On Sunday 1 Sivan and Monday 2 Sivan, thousands of mourners,
headed by gedolei haTorah, roshei yeshiva and masses
of students and members of the bnei Torah community,
accompanied HaRav Pesach Yitzchok Stein zt"l on his last
earthly journey. On Sunday, the levaya took place in
the United States and on Monday in Eretz Yisroel. HaRav
Stein, one of the roshei yeshiva of the Telz yeshiva of
Cleveland, was niftar on erev Shabbos kodesh
HaRav Pesach Stein the son of Rav Aaron Shmuel Hy"d,
was born in Breinesk in 5678 (1918). His father, who was an
av beis din and rosh yeshiva in Breinesk, was a
student of HaRav Shimon Shkop. His mother, Rebbetzin Pessel
(nee Semiatitsky), who was the cousin of Rav Zaidel
Semiatitsky, ran a store in order to enable her husband to
devote himself to Torah study undisturbed. HaRav Shimon Shkop
was the sandak at Pesach Yitzchok's bris.
HaRav Pesach Yitzchok Stein studied in the yeshiva ketana
of Breinesk, and then in the Slonim yeshiva under HaRav
Shabsai Yogel. HaRav Yogel was very fond of him, and
predicted that he would be a godol beTorah.
In 5696 (1936), he began to study in the Mir in Poland. Even
though he was still young, he integrated with the yeshiva's
most prominent students, and became very close to HaRav Yonah
Minsker, Hy"d, with whom he often spoke in learning.
He studied bechavrusa with HaRav Shmuel Charkover, one
of the greatest talmidei chachomim of the yeshiva who,
though much older than HaRav Pesach, would attend all of his
chaburos. Years later, HaRav Charkover became one of
the roshei yeshiva of the Beis HaTalmud yeshiva in the United
States. Whenever he encountered students of the Telz yeshiva
would ask them to relate divrei Torah from HaRav
The Mir's rosh yeshiva, HaRav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel, drew him
close and was very fond of him, predicting that HaRav Pesach
would eventually become a godol beTorah. HaRav
Finkel's high regard for HaRav Pesach is evident from the
fact that at the beginning of the war, when only ten of the
yeshiva's students could be saved, he selected HaRav Pesach
as one of that group
At the outbreak of the war, HaRav Pesach was in his parents
home in Breinesk. At that time, HaRav Eliyahu Chazan, who
lived in Breinesk, pleaded with him to return to the Mir.
HaRav Chazan was one of the great talmidei chachomim
of the Mirrer yeshiva, and later on the rosh yeshiva of
Torah Vodaas. HaRav Pesach joined the yeshiva in its flight
from Mir to Vilna, and afterward on its trek to Shanghai,
where he spent the war years.
Years later, when HaRav Pesach's students asked him to tell
them about life in Shanghai, he said: "All that we did was
learn, learn and learn." The greatest shakdonim of the
Mirrer yeshiva during that period praised HaRav Pesach's
diligence and deep immersion in his studies while in
He was very close with the Mashgiach, HaRav Yechezkel
Levenstein, who guided him in yiras Hashem and
emunah. Years later, they even became mechutonim,
when HaRav Levenstein's grandson became HaRav Pesach's
HaRav Pesach Stein was the only member of his family who
survived the Holocaust. His parents and three brothers
Hy"d were killed by the Germans yimach shemom.
After the war, he joined the remainder of the bnei yeshiva
in New York where he continued to study in the Mir. For a
certain period, he joined a group of bnei yeshiva who
went to Cincinnati, where Rav Eliezer Silver had founded a
yeshiva. In Cincinnati, HaRav Stein delivered a shiur.
Rav Silver marveled at this shiur, and for many years
would praise it to those close to him. After a while, HaRav
Pesach returned to New York.
In 5708, HaRav Gifter visited HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein in
New York. The purpose of HaRav Gifter's visit was to find a
shidduch for his wife's sister, a Holocaust survivor
and the daughter of HaRav Zalman Bloch, who had been the
menahel ruchani of Telz of Lithuania.
The Mashgiach suggested HaRav Pesach, and the future
kallah's uncle, her father's brother, HaRav Eliyahu
Meir Bloch, founder of the Telz yeshiva in the United States
after the war, met with Rav Pesach. After a lengthy
discussion with HaRav Pesach, he blessed the shidduch.
At the wedding, HaRav Pesach delivered a lengthy
drosho on Kodshim which amazed his listeners.
The eminent talmidei chachomim present at the wedding
noted his greatness in Torah.
After the wedding, the couple remained in Cleveland, near the
yeshiva, and Rav Pesach began to deliver chaburos
there. Shortly afterward, the roshei yeshiva asked him to
deliver steady shiurim, at which point he joined the
yeshiva's hanhogo ruchanis. His shiur rapidly
became the yeshiva's basic iyun shiur to which many
were attracted due to its clarity, logic and outstanding
rhetoric and delivery. Quite soon, he gained acclaim
throughout the entire yeshiva world.
HaRav Pesach regarded the transmission of the Torah of the
previous generation to current and future ones as his mission
in life, and felt that bequeathing American yeshiva students
the Torah of the pre-Holocaust yeshiva world was his goal. He
prepared for his shiurim extensively, presenting them
in a manner which caused his students to feel Torah's
sweetness, and influenced them to increase their yiras
Shomayim and understanding of the Torah. His efforts and
exertion bore fruit, and his shiurim had a profound
impact on his students, inspiring them to immerse themselves
to Torah with added fervor.
Spurred by these shiurim, many of his students decided
to remain in Torah, eventually becoming marbitzei
Torah in the United States and Eretz Yisroel.
During his tenure as rosh yeshiva, his students published his
shiurim in pamphlets and other forms, among them a
stenciled three-volume edition of Shiurei HaRav Pesach
Stein. His students' purpose was to enable themselves to
continue pursing his teachings and to provide others with the
means of enjoying his writings. In time, when the amount of
shiurim expanded, HaRav Pesach responded to his
students' request and edited the pamphlets, reprinting them
as seforim called Likutei Shiurim. This work includes
five volumes which encompass all of the yeshivishe
masechtos. It also includes 28 shiurim on
Chulin and items on issues pertaining to
kodshim in Pesochim.
His dedication to his students was unique. He would draw them
closer in a warm and amiable manner, regarding their worries
and concerns as his personal issues, and helping them in
every manner possible. He shared their simchas and
commiserated with their sorrows. His capacity for encouraging
and strengthening bochurim was unique. As a result,
HaRav Shmuel Yaakov Bornstein, one of the roshei yeshiva of
the Chevron Geula yeshiva said: "HaRav Pesach may be compared
to Kalba Savua. All of the hungry who visited Kalba Savua
emerged sated. All those who were starved for encouragement
emerged in happy and hopeful frames of minds after speaking
with HaRav Pesach."
He was humble and unassuming in all his ways, and fled honor
and public positions, personifying the verse: "With the
humble there is wisdom." Hundreds and thousands of his
students remained attached to him for scores of years, and
consulted him on every matter. He was very respectful towards
others, and never offended anyone. He toiled in mussar
and yirah, and when he wanted to urge others to
correct certain points, would say: "A baal mussar
doesn't behave that way."
He was exceptionally orderly, and every one of his belongings
had its place, every deed its special time for performance.
He also possessed the trait of malchus, especially in
respect to his self-restraint and his mastery over both his
spiritual and physical faculties. He truly personified the
chossid described by the Kuzari and directed
all of his energies to avodas haBorei.
In 5748 (1988), he suffered a blow with the petirah of
his oldest son, HaRav Shmuel Zalman, to whom he was deeply
attached. HaRav Shmuel Zalman, who was niftar at the age of
38 after a difficult illness, was one of Rav Pesach's finest
students. He was the author of Pri Shmuel, and a
ram in Heichal HaTorah in Yerushalayim. Despite his
pain, Rav Pesach accepted his suffering with love, and never
complained about the misfortune.
During this past winter zman, he delivered his regular
shiurim even though his heart was weak. Last month,
his condition deteriorated and he had to be hospitalized.
While in the hospital, he engaged in Torah study with his son
and sons-in-law, who would recite their shiurim to
him, while he commented, asked questions and offered
Erev Shabbos Bamidbar, after chatzos, he awoke and
asked for a drink of water. He made a she'hakol with
kavonoh and, a short while afterward, returned his
pure soul to its Maker, while surrounded by his family.
His levaya left the Telz yeshiva in Cleveland on
Sunday morning. He was accompanied by a massive throng of
gedolei haTorah and talmidim. Hespedim were
delivered by: HaRav Chaim Stein, the rosh yeshiva of Telz;
HaRav Chaim Dov Keller, the rosh yeshiva of the Chicago
branch of Telz; HaRav Dovid Berkin, one of the roshei yeshiva
of Telz; the niftar's son, HaRav Aaron Stein, and the
niftar's son-in-law, HaRav Avrohom Doveck.
Afterward the levaya left for New York, where
hespedim were delivered by HaRav Dovid Helberg, one of
the rabbonim of the city; HaRav Eliyahu Svei, the rosh
yeshiva of the Philadelphia yeshiva; HaRav Yosef Savitsky,
the rosh yeshiva of Torah Vodaas; the niftar's son-in-
law, HaRav Yisroel Ginzburg, HaRav Shmuel Birnbaum, the rosh
yeshiva of the Mir of New York; the niftar's mechuton,
HaRav Yaakov Pollack, rav of the Shomrei Emunah kehilla
of Boro Park; HaRav Yaakov Horowitz, rav of Kehal Yotzei
Yeshivas Telz in New York and rosh yeshiva of Beis Meir.
Afterward, his aron was flown to Eretz Yisroel. At the
airport, a hesped was delivered by his grandson, HaRav Moshe
Yosef Stein, son the niftar's son, HaRav Zalman Shmuel
zt"l. From there the levaya left for the Mirrer
yeshiva in Yerushalayim, where hespedim were delivered
by: HaRav Arye Finkel, one of the roshei yeshiva of the Mir;
the niftar's brother-in-law, HaRav Akiva Hacarmi, a
rav in Kiryat Shmuel; HaRav Shmuel Yaakov Bornstein, one of
the roshei yeshiva of Chevron Geula; the niftar's son-
in- law, HaRav Avrohom Doveck; the niftar's student,
HaRav Shmuel Yehuda Baron, a ram in Or Shmuel;, and
the niftar's grandson, HaRav Yaakov Chaim Stein. At
the end of the hespedim, the great gaon Rav Pesach
Stein was laid to rest in Har Hazeisim, beside his beloved
son, HaRav Shmuel Zalman.
He is survived by children and grandchildren who are engaged
in Torah study lishmoh, and are following in his
footsteps, as well as by his wife, who helped him his entire
life in his harbotzas Torah and in his dedication to
his students. His surviving son is HaRav Aaron Stein, one of
the roshei yeshiva of Or Hameir in Peekskill. His daughters
are married, respectively, to HaRav Yisroel Ginzburg, one of
the roshei yeshiva of Tifferes Yerushalayim in Staten Island,
and to HaRav Yonoson Avraham Doveck a ram in the Telz yeshiva