Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

3 Shevat 5768 - January 10, 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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HaRav Shmuel Berenbaum zt"l

By S. Bruchi and Yechiel Sever

Thousands were on hand for the levaya in Flatbush and Jerusalem of HaRav Shmuel Berenbaum zt"l, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Mir in the US and one of the great marbitzei Torah of the generation. Among the few remaining survivors of the pre-War generation of Lithuanian Torah gedolim and a foundation stone of today's Torah world in the US, HaRav Berenbaum taught thousands of students over the course of 50 years.

Shmuel Berenbaum was born in 5681 (1921) in the city of Kinishin near Bialystok, now a part of Poland, to HaRav Aryeh Leib. At the age of ten he began studying at Yeshivas Novardok, where he remained until his bar mitzvah. He then transferred to Yeshivas Baranovitch, where he developed a close bond with the rosh yeshiva, HaRav Elchonon Wassermann Hy"d. At the age of 15 went to Yeshivas Mir, learning bechavrusa with HaRav Nachum Partzovitz. He shared a bedroom with some of Mir's leading talmidim, such as HaRav Leib Mallin, HaRav Chaim Visoker and HaRav Binyomin Tzeilberger.

During the war, when the yeshiva was transferred to Kobe, Japan and later to Shanghai, he continued studying with tremendous hasmodoh, learning from the beginning of the second seder until 3:00 am, with just a short break in the evening.

After the war he joined other yeshiva members who sailed to the US, where he married the daughter of HaRav Avrohom Kalmanovitz, founder and rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Mir in the US. His father-in-law called HaRav Berenbaum "the greatest masmid in the United States." He began teaching at the yeshiva, and when his father-in-law passed away, HaRav Berenbaum was made one of the roshei yeshiva, a post he held for the next 50 years.

He eventually headed an entire community consisting of a cheder, yeshiva ketanoh, yeshiva gedoloh, kollel avreichim and a kehilloh of yirei Hashem.

For decades he was an active member of the board of US roshei yeshivos working to promote Chinuch Atzmai in Eretz Yisroel, and after harsh decrees were imposed on the Torah world in Eretz Yisroel a few years ago he launched prodigious efforts to raise funds in the US. He had a pacemaker implanted 30 years ago, but was able to continue his many efforts for the sake of Klal Yisroel until he was struck with another dreaded disease about a year ago. Until he became completely incapacitated a few weeks ago, he would spend most of the day bound to his sickbed, but when the time came to give his shiur, he would revive himself to deliver the shiur with mesirus nefesh. Afterwards he would often say he felt no pain or discomfort during the shiur.

On Sunday evening 29 Shvat he returned his soul to his Maker.

The streets adjacent to Yeshivas Mir in Flatbush turned black as thousands arrived on chartered buses from various parts of the US Sunday night. The levaya began at 9:00 am with a hesped by the deceased's son-in-law, HaRav Reuven Shepansky. He was followed by HaRav Berenbaum's brother-in- law, HaRav Yaakov Nelkenbaum, also a rosh yeshiva at Yeshivas Mir; his son-in-law, HaRav Hershel Kaminesky, a ram at Yeshivas Mir of the US; his son-in-law, HaRav Eliyohu Meir Sorotzkin, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Springfield; HaRav Chaim Epstein; HaRav Dovid Shustal, one of the roshei yeshiva of Yeshivas Lakewood; HaRav Yosef Raful, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Ateres Torah; his talmid, HaRav Yisroel Ganenberg; HaRav Simcha Shustal, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Stamford; and his sons, HaRav Osher, HaRav Yisroel, HaRav Avrohom, HaRav Elchonon and HaRav Meir.

The funeral procession went down the main streets of Flatbush before the aron was flown to Eretz Yisroel, where HaRav Aharon Leib Shteinman ylct"a was on hand to accompany the deceased.

The levaya resumed at Yeshivas Mir in Jerusalem's Beit Yisrael neighborhood on Monday morning, where eulogies were delivery by HaRav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Mir; HaRav Shmuel Auerbach; HaRav Aryeh Finkel, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Mir-Brachfeld; HaRav Boruch Dov Povarsky, one of the roshei yeshiva of Yeshivas Ponovezh; HaRav Boruch Shimon Salomon, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Nachalas Dovid; HaRav Yitzchok Sheiner, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Kamenitz; HaMashgiach HaRav Don Segal; HaRav Shmuel Yaakov Bournstein, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Kiryas Melech; HaRav Dovid Yitzchok Shapira, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Be'er Yaakov; the deceased's grandson, HaRav Eliyohu Nesanel Salomon; his brother-in-law, HaRav Yisroel Yitzchok Kalmanovitz; and his son, HaRav Osher Dov.

The funeral procession went on foot to the Sanhedria Cemetery, where two of HaRav Berenbaum's sons, HaRav Aryeh Leib, and HaBochur R' Chaim Shlomoh, lay buried.


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