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6 Kislev 5766 - December 7, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Gateshead Hespedim for HaRav Chaim Kaufman at Shloshim

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

On the occasion of the Shloshim after the petiroh of HaRav Chaim Kaufman, rosh yeshiva in Gateshead Yeshiva Letze'irim and international speaker, the kehilloh arranged a large gathering in its large chasunah hall.

While the walls of this hall are used to hearing vibrant music, this time the atmosphere was quite different. Rarely if ever has the hall seen such a large crowd. The listeners covered the entire spectrum of the kehilloh and hundreds of bochurim from Gateshead's five yeshivos. In some way, the audience itself was a testimony to how the niftar had reached the heart and soul of all types and all ages.

His only son commenced the proceedings by saying over what amounted to his father's last public testament: the central points of his last shmuess on Leil Yom Kippur. He then said the Hadran for the Mishnayos which had been learned all over the world in memory of his father.

The first hesped was delivered by the Rosh Yeshiva, HaRav Avrohom Gurwitz. He dwelled on the deeper meaning of Chazal's comparison between the loss of a tzaddik and Churban Habayis.

The next maspid was the niftar's lifelong friend and chavrusa, HaRav Simchah Bamberger (formerly a maggid shiur and Rosh Hakollel). Reb Chaim exuded royalty, he declared. But this feeling of royalty, was grounded in the fact that first and foremost he was a king over himself. In all those years he could hardly recall a single occasion where Reb Chaim had become angry. His golden middos went hand-in-hand with his devotion to Torah.

The longest hesped was given by HaRav Shimon Hirschler of Pardes School in London. In a wide-ranging analysis of the niftar's achievements, he drew on many wellsprings of mussar and Chassidus. Nothing could shake Reb Chaim from learning. Even being told about the Twin Tower's collapse, which completely bewildered and confounded many a bochur, had no "newsworthiness" for him. The world, he said, will carry on without the Twin Towers. As if to demonstrate that the world cannot carry on without Brisi — the Torah Covenant — he quickly returned to his learning.

One of the niftar's first talmidim, HaRav Yaakov Yehuda Salomon, delivered a rousing tearful hesped. On behalf of the hundreds of talmidim, he expressed the responsibility they all have to carry on their avodas hakodesh. Only in this way will Reb Chaim on high, benefit from his investment into their aliyoh. This is their way of showing gratitude. Quoting his father, HaRav Matisyohu Salomon, a boyhood friend of the niftar, he stressed that Reb Chaim's public dissemination of Torah on five continents was preceded by many years of private aliyoh. The chitzoniyus was a product of deep pnimiyus.

In the middle of the hespedim, the lights in the large majestic hall went out due to an electric fault. The mournful audience was practically plunged into darkness. Nothing in this world is coincidence. It was symbolic: Gateshead has lost one of its greatest luminaries! A light which shone so brightly in the firmament of Torah disseminators has been extinguished. Talmidim on five continents have been plunged into darkness.


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