Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

10 Ellul 5761 - August 29, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Rav Binyomin Ehrentreu zt"l
by Betzalel Kahn

On 1 Elul, a large throng accompanied R' Binyomin Ehrentreu, zt"l, on his last earthly journey. He was the founder and gabbaiof the Gra synagogue in the Bayit Vegan neighborhood in Jerusalem, and one of the neighborhood's prominent residents and askonim. He was niftar at the age of 71, after having suffered a brief illness.

R' Binyomin Ehrentreu, who always referred to himself as a simple baal habayis, was the son of HaRav Elchonon and the grandson of HaRav Chanoch Ehrentreu, author of Kometz Hamincha. He managed to survive the horrors of the Holocaust, celebrating his bar mitzvah alone in a detention camp in Belgium.

Immediately after the Holocaust he came to Eretz Yisroel and entered the Kol Torah yeshiva in Jerusalem, where he became very close with its rosh yeshiva, HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, ztvk"l. Though he only managed to spend a year and a half in yeshiva, the experience stamped him for a lifetime. In time, he married Moras Esther of the Gans family and together they built an outstanding Torah home. Throughout the more than fifty years of their marriage she served him with dedication.

He was one of the founders of the Netiva settlement, where Yad Binyomin is currently situated. From there the family moved to Bayit Vegan, where he became very close with HaRav Yechezkel Abramsky and was his right-hand man in all that pertained to neighborhood issues. At HaRav Abramsky's encouragement, R' Binyomin founded the Gra shul, involving himself in all aspects of its building. Until his final day, he served as gabbai of this shul, where hundreds daven and study.

He was modest and unassuming, never thinking of himself. He attended to the needs of all who turned to him, and welcomed lonely people and baalei teshuva into his home.

During one of Israel's wars, he heard that the young son of a neighbor who had been killed in battle was too shy to recite Kaddish in shul. Even though the youngster wasn't a relative, Rav Binyomin accompanied him to shul three times a day, to help him to recite Kaddish.

Once HaRav Abramsky told him that the municipal eruv in Bayit Vegan was inadequate. A few days later, Rav Binyomin began to make arrangements for an eruv that surrounded the entire neighborhood and met all of the stringent demands of halocho. Until his final day, he made certain that the eruv was intact, checking it each erev Shabbos, in the hot summer and in the rainy winters and in between.

In his many activities on behalf of the neighborhood, he maintained constant contact with the poskim of our time. Thirty years ago he founded the daily shiur given by HaRav Ezriel Auerbach in the Gra shul, as well as many other daily and Shabbos shiurim for avreichim and baalei battim.

His lifestyle was one of pashtus. Although he worked for a living, he delivered a shiur for baalei battim every morning at 5 a.m. in the Sochotchov shul in Bayit Vegan. This shiur was maintained for forty years.

When he retired from his first job, he began to work as an administrator for Yeshivas Ohr Somayach. There too, he granted help and support to all in need, and hosted yeshiva students in his home on Shabbosim, encouraging them in every aspect of their return to Yiddishkeit. One of the maspidim after the shiva said that one of the yeshiva's suppliers cried when he heard that R' Binyomin had passed away. Though he considered himself a chiloni to this day, he said that because he was so impressed with R' Binyomin he puts on tefillin every day!

Concern for the spiritual needs of the residents of Bayit Vegan was his primary endeavor. When the Shalom Hotel was built in Bayit Vegan, he insisted that its entrance be situated outside the neighborhood and spent much time in quiet negotiations with the developers to ensure this. When the Chen Hotel opened, he made a concerted effort to prevent it from building a swimming pool and hall, so that the Jewish character of the neighborhood would not be compromised.

Last week at a family simcha, he suffered a stroke and was hospitalized. While in hospital, despite his condition, he was kept abreast of developments at Ohr Somayach as well as the eruv and his many other important projects.

Monday morning, after putting on tefillin and davening, he suffered another stroke and was niftar. His levaya, which set out from the Gra shul, was attended by a massive throng. Since it was rosh chodesh, divrei his'orerus were delivered by HaRav Leib Heiman, rav of the Gra shul; HaRav Ezriel Auerbach, rav of the Kehilas Chanichei Hayeshivos; HaRav Yisroel Gans, the niftar's brother-in-law and one of the roshei yeshiva of Kol Torah; and by HaRav Mendel Weinbach, the rosh yeshiva of Or Somayach. He was buried on Har Hazeisim.

He is survived by his wife, Moras Esther, and by his outstanding sons: HaRav Elchonon, a rosh yeshiva in a yeshiva ketana in Ramat Shlomo and Rav Yechiel, a prominent avreich in Modi'in Illit. His daughters are, respectively, married to the following prominent avreichim: Rav Yerachmiel Dobrovitcher, Rav Nochum Tauber, Rav Yaakov Zril, Rav Micha Rothschild, Rav Aharon Haber, Rav Simcha Deutsch, Rav Shlomo Havlin, and Rav Menachem Freundlich. His many grandchildren and great-grandchildren are all firmly planted in Beis Hashem.


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