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14 Menachem Av 5775 - July 30, 2015 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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HaRav Chanoch Dov Padwa, zt"l Av Beis Din of London and author of Cheishev Ho'eifod

In honor of his yahrtzeit 15th Av 5760/2000

Rav Padwa's great power in horo'oh was well known all over the Jewish world. The Belzer Rov zt"l would rely on his psakim and frequently sent people with difficult sheilos to be paskened by him.

At the tischen in Belz, which tended to go on all night, the Rebbe was makpid not to share out shirayim after alos hashachar because then it is forbidden to eat (until one has davened shacharis).

Once, it was alos hashachar and the shirayim had not been given out. "Nu nu," announced the Rebbe, "we'll rely on the alos of Reb Henoch." (Rav Padwa was of the opinion that alos was later than most poskim ruled.)


His Rebbe muvhak HaRav Dov Berisch Weidenfeld, the Tchebiner Rov zt"l held him in very high regard.

When, in 5715 Rav Padwa was appointed Rav of the UOHC in London, the Tchebiner Rov was heard to say: "I'm surprised at the Yerushalaymer Yidden that they allow such a great moreh horo'oh to leave Yerushalayim.


The Rov experienced a special siyata deShmaya in his psakim.

A famous story in point was when a woman came to ask what she should do with an expensive necklace she had found at a wedding but had been unsuccessful in tracing its owner. The Rov told her to wear the necklace at simchas and functions, and perhaps the owner or an acquaintance would recognize it. The woman followed his instructions but after a long time she gave up, seeing that no one had claimed ownership. In Av 2000 when Rav Padwa was niftar she remembered the psak din he had given her and decided to try again.

She wore the ownerless necklace to the next chasunah she attended and was approached by an American wedding guest. The latter complimented her on her exquisite necklace, remarking wistfully that she once had a very similar-looking one but had lost it several years previously at a chasunah in London.

Needless to say, after checking the details, the woman joyfully removed the chain from her neck and returned it to its rightful owner.

Rav Padwa himself once related an incident that took place on Yom Kippur. Following Kol Nidrei and ma'ariv, a man approached Rav Padwa, asking if he was allowed to drink, since he felt extraordinarily weak. "I asked him if he had drunk plenty at the seudas hamafsekes and he replied that he had," related the Rov.

"I was tempted to tell him no, but then I gave the matter a second thought.

"If a person who is a yirei Shomayim comes and asks if he may drink on Yom Kippur barely two hours after the seudas hamafsekes he must be feeling really bad. After reconsidering all the relevant halachos I told him he may drink shiurim."

The next morning, before the tefillos commenced, the news went around from one to the other that this particular Yid had collapsed and later passed away.

Said Rav Padwa with a sigh of relief, "Imagine how I would have felt all my life had I not given this person the heter to drink. I would have never forgiven myself as long as I live, thinking that perhaps my stringent psak had caused his demise chas vesholom."


When being presented with a shailoh involving pikuach nefesh, Rav Padwa would say, "Don't be afraid of being meikil, rather be afraid of being machmir and risking a person's life, choliloh."

"Zeidy," a grandchild once commented, "the world says you are a meikil."

"I'm no meikil," replied his grandfather, "and neither am I machmir. I pasken as the Torah says and this is the clear halochoh!"


Towards his last years, on a Yom Kippur afternoon, everyone was leaving during hafsokoh to take a rest. Everyone but the Rov. Upon being asked if he could not use a break to nap and refresh his strength, Rav Padwa replied that for many years now, he does not take a rest on Yom Kippur.

The story went back to when he was a young boy living in Yerushalayim. During hafsokoh he had gone to lie down and had fallen asleep. To his chagrin he discovered upon awakening that he had overslept and had missed hearing krias haTorah. Quickly he made his way from one beis hamedrash to the next to find a place where they had not yet leined until he caught krias haTorah in the beis hamedrash of the Satmarer Rebbe, HaRav Yoelish Teitelbaum zt"l. To ensure this would not reoccur, he made a decision never to sleep during hafsokoh on Yom Kippur, a practice he kept till the very end.


In his good-natured and pleasant way the Rov prevented many an argument or din Torah that could have turned quite sour.

Once the owner of a certain business phoned the Rov considerably upset. A customer had come after closing time, "and when I refused to let him in, the irate man called me a Nazi!"

After pausing for only a slight moment the Rov firmly replied, ". . . and I hereby pasken that you are not a Nazi!"

On another occasion the Rov received a call from someone on holiday in the countryside. The man had been using a public phone booth and discovered that after inserting only a ten pence coin the line seemed to be open and he could make even long distance calls without the money running out. The man began to ask if this was a case of geneivas akum or perhaps only to'us akum, and began presenting a pilpul on the matter. Sensing that the caller was looking for a heter for what was in fact stealing and would try to argue his point in halochoh, the Rov answered him short and sharp: "Why are you calling me? Call British Telecom that they should come and repair the telephone," thus eliminating any leeway for argument.


My father-in-law HaRav Feldman shlita related that he was once asked by the rabbonim in Eretz Yisroel to present a difficult shailoh before the Rov.

In question was the grave of one of the gedolim in chutz la'aretz that was in danger of being desecrated chas vesholom. The shailoh they were asking was as to how the Godol's grave should be moved with minimum tza'ar to the niftar.

"Upon hearing that the kever of a tzaddik would have to be disturbed, Rav Padwa shook in fear and burst out in a terrible weeping. `Oy,' he moaned, `What have we come to that such shailos must be asked!' and he was shaken for a long while."


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