HaRav Dov Yaffe zt"l
The Torah world is mourning the passing of one of the great masters of the tradition of Torah, mussar and yirah, the elder of the mashgichim HaRav Dov Yaffe zt"l, menahel ruchani of Yeshivas Knesses Chizkiyohu in the northern city of Rechasim and a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of Degel HaTorah.
If HaRav Yisroel Salanter, the founder of the Mussar Movement were to come to use today, he would certainly say, "This was my idea when I founded the Mussar Movement." He was a complete person, whose entire essence was pure Torah and yiras Shomayim.
He spread Torah and mussar for more than 60 years with unbounded dedication and taught thousands of talmidim. He passed away on 19 Marcheshvan after an extended illness at the age of 89.
The levaya at Yeshivas Kol Yaakov in Jerusalem
The elder mashgiach was born on 14 Sivan 5688 (1928) in Vilna. His parents were Rav Tzvi Yechezkel and Moras Tovah Gittel. His maternal grandparents were well-known supporters of Torah and chesed in Vilna, as the Chazon Ish later told him.
When he was seven years old, his parents suddenly decided to move to Eretz Yisroel. He later said that his parents told him that they did not know why they decided to leave Vilna, where they lacked for nothing. Of course years later the wisdom of the move was very evident.
When his father saw his thirst for Torah, he sent the young Dov to learn in a yeshiva where HaRav Yoel Kluft was teaching. When HaRav Kluft went to open a yeshiva in Pardes Channah, he asked his student to accompany him.
At some point his father met HaRav Yechezkel Sarna who had heard of the young bochur, and HaRav Sarna asked his father to send his son to Chevron in Jerusalem to learn. His father agreed, and Dov went there to learn until the 1948 war in Israel.
During the war there was a siege of Jerusalem, and his parents asked Dov to come to Bnei Brak to learn. He agreed and spent about a year in Ponovezh yeshiva, where he became particularly close to the mashgiach, HaRav Eliahu Eliezer Dessler zt"l.
One of his friends asked his advice about a personal problem, and he suggested that they go to the Chazon Ish to ask him what to do. This was the first time that he visited the Chazon Ish. The Chazon Ish advised the friend to transfer to the Slobodka yeshiva, and the Mashgiach agreed to accompany him there and to learn with him bechavrusa. They learned together for about two years.
Maspidim: HaRav Ezrachi, HaRav Lando and HaRav Cohen
After that, however, he began to consult the Chazon Ish regularly, and he discussed all his personal issues with him, as well as divrei Torah that came up in his learning. Throughout his career, he would mention lessons that he learned from the Chazon Ish during this period.
HaRav Aharon Cohen, a rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Chevron, suggested a shidduch between him and the rosh yeshiva's niece who had grown up in the rosh yeshiva's home. They were married in 5711 (1951) with HaRav Cohen helping his niece to build her new home.
After the marriage, the young couple lived in Geulah, near Yeshivas Chevron. The young avreich began to learn in the kollel at the Mir Yeshiva, where he heard the shmuessen of HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein, and became very close to him.
Later he learned in the yeshiva in Zichron Yaakov, where he became close to HaRav Eliahu Lopian, the mashgiach there. HaRav Lopian asked the young avreich to say vaadim to the young bochurim in the yeshiva. A few years later when the yeshiva moved to its permanent home in Kfar Chassidim, the rosh yeshiva HaRav Noach Shimanowitz was niftar, and HaRav Lopian asked the still young avreich to share the duties of mashgiach in the yeshiva.
HaRav Yaffe was only 26 at the time, and he was not sure that he should undertake a position like that at a time when he was still growing in learning. He consulted with the Chazon Ish, who said that if he could immediately return to his learning after giving a sicha. He did not think that he could do this already, but resolved to learn to do it.
Thus he started on his lifelong path of harbotzas Torah and yirah in yeshivas Knesses Chizkiyohu in Kfar Chassidim. He used to say a shmuess to the entire yeshiva once in three weeks. HaRav Lopian said the shmuess in the other two weeks.
He rarely spoke about himself, but recently, in the context of driving home a lesson, he said, "When I started out as a mashgiach, I was the youngest mashgiach of the generation. Now they call me the elder mashgiach of the generation. It has all passed so fast. This should teach you that life passes in a blink, and a person must use his time for good, because he will not be able to do all that we wishes throughout his life."
When the yeshiva high school in Knesses Chizkiyohu opened, the rosh yeshiva HaRav Eliahu Mishkovsky zt"l asked him to serve as the first maggid shiur, saying that he was the best qualified to teach the students to learn with yashrus, and would acquaint them with a rav who is like a mal'ach. He served in that position for several years.
In 5730 (1970) he agreed to the request of HaRav Hillel Cagan zt"l, mashgiach of Grodno, to take the responsibilities of mashgiach in that yeshiva. For several years he gave shmuessen there.
In 5747 (1987) HaRav Yehuda Ades, rosh yeshivas Kol Yaakov in Bayit Vegan, asked him to give a weekly shmuess in his yeshiva. Since then he has made the weekly trip, developing a strong relationship with the talmidim of that yeshiva. In recent years he also have a shmuess in Mir Yeshiva on the same day.
In addition for many years he has said a weekly shmuess in the Keren Orah yeshiva in Carmiel.
At his own yeshiva in Rechasim, he had around ten weekly vaadim and sichos every week.
The levaya in the Beis Medrash of Yeshivas Knesses Chizkiyohu
Throughout his life it was evident that the Mashgiach was an Odom Sholeim, who was entirely dedicated to Kiddush Hashem in the world. He often used to quote the posuk, "What does Hashem your G-d ask of you? Just to fear Hashem your G-d and to go in His ways and to love Him and serve his with all your heart and all your soul."
He would always say that learning Torah be'iyun is the greatest pleasure for a person in this world and in the World to Come, and he used to say that they once told the Chazon Ish about a certain bochur who learned 18 hours a day.
The Chazon Ish responded, "Is it any wonder that there is a bochur who wants to live?"
He used to add in the name of the Chazon Ish that it is easier to learn 18 hours a day than 6 hours a day, because the Torah is such a source of simchah and pleasure that the more one learns, the more one wants to learn.
His davening was well-known and he used to say, "It is not a matter of chassidus. One has to know that tefillah is our pipeline to Him, yisborach, so that we will merit to receive from his full and open Hand what we want and need in our lives."
He said that the Chazon Ish was once asked what to do for a youth who suddenly lost his zest for davening, without any apparent reason for doing so. The Chazon Ish recommended that he should try learning for a few hours in solitude for that is something that raises the level of kedushoh very much, just like learning at night. He also recommended that he learn the works of acharonim that gladden the heart, and that he learn the works of those who fear G-d to arouse himself.
His published works are called by the serial name, Le'ovdecho Be'emes. He at first refused to use that name, but his talmidim insisted that it reflected what they felt upon hearing the shmuessen.
For some time he had been very weak. He was being treated in the hospital at Kiryat Sanz in Netanya, and the family said that the staff there worked very hard to give him the best of care. Nonetheless, on Wednesday afternoon 19 Teves, he returned his soul to its Maker, in the presence of his family and many talmidim.
The levaya left from the great Beis Medrash at Kiryat Sanz in Netanya where he spent his last weeks. The Admor was maspid, before the levaya left for Yerushalayim and the Kol Yaakov yeshiva in Bayit Vegan where he had taught for more than 30 years.
The first maspid was HaRav Shmuel Auerbach. He was followed by HaRav Yaakov Ades and HaRav Dovid Cohen. The last maspid in Yerushalayim was his son HaRav Mordechai.
After that the levaya went to the city of Rechasim, and the aron was brought into the beis medrash of Yeshivas Knesses Chizkiyohu. The paroches was removed from the Aron Hakodesh.
The first maspid there was HaRav Yehoshua Mann, the rosh yeshiva. He was followed by HaRav Boruch Mordechai Ezrachi, HaRav Boruch Dov Povarski and HaRav Dov Lando. Also being maspid were HaRav Moshe Jacobi, HaRav Ovadia Broide, HaRav Moshe Tan'ami, HaRav Yaakov Meir Zonnenfeld, his son-in-law HaRav Sholom Chaim Weiss, and his son HaRav Tzvi. He was buried in the local cemetery.
He is survived by two sons, four daughters and their husbands, as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren and thousands of talmidim who follow the path he laid out in his lifetime.