HaRav Mordechai Goldstein zt"l
A large crowd of roshei yeshiva and Torah disseminators, together with many hundreds of his students, accompanied HaRav Mordechai Goldstein zt"l to his final rest this past Friday afternoon, erev Shabbos Toldos 2 Kislev. Rosh Yeshivas Hatefutzos on Har Zion, Jerusalem, for the past fifty years and author of "Imrei Mordechai" on Shas, HaRav Goldstein was one of the most significant Kiruv figures in our times. He passed away after a brief illness at the age of 84.
The deceased was born in 5692 (1932) in the Bronx, New York, to R' Moshe, who was a devout Jew and an adherent of the Tolna Chassidic court. He devoted himself wholly to raising his children to pure Torah and yiras Shomayim.
When he was merely five, he was enrolled in the first cheder then opened in New York, the Salanter Yeshiva. He had to travel three hours daily to study in this institution, and was one of only eight students.
When he reached the age of yeshiva ketana, he studied in Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim, where he formed a strong bond with his master and teacher, HaRav Chanoch Henach Leibowitz, son-in-law of HaRav Naftoli Trop, whose father had opened this yeshiva in America. He studied there and grew to spiritual heights in the tradition of his ancestors.
Concluding his study years there, he went on to Yeshivas Lakewood under HaRav Aharon Kotler, to whom he became very attached through the vast sea of Torah. He was one of the first who succeeded in surprising him in a shiur with an incisive comment and impressing HaRav Aharon immensely. He continued to maintain a strong bond with the Rosh Yeshiva for the years to come. It is interesting to note that he passed away on the very yahrtzeit of HaRav Aharon.
In 5725 (1965) his rebbe HaRav Henach Leibowitz went to Eretz Yisroel with 13 talmidim, and spent a year learning in Jerusalem. Afterwards, most of the talmidim went back to America, but R' Mordechai, after marrying his wife Malka Tzeruya tlct"a, moved to Eretz Yisroel to establish there home here.
At first he learned halochoh in the Harry Fischel Institute, and even studied dayanus. After getting smicha from HaRav Henkin zt"l and others, he was planning to become a dayan, but min haShomayim they had other plans.
At that time he met a man who had been brought up by his father as a Reform Jew, but who now wanted to learn Torah in a regular yeshiva. When he told his dream to R' Mordechai, the latter through himself into a full-fledged program to bring the young man up to the standards of a regular yeshiva. They learned together Chumash and gemora, and prepared for him to pass the entrance examination for Yeshivas Kol Torah. The roshei yeshiva were very impressed by his accomplishments, and considered admitting him to join their group of English students, but in the end they did not admit him for fear that his background and familiarity with concepts that were alien to the yeshiva might be a bad influence on the other bochurim.
Understandably, the bochur was very upset and he went to R' Mordechai and said that he did not want to give up on his dream to learn Torah. R' Mordechai answered by opening up the Rambam who writes that there are three crowns, and the Crown of Torah is resting in a corner and anyone who wants to may got over and take it for himself. R' Mordechai announced that he was thereby opening a yeshiva and everyone who wants to grow in Torah and yiras Shomayim is welcome.
Thus was opened a yeshiva that welcomed anyone who wanted to study Torah. The next day that bochur prepared a special stamp with the Crown of Torah as the Rambam wrote. Rav Mordechai called his yeshiva Toras Yisroel.
At that time R' Mordechai was very close to HaRav Yechezkel Sarna zt"l of Chevron Yeshiva, so he went to ask for his advice. HaRav Sarna suggested that they yeshiva could start out in the ezras noshim of his own yeshiva, and soon there were almost thirty young men learning Torah under the supervision of HaRav Mordechai.
After a short period, the yeshiva moved to the Diskin Orphan Home in the Givat Shaul section of Jerusalem.
The yeshiva was doing well until the onset of what became known later as the Six Day War in 1967. Most of the talmidim went back to their families in Chutz La'aretz at the request of their parents.
After the war, a fried suggested that the yeshiva could move to Har Tzion, where there was large buildings that stood empty. That is what they did, changing the name to Yeshivat Hatefutzos - Diaspora Yeshiva, and becoming the first yeshiva oriented towards baalei teshuva who spoke English.
About a year later HaRav Mordechai opened a seminary for women that became known as Machon Roniya after his mother o"h.
Over the years the two institutions turned out many students who went on to marry and build Torah homes. Whole communities were built including Meitzad, and also congregations in Beit Shemesh and Ashkelon. Throughout the world there are hundreds of students who continue the tradition of spreading Torah as they saw by their beloved rebbe.
In recent years he had been very weak, and his son HaRav Yitzchok took over as rosh yeshiva.
This past Yom Kippur HaRav Mordechai collapsed in the middle of davening, and since then his condition had been very grave. Last Tuesday he was taken from his home in Givat Mordechai to the hospital, and on Friday he was niftar.
His levaya left after noon from the Yeshiva. A large crowd gather to bring him to his final rest. Among the maspidim were HaRav Shmuel Auerbach shlita, as well has HaRav Yehuda Der'i, his talmid HaRav Dovid Secton and his son HaRav Yisroel, the rav of Meitzad and his son HaRav Yitzchok the rosh yeshiva.
After the hespedim the levaya went to Har Hazeisim where he was buried. He is survived by a large family of sons and sons-in-law, as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren who follow in his footsteps.