In a great and mournful shock for the entire Torah world, HaRav Avrohom Chaim Halevi Levine zt"l , a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of America and rosh yeshiva of Telz Chicago passed away suddenly at the age of 85.
For almost 60 years he was marbitz Torah at the yeshiva, and he produced thousands of talmidim.
HaRav Levine was born in the Lithuanian city of Vishki. His father, HaRav Eliezer, was a talmid of the Chofetz Chaim and served as rov and the head of the Vaad HaRabbonim of Detroit. He also learned in Kelm where he learned with HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein zt"l who was later his mechuton. HaRav Levine's mother was the daughter of HaRav Avrohom Rottenberg who was the rov of Vishki.
HaRav Levine thus grew up in a home with a deep Torah tradition, and he applied himself to learning Torah from a young age.
The family moved to America fairly soon after he was born, and when Avrohom was only 11 years old his father sent him off to learn in Telz Cleveland. He developed a warm relationship with the roshei yeshiva, HaRav Eliahu Meir Bloch and HaRav Chaim Mordechai Katz zt"l, and became a prize talmid in the 17 years that he spent learning there.
He married Esther Miriam, the daughter of HaRav Efraim Mordechai Ginsburg, who was the son-in-law of the Mashgiach, HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein. Celebrating their wedding was especially moving as it brought together two descendants of prominent Kelm talmidim. He used to go to Israel to spend Elul and the Yomim Noraim with his grandfather the Mashgiach. He once remarked that what he absorbed in Bnei Brak he passed on to his talmidim.
Soon after his wedding his mother was niftar, and the couple was called to Detroit. But not long after that his rebbeim from Telz in Cleveland asked him to help open a branch of the yeshiva in Chicago. He asked HaRav Chaim Schmeltzer zt"l to join him in the venture.
In 1960 the two went to Chicago, then the second largest Jewish community in America but, as was typical of those days, with a very minimal institutional Torah structure. In the almost sixty years since then, he built the yeshiva along with the general community, into a significant Torah location.
His day began at 4:30 am and he spent long hours, studying until late at night. He was a true product of the Telz tradition, and he passed on the deep approach of Telz to thousands of talmidim over the years.
He was very active in Agudath Israel and also served on the rabbinical committee of Torah Umesorah, the nationwide chinuch network of America. In his later years, after he underwent a serious heart operation, he insisted on continuing to participate in the meetings of the Moetzes Gedolei Yisroel even though he could no longer fly to be there.
When Maran HaRav Shteinman zt"l went to America on his great chizuk tour, HaRav Levine hosted HaRav Shteinman. It was said that after he left, HaRav Shteinman remarked, "Rebbi Avrohom Chaim is one of the most beautiful Yidden that I have found and seen in all of America."
About two weeks ago he had some shortness of breath and was hospitalized, but he was discharged and continued in the yeshiva. However suddenly on Wednesday 20 Kislev he returned his soul to Heaven.
He is survived by his wife and six sons in American and Israel, and one son-in-law, as well as numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren as well as thousands of talmidim all over the world.