Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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26 Adar II 5765 - April 6, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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HaRav Pinchas Lieberman zt"l

By Betzalel Kahn

On the night following the last day of Purim Meshulash, the night of 16 Adar II, thousands of Jerusalem residents took part in the levaya for HaRav Pinchas Lieberman zt"l, the author of the Lev Tov translation of Chovos Halevovos and the peirush Tuv Yerushalayim on the Ramban on Chumash.

A descendent of the Chasam Sofer zechuso yogen oleinu, Pinchas Yehuda Lieberman was born in Pressburg on 22 Cheshvan 5690 (1929) to R' Tuvioh. In 5699 (1940) the family moved to Eretz Yisroel and a few years later young Pinchas Yehuda began studying under prominent Jerusalem rabbonim and zekeinim.

He had easy access to his uncle the Tchebiner Rov after he arrived in Eretz Yisroel, and was also close to the Daas Sofer of Pressburg and HaRav Y. T. Dushinsky. While studying at Yeshivas Chevron he maintained close ties with the rosh yeshiva HaRav Aharon Cohen, who spent hours learning with Pinchas Yehuda and instilling in him yiras Shomayim.

When he transferred to Yeshivas Mir he built relationships with the rosh yeshiva HaRav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel, as well as with HaRav M. A. Freund and the Minchas Yitzchok.

In 5712 (1952) he married the daughter of HaRav Avrohom Mordechai Yosefitz, one of the leading talmidim of the Shomrei Emunim, and continued his studies at Mir. His colleagues sitting on the benches of the beis medrash during this period recall his tremendous yegiyo and lamdonus. Not wanting to use the Torah as "a spade to dig," he worked a few hours in the afternoon to earn a living.

In 5728 (1968) he published Lev Tov, which made Chovos Halevovos accessible to many who found its archaic language difficult to understand. Even though it is formally a translation, in many places it is in effect a commentary. His conduct so closely adhered to the book he had labored on that HaRav Dovid Yungreis, the late ravad of the Eida Chareidis, once called him a "lebediger Chovos Halevovos." He was always very careful in doing cheshbon nefesh. His offspring found extremely detailed instructions in his will describing how to handle him after his histalkus.

A few years later he published Tuv Yerushalayim, an analysis of the Ramban's commentary on the Torah. This book, which also gained popularity, was the product of 25 years of labor. He sometimes spent whole days and nights on one segment of the Ramban, praying and weeping before Hashem as part of his efforts to achieve a profound understand of the Ramban's true intentions. After two-and-a-half decades of work he was so happy that he told his grandchildren: "Each of these five volumes is as dear to me as a son."

Recently he identified a need for mussar teachings taken from the Torah and organized a compilation according to parshas hashovua called Tuv Hapeninim.

The doors of his home were left open to all, and numerous bochurim regularly dined at his Shabbos table. He was known for his careful speech and humility and his sense of pain over the suffering of other Jews.

Recently he contracted a very serious illness, but despite his great suffering during his last Shabbos he changed none of his customs. After making Havdoloh at home on motzei Shabbos Purim he was rushed to the hospital and at 10:00 p.m. he returned his soul to his Maker.

During the levaya that set out from his home, his older brother HaRav Yosef Lieberman, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Shomrei Hachomos and rov of beis knesses Sadigora, parted from the deceased with a quote from Dovid Hamelech's eulogy for Yehonoson: "Tzar li olecho ochi Yehonoson, no'amto li me'od nifle'eiso ahavoscho li mei'ahavas noshim" (Shmuel II 1:26). "Undoubtedly he will be received by the great [talmidei chachomim in Otzar Haposkim], whose Torah teaching he engaged in, as well as his great rabbonim who cherished him so."

He was followed by HaRav Moshe Halberstam, a member of the Badatz Eida Chareidis in Jerusalem, who cited Chazal's remarks on the auspiciousness of dying in a state of happiness [since the niftar passed away on Purim], "meis mitoch sechok simon yofeh lo," and lamenting the great loss for the people of Jerusalem.

The deceased's son, HaRav Chaim, parted from his father in the name of the family, quoting the verse, "Noflo ateres rosheinu oy no lonu ki chotonu" (Eichoh 5:16), and mourning the loss of a father so devoted to educating his children in purity and sanctity and for the prayers he poured out for their sake. Another son, HaRav Moshe, also offered words of parting. Those walking behind the mittoh included the Admor of Rachmastrivka and the Admor of Dushinsky.

HaRav Pinchas Lieberman zt"l is survived by his wife; his sons HaRav Shimon a moreh tzedek, HaRav Chaim menahel ruchani of Yeshivas HaRemo, HaRav Moshe and HaRav Nachum, a ram at Yeshivas HaRemo; his sons-in- law HaRav Chaim Freund a ram at Yeshivas Beis Yosef Tzvi, and HaRav Mordechai Shapira; grandchildren and great- grandchildren all following in his path of Torah and yir'oh.


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