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23 Elul 5773 - August 29, 2013 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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HaRav Yechezkel Abramsky, zt"l Author of Chazon Yechezkel

In honor of his yahrtzeit, 24 Elul 5736

Rav Yechezkel's hallmark was his unique clarity in learning and teaching. In learning and teaching he would quote his rebbe, Reb Chaim Brisker, as having said, "If there's something lacking in the explanation, then there's something lacking in the comprehension."

Sometimes, after giving a chiddush or explaining the Tosefta, after toiling for years and finally bringing out the light, he would insist that he has proof that his words are clear and true. "Because I told my Rebbetzin Raizel the chiddush and she agreed."

His listeners were surprised at his ra'ayo. The Rebbetzin's consent was the deciding factor on a pshat in a difficult Tosefta? Rav Abramsky smiled and answered, "If I could explain it so well that even the Rebbetzin understands, that's the sign that my words are correct and can be printed in my sefer."

As a young avreich, he stayed with his father-in-law, HaRav Yerushlimsky, zt"l.

During that era, Rav Yechezkel learned hilchos shechitah and treifos with his father-in-law. After they had covered a considerable amount, Rav Yerushlimsky suggested that Rav Abramsky come with him to the shechitah house to see things first hand in halochoh lema'aseh. The young man agreed to accompany him on one condition: Rav Yerushlimsky should discuss sheilos only with the shochtim as usual, and not with him, Rav Abramsky. As long as he hadn't learned the entire subject thoroughly and clearly, he would not say a word, only listen in.

The shochtim and the Rov alike were amazed at Rav Yechezkel's innate self control. Here was a young man who was currently learning all the seforim on shechitah, and yet did not react or offer his opinion on any shailoh. Why? Because he hadn't clarified everything to his own satisfaction!

However, half a year later, when he had covered everything there was to know, Rav Abramsky was back, and this time he was mefalpel and gave his opinion on every shailoh that arose, like one who had been dealing in the subject for years.

His method of learning was gleaned from Reb Chaim Brisker, still in Volozhin, and the Brisker Rov was known to have said that R' Yechezkel was one of those who wrote the chiddushim of the Grach in Volozhin.

Later, when the First World War threw Europe into chaos, Reb Chaim took refuge in Minsk. Rav Yechezkel would follow his Rebbe there and learn from him horo'oh. The Grach would say that he admired Rav Abramsky's approach to horo'oh, which he worked from the power of comprehension of the sugyos, just like the Grach's approach to learning, which has been adopted by yeshivos to this day.


The Jewish community in London was engaged in feverish activity. The Kehilla Machzikei Hadas was preparing to celebrate a siyum HaShas of those hundreds of Yidden who flocked to hear R' Yechezkel Abramsky. Due to the wondrous clarity of his shiur, Rav Abramsky's shiur drew large crowds of lomdei Torah and laymen alike.

All participants, including many guests — talmidei chachomim from near and far — waited in anticipation to hear the main speaker. Rav Abramsky would surely give a wonderful hadran as is customary at a siyum, connecting the end of the Shas to its beginning with profound pilpul, or likewise tying all of the masechtos together.

Rav Abramsky, however, had other plans. To him, it seemed some sort of game to try to stick the end of Shas to its beginning. Therefore, he explained, he would give a strong chiddush on the end of Shas. Ever strong and forthright, R' Yechezkel had no regrets, even when many in the crowd returned home disappointed.

R' Yechezkel's method of learning was always by way of a solid, clear explanation. A guest who stayed at R' Abramsky's home overnight, retold an anecdote. In the early morning hours, he awoke to the sound of R' Abramsky learning with a second person. His partner kept asking questions and Rav Abramsky gave the clear answers. Later, the guest asked who the dayan's chavrusa was. Rabbeinu smiled and, with a twinkle in his eyes, said, "When I prepare the shiur, I learn the material myself as though I am doing so with a talmid of mine. I ask on behalf of the `chavrusa' all sorts of questions that are likely to come up from talmidim and then I answer them and clarify them. In this way I know that the shiur will come out one hundred percent clear."


In his later years, when Rav Abramsky left the rabbonus in London and moved to Eretz Yisroel, he began giving shiurim in Yeshivas Slobodka in Bnei Brak. He once told his young talmidim that maseches Bovo Basra was the one in which he was the most erudite. "You know why?" he would ask rhetorically. "Because that is the masechta I learned and toiled over in the harsh conditions of Siberia, where in sub- zero temperatures a person could freeze to death.

"Therefore, dear young bochurim, strengthen yourselves in Torah learning, even during difficult times, for that learning will remain with you forever."


Rav Abramsky loved dearly a true talmid chochom and all lomdei Torah.

My father, shlita, tells the following episode, indicative of Rav Abramsky's straightforward, yet almost humorous way of getting things done.

A distinguished talmid chochom arrived in London to collect funds so that he could print a new Rambam with commentaries and an index. He wished to see Rav Abramsky, so that the Rov would persuade some wealthy Jews to help him cover the huge expenses involved in printing his sefer. Since my father was close to Rav Abramsky, the man asked him to arrange an audience. Rav Abramsky agreed to meet the guest on condition they were there exactly at the appointed time and kept the visit short, for he hadn't much time to spare.

My father borrowed a car from his friend so that he could transport and accompany the talmid chochom, assuring him that he would return it shortly, for anyway the Rov did not have more than a few minutes.

They entered the Rov's room and, almost immediately, the Rov began to talk in learning with the Yerushalmi guest. There ensued a lively discussion with chiddushim, kushyos and teshuvos flying back and forth, as the Rov totally forgot the clock. My father was a little nervous, for he had promised to return his friend's car shortly, but Rav Abramsky was suddenly in no rush at all now.

Finally, when they finished talking, after a long while, the Rov picked up the phone with a list of four well-to-do baalebatim in his hands. To each one in turn he said the same few terse sentences.

"Hello! This is Abramsky speaking. I have here a talmid chochom from Yerushalayim who needs money for his sefer. And I say that you will donate twenty-five pounds (a generous sum in those days!) and you'll bring the money to me. A gutten tog!"

Having finished his four phone calls, the Rav smiled to the guest, telling him to return to his lodgings and he would send him the money.


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