The Torah world was shrouded in
mourning Monday night upon hearing of the histalkus of HaRav
Aryeh Leib Baron (Baranowitz) zt"l, a vestige of the pre-War
Torah world in Lithuania, the rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Merkaz HaTorah
in Montreal and the author of a number of important books covering
various areas of Torah study.
Aryeh Leib Baron was born on Taanis Esther 5672 (1912) in the town of
Horodok, which is located a short distance from Volozhin in Belarus.
As a boy he studied at the local cheder. During this period the
rov of the town, HaRav Eliyohu Ben Tzion Garber, gathered
together a core of local boys chosen to go to the nearby town of
Rakov, where they would study at the yeshiva ketanoh started by
the rov there, HaRav Avrohom Kalmanovitz.
The Mirrer Yeshiva remained in Kobe, Japan for six months, moving to
Shanghai for the next five years a short time before the Yomim Noraim
of 5702 (1941). HaRav Baron remained with the yeshiva during these
years, engaging largely in chessed work, for both individuals
and the kehilloh. According to a letter of recommendation
written by HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein zt"l, "he worked
extensively for the sake of the yeshiva community."
In the summer of 5706 (1946), before the Yomim Noraim, the Mirrer
Yeshiva moved to the United States, where HaRav Baron married the
daughter of HaRav Chaim Eliezer Samson, with HaRav Chaim Shmuelevitz
serving as mesader kiddushin.
When HaRav Eliyohu Chazan, who served as a rosh yeshiva in Montreal
during the war years, moved to New York to serve as rosh yeshiva of
Yeshivas Torah Vodaas, HaRav Baron was recommended as a replacement,
and he indeed assumed the position, serving as the rosh yeshiva of
Montreal's Yeshivas Merkaz HaTorah for the next 24 years. He developed
the yeshiva, fostering the Torah learning of hundreds of students, and
was the first to send young men from Montreal to yeshivos
gedolos in the US.
In 5732 (1972) he founded Beis Medrash Merkaz HaTalmud, where he
taught until his health began to decline in 5766 (2006). During the
course of his 58 years in Montreal he taught thousands of students at
the yeshiva, at his beis medrash, at various shuls throughout the city
where he gave shiurim and through the many talks he gave,
imparting an appreciation for Torah in the general Jewish community.
He was able to influence many families to send their sons to the holy
yeshivas and raised the level of Torah study and mitzvah observance
among all segments of the Jewish community. He was also known for his
thorough knowledge of the history of the yeshivas and the Torah
luminaries of Lithuania, thanks to his sharp and precise memory.
Along with heading the yeshiva and giving classes, he also wrote books
on the Shas: Bircas Reuven, Bircas Yehuda, Nesivos
Lev, Yishrei Lev, Mesamchei Lev, Yismach
Chaim and Netzach Yaakov. In addition to his gemora
volumes, he also wrote a commentary on the Haggadah called Hagadas
Halev and a Chumash commentary called Das Yehudis, which he
wrote in his 90s.
The levaya was held Monday night at Yeshivas Mir in Jerusalem and he
was buried at Har Hamenuchos Cemetery.
HaRav Aryeh Lev Baron zt"l is survived by his only son, HaRav
Elchonon Baron — named after his father's rov muvhok,
HaRav Elchonon Wassermann Hy"d — who serves as rosh
yeshiva of Yeshivas Ahavas Torah Baranowitz in Jerusalem, and by
daughters married to prominent Torah scholars.