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28 Sivan 5773 - June 6, 2013 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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HaRav Boruch Shimon Schneersohn, Rosh Yeshiva of Tchebin

In honor of his yahrtzeit, 25 Sivan 5761/2001

The chinuch in Reb Boruch Shimon's parents' home was based on firm principles.

His mother, despite her intense love for her outstanding son, made sure never to kiss him when he was awake so that he would not become fussy and spoiled. Only at night when he was sound asleep would she allow her love to be expressed through a kiss on his forehead.

Indeed, her child grew up unspoiled and selfless and caring for all Yidden, even as a young boy.

A merchant from Russia once came on a business trip to Galicia and was a guest in their home. Seeing the eight- year-old R' Boruch Shimon davening with a concentration and fervor seen in adults of distinction, the man turned to him with a request. "Please when you say `Borech Oleinu' pray for me that I should be successful in my business deals."

To his surprise, the boy sighed, "Oi, so much on my head," as though he was already carrying the burden of many such requests.


As a youth he was once asked by the assistant of Reb Leibush of Berzhan to help spread a tablecloth over the table. R' Boruch Shimon willingly complied, but left one corner of the table uncovered, following the opinion in the Shulchan Oruch (Orach Chaim 560) that part of the table should not be laid, zeicher leChurban.

The shamash was annoyed, but the Rebbe immediately understood and reprimanded the gabbai, "What do you want of him? He knows what he's doing!"

When he was twelve he saw the sefer Sfas Emes al Hatorah. His heart was inexplicably drawn to it and, since his father did not own one, he would walk the long distance every Friday to the nearest Gerrer Shtiebel to learn from the holy sefer. His attachment to the Sfas Emes remained until the end of his days.

In the renowned Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin, R' Boruch Shimon was distinguished even among the great talmidei chachomim there. He was appointed by HaRav Meir Shapira to be a member of the Vaad — a committee made up of the cream of Lublin's talmidim. Their job was to test prospective talmidim who wished to join the yeshiva. In order to be admitted, a bochur had to pass a test on two hundred pages of gemora with Tosafos. Since applicants were not tested on the same masechta, a Vaad member had to be erudite in all of Shas.

R' Boruch Shimon enjoyed a particularly close relationship with the mashgiach of Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin, R' Shimele of Zelichov zt"l. A surviving talmid of the yeshiva related that once, when a group of talmidim pressed the Mashgiach to honor them with his presence at a seudah on Tu BeShevat, R' Shimele replied that if R' Boruch Shimon would be there he would also join them.

In addition to his intense diligence and mastery over all the Torah, R' Boruch Shimon zt"l had a phenomenal memory. He would cite whole chapters by heart. HaRav Mordechai Rimer zt"l, a mashgiach in the Tchebin Yeshiva in Yerushalayim, retold in wonder how on his travels with Rabbenu, R' Boruch Shimon would review Shulchan Oruch Yoreh Deah with Shach word-for-word without a sefer. He would add, "Had I not seen it with my own eyes and heard it personally, I would not have believed it."

A grandchild of his, once accompanied R' Boruch Shimon to a chuppah where Rabbeinu had been invited to be mesader kiddushin. The scheduled time was before shki'ah but somehow things got delayed and they had to wait until nightfall. Not wishing to waste those precious minutes, Rabbeinu turned to his grandson to "talk in learning."

"How many nafka minnas in halochoh are there between sunset and nightfall?" he asked his grandson. They began discussing the differences in halochoh until the stars had come out and it was time for the chuppah to begin.

In his constant exhorting his talmidim to strive upwards and reach heights in Torah, he would remark that when he was a bochur the aspirations and goals were so high that bochurim of seventeen years old would learn the difficult sugyos of takonas agunos.


The regular shiur kloli in Tchebin Yeshiva was in full swing. The hall was packed with bochurim listening intently and following the Rosh Yeshiva's every word. Suddenly, one of the older talmidim posed a difficult question, directed at the basis of the whole shiur. The Rosh Yeshiva listened to the question carefully and gave the matter a few long moments of serious thought.

Without flinching, he straightened up and announced, "You're correct!" Then he closed his gemora with a kiss and, to the amazement of all, stepped down and left the room, bringing the shiur to a close almost fifteen minutes early.

A talmid who was present at the time claims that the lesson of the incident was driven right to the hearts of the bochurim. "We had no doubt that the Rosh Yeshiva, with his wealth of knowledge and exceptional talent, could have refuted the boy's kushya and found a way out, at least temporarily in order to save face and finish the shiur. But to him, it was more important to teach us Toras emes!"


His extreme care for the feelings of others was legendary.

His son, the Rosh Yeshiva Reb Yosef Moshe shlita, retold how during the Six Day War, his father's concern for others reached the point of risking his safety. R' Boruch Shimon was in his room in the yeshiva, conversing on the telephone with his Rebbetzin who was at home in the Shaarei Chesed neighborhood. Suddenly, shots were heard from the direction of the Jordanian border, which was then in close proximity to the Yeshiva.

Someone rushed in to Rabbeinu and signaled that it was imperative that he go down into the bomb shelter. R' Boruch Shimon however, not wishing to cause his Rebbetzin to worry, continued the conversation calmly as though nothing special was happening.

Rabbeinu was on the way to attend the wedding of one his talmidim, when he suddenly stopped and turned back into the house. Taking a few sheets of paper and a pen, he put them in his pocket and proceeded. Upon arrival at the hall where the chuppah was to take place, R' Boruch Shimon asked to see the kesubah. Then, turning to the mechutonim, he maintained that when he is mesader kiddushin he prefers that the kesubah be handwritten. With the immediate agreement of the parents, R' Boruch Shimon drew out his pen and papers and proceeded to write the whole nusach from beginning to end.

After they had returned from the chuppah, the talmid who accompanied him asked him to explain his strange request.

The Rosh Yeshiva's explanation was simple: "Since today's kallah was a divorcee, the nusach of the kesubah must be written differently from the regular one. I was sure that the mechutonim didn't think of this, but I did not want to pain them by bringing up the subject of the divorce. So, I simply asked them if I could rewrite the kesubah, as I prefer it handwritten."


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