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16 Cheshvan 5776 - October 29, 2015 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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The Tchebiner Rov: HaRav Dov Berisch Weidenfeld zt"l

In honor of his yahrtzeit 10th Cheshvan 5726

So much has been said and written about this personality, yet there always seems to be more to be told.

Here we will cite a few examples of the Tchebiner Rov's astounding wisdom and clarity of vision, in both apparently minor matters and in weighty piskei halochoh.

The administration of a certain institution in Yerushalayim once asked the Tchebiner Rov to write an official certificate thanking a wealthy donor who had promised to donate a substantial amount of money on the condition that such a certificate would be issued and signed by the Tchebiner Rov personally.

The Rov duly dictated to a talmid a complimentary certificate, but refrained from using the title "HaRav" in reference to the benefactor. "For I do not want him to use this certificate issued by me as a form of semichoh."

The aforementioned talmid later related:

"About ten years after the passing of Rabbeinu zt"l, Someone asked me to relate to him a nice anecdote of the Rov. Since my questioner was the brother of that donor, this incident sprang to mind and I told him what had taken place.

"To my surprise the man was visibly moved by my short story and reacted excitedly, `Listen to my sequel and you'll see how truly farsighted was the vision of the Rov.'

"He then continued, `My brother was a well-known mohel in America, and he very much wanted to expand by performing brisos in the hospitals too. However, the hospital administration refused to allow him to do so unless he could present a document stating that he was a rabbi and a reliable mohel. My brother reckoned that if he could get hold of a certificate from the Rov of Tchebin wherein he would surely be named as HaRav . . . , he could use this as a sort of semichoh to show the hospital. From your story, it's clear that the Rov was one step ahead of him.' "

It is interesting to note that the Tchebiner Rov once observed when discussing HaRav Isser Zalman Meltzer zt"l, "The world thinks that Reb Isser Zalman's practice of giving a hamlotzoh to anyone who asks for it is a sign of batlonus. I say, however, that it is an amazing display of pikchus on his part. When I write an approbation, I have to sit down and think what to write and how to write it, for I know that every word has meaning and effect. Reb Isser Zalman, on the other hand, is well known to give a hamlotzoh to anyone requesting it. Everyone knows that his letter carries no particular connotation. On the other hand, those who have asked him for a letter are happy to have received their letter. This is a great pikchus!"


During a particularly difficult period in Eretz Yisroel, the burden of marrying off children had become impossible to shoulder. The askonim came up with the idea to impose a limit when buying an apartment for a young couple wherein one would only be allowed to purchase a two-room apartment.

When they came to the Tchebiner Rov with the written announcement for him to sign, the Rov vehemently refused. In answer to their puzzled looks he explained:

"Most of the general public will not obey this idea and will continue to buy housing as usual. Only when it will come to giving money to marry off an orphan, then they'll quote and abide by this ruling. I refuse to sign a decree that only an orphan should receive no more than a two-room apartment."


The Rov would give a heter horo'oh only to someone who had learned and been tested, and intended to serve immediately as a rov, explaining his reasoning:

"These young and sharp avreichim who have learned well and passed their tests have at present a good mastery over what they have learned. However, they plan to go out and find another job for a few years, after which they will be able to fall back on this heter horo'oh if that does not work out. However by then they will have long forgotten much of what they learned a few years previously.

"For this reason, I only give someone who is going into the rabbonus immediately, for he will continue learning and remember all he has to."


When the wealthy residents of the town of Tchebin wished to donate money to the Yeshiva, the Rov would say to them, "From you I would like something else — that you send your sons to yeshiva and not to university."

Sometimes in his Shabbos Hagodol or Shabbos Shuvoh droshos, Rabbeinu would quote a difficult, intelligent question that had been posed by a talmid of the yeshiva who was indeed the son of one of these wealthy individuals. This boy would then be the talk of the town, and the others too, would be encouraged to send their sons to yeshiva.


Rabbi Mottel Mandzhin z"l related that in the yeshiva in Tchebin there was a bochur who was known as a batlan. It was said of him that if he were to leave the room in the middle of learning and someone were to turn the pages of his gemora in his absence, he would continue "learning" at the new open page on his return. As the bochur grew older, his father became increasingly concerned, and poured out his heart to the Rov about his son who could not learn and had a bad name: " . . . and what will be with a shidduch?"

In his calming manner, the Tchebiner Rov assured him that he needn't worry.

Yet the Rov was not satisfied to give a brochoh and close the book on the boy. It was accepted in the yeshiva that on motzei Shabbos, the bochurim would go in to Rabbeinu and he would test them all together. In order not to embarrass the aforementioned bochur, Rabbeinu never tested him. This motzei Shabbos, however, he singled him out for a question.

The boy lowered his eyes, blushing a deep crimson. But the Rov called out aloud, "Come on, from me it is no use hiding. I know that you are a boki and insist that you give me an answer."

Mumbling at first, the boy began to say something. The Rov picked up on his words and started a whole Torah discussion with him. Subsequently, the news flew around between the yeshiva walls and then spread to the rest of the town, gathering speed and extra details as it circulated. Eventually, people were talking about the wonderful bochur who was a tzaddik nistar and had hidden his greatness until the Rov had revealed it.

Naturally, his relationship with his fellow students changed completely and before long he found his right shidduch.


A melamed in the talmud Torah Eitz Chaim came to the Rov and told him that his earnings of forty lirot a month was too low to support his growing family. Also, he was finding a full day's work very taxing on his strength since he suffered from a weak heart . . . and so the list went on.

He had been offered a job in a not-so-frum mossad, where he would work only a half-day and his wages would be double the amount he was earning at present.

"Why did you come to me?" asked the Rov angrily, "Go and ask a different rov." And he avoided answering the man. The latter insisted that he wanted davka the Rov's decision, but the Rov refused.

When the man finally gave up and left, the Rov sighed: "What does he want from me? Money to give him I have none. To tell him to continue where he is I cannot, for it seems to be pikuach nefesh, in which case there is no shailoh. So why did he come to me? Because he's afraid of being punished with Gehennom and would prefer me to be his kaporoh. Let him look for another kaporoh!"


When one of the Mizrachi insulted the Brisker Rov zt"l, a few talmidei chachomim in Yerushalayim drew up a letter of protest and went to get the signatures of the gedolei hador.

To their surprise, the Tchebiner Rov did not sign immediately.

"Of course we must protest the affront to the Brisker Rov's honor, but I want you to ask the Rov himself if it is all right with him."

The men did not fully understand his request but they complied. When they came to the Brisker Rov however, he forbade them to react to the Mizrachi, saying, "Macht em nisht kein man de'omar," don't make that person a party to any discussion at all. Subsequently, the Brisker Rov was always grateful to Rabbeinu for preventing the protest.


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