaRav Ezra Attia, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivat Porat Yosef, and he would leap into the fray of the scholarly debates they regularly waged.
In 5717 (1957) he was appointed to serve as a ram at Yeshivas Eitz Chaim, and in 5723 (1963), following the passing of HaRav Isser Zalman Meltzer, he was named head ram. In 5735 (1975), upon his father's petiroh, he was appointed rosh yeshiva.
In 5737 (1977) he became a member of Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah and in 5749 (1989) switched to the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of Degel HaTorah. He said he was not interested in the matters discussed there, but was merely following the instructions of HaRav Shach.
Throughout his lifetime he cleaved to the Torah, which was his constant delight and lifelong pursuit. He adhered to halacha and Mussar principles scrupulously. He was sick during the final six weeks of his life and was treated at Bikur Cholim Medical Center, which cared for him with great dedication. His condition deteriorated a week before his petiroh, which left thousands grieving his loss.
The levaya set out from the niftar's home in the Kerem neighborhood, with thousands in tow. Hespeidim were given by HaRav Boruch Dov Povarsky, one of the roshei yeshiva at Yeshivas Ponovezh; HaRav Shmuel Auerbach; HaRav Tuvia Weiss, the gavad the Eida Chareidis in Jerusalem; his son-in-law, HaRav Zalman Goodman, a ram at Yeshivas Or Elchonon in Jerusalem, his son, HaRav Yitzchok Dovid Zaleznik, author of Yad Yitzchok; the rov of the neighborhood, HaRav Yonah Re'eim; and his son, HaRav Aharon Zaleznik, one of the roshei yeshiva of Yeshivas Maor HaTalmud in Rechovot.