Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

22 Adar II 5760 - March 29, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Harav Zev (Wolf) Rosengarten zt"l

A massive throng, headed by maronan verabonan, the gedolei haTorah, and led by Maran Hagaon HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv, Harav Aharon Leib Steinman, as well as by the members of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, roshei yeshiva, roshei kollel, ramim, dayanim and thousands of bnei Torah participated in the levayo of Harav Zev (Wolf) Rosengarten zt"l, the president of Lucerne yeshiva and the Toras Chaim yeshiva of Moscow.

At the levaya, which left the funeral home of Zurich established by his donation, he was accompanied by thousands of people from all over Switzerland and Europe. Due to his request that he not be eulogized, only brief words of parting were delivered.

Harav Shaul Breish, the rav of the Kehilas Agudas Achim in Zurich, described the great loss to the community in particular and to the city in general, saying that it is very difficult to find a Jew like Reb Zev today.

The Rosh Yeshiva of Lucerne, HaRav Y.D. Koppelman, cited the outstanding merits of the niftar who founded the yeshiva which illuminates the entire Torah world of Europe. He also noted his great yiras Shomayim.

His son, Rav Chaim Yitzchok Ozer described him as one who fulfilled the command, es haElokim yirei v'ess mitzvosav shemor.

He said that during recent months his primary concern was the continuation of the yeshiva in Moscow, which had also concerned HaRav Moshe Soloveichik zt"l.

He noted the obligation of the community to continue the endeavor to which they devoted so much of their energies, the Toras Chaim yeshiva in Moscow.

Afterward, the levaya proceeded to Zurich airport, from where the aron was flown to Ben Gurion airport, where hundreds, headed by gedolei haTorah and roshei yeshiva waited.

Among those who had come especially to the airport were: HaRav Aharon Leib Steinman, HaRav Amram Zachs, rosh yeshiva of Slobodka; HaRav Chaim Sarna, rosh yeshiva of Chevron Geula; Harav Chaim Shaul Karelitz, the gaavad of Shearis Yisroel and HaRav Yitzchok Zilberstein, the rav of Ramat Elchonon.

In brief words of parting, Harav Aharon Leib Steinman noted that the niftar asked not to be eulogized. Calling the niftar a talmid chochom and a baal chessed, he said that the great zechus of saving bnei Torah during the Holocaust and consequently the zechus of the revival of Torah are credited to him, and that this, along with his other merits, would protect him from the difficult judgments, and would protect his family and offspring.

From there, the aron was brought to the Chevron Geula yeshiva.

Words of parting were delivered by his two sons-in- law, Harav Nosson Lessinger the rosh yeshiva of Maayan HaTalmud and his son-in-law, Harav Yitzchok Meir Yaavetz, one of the prominent members of Kollel Ponovezh.

After his burial, his nephew Harav Shmuel Rosengarten the rosh yeshiva of the Belzer yeshiva parted from him with stirring words, as did HaRav Chaim Sarna, the rosh yeshiva of Chevron Geula.

HaRav Zev, the loyal confidante of the gedolei Yisroel of our times, was of the greatest Torah trustees of our generation, and the president of the Lucerne yeshiva and the Toras Chaim yeshiva of Moscow.

He was buried in the Har Tamir cemetery in Jerusalem, near his close friend, HaRav Moshe Soloveichik his biography.

HaRav Zev was born in 5674 (1914) in Zurich. His father, Reb Chaim Yitzchok Ozer, one of the founders of the Agudas Achim community in that city, raised him with great dedication on the banks of Torah and yiras Shomayim. As a young man, Reb Zev studied in the Montreux yeshiva in Switzerland, where he became acquainted with the Achiezer, who upon his return from the Kneissia Hagedola in Vienna stopped off in Montreux. When Harav Chaim Ozer was in Lucerne during the Yomim Noraim, Reb Zev, who accompanied him on walks, merited to hear HaRav Chaim Ozer's accounts about gedolei Yisroel and their fear of Yom Hadin. HaRav Chaim Ozer gave him a copy of the Achiezer, after Reb Zev was tested on the entire Bava Basra and even wrote a personal dedication in the sefer.

In 5690 (1930), HaRav Zev went to Lithuania's yeshivos kedoshos in order to study under the great roshei yeshiva there, and to grow in Torah and yirah. At first he studied in Ponovezh, under HaRav Osher Kalman Baron, hy"d and the gaavad, HaRav Kahaneman. Afterward, he went to the Telz yeshiva, where he became very close to his rav muvhak, HaRav E. Y. Bloch, the gaavad and rosh mesivta of Telz, who was very fond of him. In Telz, Harav Zev was considered one of the yeshiva's most outstanding students, and while there formed a close bond with Harav Mordechai Pogromanski. Many years later, he merited to take care of HaRav Pogromanski while the latter was in Switzerland due to his illness.

In Elul 5695 he went to Mir for a brief period, where he became very close with the mashgiach, Reb Yerucham, who honored him with an aliya to the Torah on Yom Kippur, an honor given mainly to a few outstanding, veteran students of the yeshiva. From Mir he went to Kaminetz, in order to study under HaRav Boruch Dov. While there he studied with HaRav Reuven Grozovksi, the son-in-law of Rav Boruch Dov. During that period he also studied Shulchan Oruch, Yoreh Deah with HaRav Shlomo Chumskar hy"d one of the most outstanding students of the Mirrer yeshiva with remarkable hasmodo. Later on, he received semicha from the dayan of Brisk, HaRav Simcha Zelig Reiger, who described him with superlative terms. When in Brisk, he was also close with the Griz.

In 5698, he returned to Switzerland where he married. His wife, from the Erlanger family, assisted him with unusual dedication, enabling him to pursue his Torah studies without any disturbances.

At the outbreak of the world war, Reb Zev was very involved in rescue activities, and made many efforts to obtain passports for bnei Torah, primarily for hundreds of students from the Mirrer yeshiva. Together with his brother-in-law, yibodel lechayim arukim, he went from place to place doing all he could to financially and physically save as many bnei Torah from Vilna as possible. He also took in many Jewish refugees who had fled to Switzerland, and quite often, the members of his household would sleep on the floor, giving their own beds to the refugees.

During that period, he formed a strong bond of friendship with HaRav Moshe Halevi Soloveichik, zt"l , assisting him in all of his monumental efforts on behalf of klal Yisroel. He also became very close with HaRav Aharon Leib Steinman, who was in Switzerland at that time.

After the war, the Admor of Satmar who was saved from the Inferno, arrived in Switzerland, and urged Reb Zev to open a yeshiva there, as did Harav Yechezkel Sarna. HaRav Zev, in his fervor, devoted himself to that effort, and along with HaRav Moshe Soloveichik founded the yeshiva in Lucerne. During its early years, Reb Zev was its rosh yeshiva. Later on, he transferred that position to Harav Y. Koppleman yibodel lechayim tovim v'arukim. As head of the yeshiva's hanholo, Rav Zev continued to shoulder its burden.

After the fall of the Iron Curtain, Harav Moshe Soloveichik founded the Toras Chaim yeshiva in Moscow, while Reb Zev vigorously assumed the responsibility of administering it. On his visits to the yeshiva, Reb Zev would be moved to tears upon seeing the vision of HaRav Moshe Soloveichik materializing, and the legions of students who pored over their Torah vavoda.

HaRav Zev served as one of the main leaders of the Jewish community of Zurich, and as its rosh hakahal, and made extensive efforts to increase its kedusha, founding a talmud Torah, a Beis Yaakov and other Torah and chessed institutions in the city, and was the life force behind all of the Torah institutions in Switzerland.

His home in Zurich was a beacon, and all of the needy and unfortunate found there succor, and approached him for advice and assistance. First and foremost for every dovar shebekedusha in Switzerland, he would make special efforts to revive the spirits of the depressed. He was especially known in the Torah world for his tzedoko, and for the generous support he gave to Torah institutions and Torah learners.

His home was a veritable beis vaad lechachomim, and whenever gedolei haTorah came to Switzerland, he hosted them. Among his illustrious guests were Harav Yechezkel Sarna and the Admor R' Itzikel of Pashvarask. He would often mention how privileged he had been to host the Griz of Brisk three times, when the Griz was in Switzerland for health reasons. Reb Zev made his home available to the Griz, and sent his own children to stay with a neighbor. While the Griz was in his home, Reb Zev attended to him as a servant attends to his master. As a result, the Griz drew him closer and told him many stories about the practices of his father's home, accounts not many merited to hear. Maran the Griz also spoke with him in learning, and would tell his close confidants how amazed he was about Reb Zev's greatness in Torah, saying: In Switzerland I met a Jew who is called a baal habayis, but many of our bnei Torah would do well to learn the meaning of the concept hasmodo from him.

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