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6 Marcheshvan 5772 - November 3, 2011 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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The Tchebiner Rov HaGaon R' Dov Berisch Weidenfeld, ztvk'l"l

In honor of his yahrtzeit 10 Cheshvan

On 5 Shevat 5641, the third son of Rabbi Yankele of Herimlov, author of Kochav MiYaakov, was born.

At first R' Dov Berisch learned with his father and, although the latter was niftar when his son was bar mitzvah, he brings many chiddushim in the name of his father in his sefer Dovev Meishorim.

His name and fame spread even as a young boy. From the age of seven he would publicly teach every week what he had learned from his father. In his sefer, Reb Dov Berisch brings a chiddush, explaining a difficult point in Rambam that he had learned from his father when he was nine years old.

After his father, the Kochav MiYaakov, passed away, Reb Dov Berisch learnt with his elder brothers, Reb Yitzchok and Reb Nochum, zt"l.

In 5660 (1900), he married the Rebbetzin Yachet, a"h, daughter of Reb Yisroel Yosef Kluger, zt"l, a grandchild of Reb Chaim, rov in Tchebin.

Reb Dov Berisch did not wish to support himself through his Torah and received as his dowry a coal business.

It is told that after the war when the Maharitz Dushinsky met Reb Dov Berisch in Yerushalayim, they were discussing the latter's great brothers who perished in the Holocaust. "Didn't you have another brother?" questioned Rav Dushinsky, "one who ran a business, yet was reputed to have been even greater than his brothers? Who is this brother?"

Reb Dov Berisch began stammering, not having an answer, until from his coughing and stuttering Rav Dushinsky understood that he was indeed this third brother, who later became rov of Tchebin.

The reason why he was forced to accept rabbonus was the loss of his business in an amazing way. Once, at a time when Reb Dov Berisch knew that the price of coal was soon to drop dramatically, he received a large order from a prominent dealer. R' Dov Berisch waited until the value fell and only then sold the coal to his client. Thus he lost all his money and, with no choice, he accepted the rabbinate in Tchebin, a town close to Cracow.

The Tchebiner Rov hid his greatness both in Torah and in middos. His son-in-law Reb Boruch Shimon Schneerson, the rosh yeshiva of Tchebin, aptly said, "He managed to conceal everything, apart from his shining, noble countenance, which revealed just a fraction of what lay beyond."

During World War II, the Tchebiner Rov was exiled to Siberia and from there to Bucharest, all the while continuing to teach Torah despite the conditions. For a period of time he had no seforim at all, yet he wrote wonderful chiddushim that were later printed in his sefer, Zecher Shlomo, works that amaze those who see them, written with sharpness and erudition without seforim.

After the Holocaust, the Tchebiner Rov came to Eretz Yisroel, where he was immediately accepted as one of the gedolei hador. He reestablished his yeshiva, Kochav MiYaakov which continues teaching talmidim to this day, in Yerushalayim.

Of his great works, three volumes of Sheilos Uteshuvos Dovev Meishorim have been published. Many more were lost in the war.

On Friday, 10 Marcheshvon, 5726 (1966), the Tchebiner Rov passed away and on motzei Shabbos, the huge levaya made its way to Har Hamenuchos.


As soon as World War II broke out, a decree of expulsion to Siberia came from the Lemberg government to the Tchebiner Rov. Word of this spread and the roshei hakehilloh tried their utmost to have the decree revoked, but in vain. Rabbenu left for golus Siberia. He later said, "Who knows what my lot would have been had all their efforts been successful. I would have stayed in Lemberg with all of them and choliloh have shared their bitter fate."

Arriving in Siberia, Reb Dov Berisch suffered spiritually and physically. In addition to all the prevalent hardships, the Tchebiner Rov was extremely clean and finicky. His daughters would, with mesirus nefesh, wash his shirt every day in the river so that he would have a clean shirt to wear.

When his family tried to earn money on the black market against the law, the Rov refused to allow them to do so. However when it came to spreading Torah, it was a different matter altogether. Despite the strict law of the Communist regime, Reb Dov Berisch did not hesitate or fear to teach Torah in his home. Spies were sent to his home and when it was confirmed that the Tchebiner Rov was teaching young boys, the Communists threatened him with imprisonment if he dare to not obey them and stop his Torah shiurim.

The Tchebiner Rov was generally a soft-spoken, gentle person, but here, where Torah was at stake, a new demeanor and personality manifested itself. Without consideration or fear of punishment, he forcefully continued teaching Torah and even sent teshuvos to those who somehow managed to send him sheilos.

Tenaciously, he held onto, and taught words of Torah in times of peril, knowing "that they are our life."

Once he saw a group of bochurim gathering in the courtyard of Reb Aaron of Belz, zt"l. The Tchebiner Rov told them the following story:

The Divrei Chaim of Zanz once sent a difficult shailoh to those chassidim gathered in his beis medrash, among them was a young boy, Reb Shmuel Engel, who later became a great talmid chochom. The Divrei Chaim received one wonderful teshuvoh and upon asking whose it was, he was told the young Reb Shmuel Engel. "If so," said the holy Zanzer, "tell him he should go home and learn!"

With this story, the Tchebiner Rov gently hinted to the boys not to waste their time gathering together, but to be osek beTorah.

When the first decrees against shechitoh came into effect, heralding the war, there were restrictions and shortages in the supply of meat in Tchebin.

The Jewish community managed to work out a system whereby the front parts of the animal were kept for the Yidden and the hind parts, which are more problematic halachically, went to the non- Jewish butchers of the area.

Seeing the shortage this was causing, the Tchebiner Rov and heads of the community tried many ways to have the decrees annulled, but they were unsuccessful.

Before Pesach, the Rov and Reb Abba Mandelboim were summoned to the local mayor. The latter informed them that since he knew that for Pesach the Jews would need a lot of meat, he was prepared to allow them to slaughter as they wished and use the whole animal, on one condition, that after Pesach the Rov should allow the use of the hind meat for the Yidden as they had been meikil in many other towns.

Reb Abba Mandelboim began asking questions, trying to negotiate with the Mayor so that at least for yom tov they would have meat as they needed.

When the Tchebiner Rov realized that he was beginning to negotiate, he loudly declared: "His honor might as well know now, that I refuse to be matir and step down in this case. This is not a subject for negotiation or discussion — make no mistake about it."

The mayor was moved to hear the staunch reply of the Rov and respectfully answered, "I lower my head before you, man of truth." He then lifted the ban of shechita without any accompanying restrictions.


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