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27 Cheshvan 5774 - October 31, 2013 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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HaRav Nochum Weidenfeld, zt"l Rov of Dombrova

In Honor of His Yahrtzeit, 2 Kislev 5700

Rabbi Nochum was born in the year 5635 (1875) to the illustrious Weidenfeld family of Herimlov.

When he was a bochur of fifteen, there was a great stir in the town. A respected Jew who lived in Herimlov was the proud owner of a special sefer Torah. Its ownership dated back to the holy Reb Meir'l of Premishlan, whose father, HaRav Aaron Leib a talmid of the Baal Shem Tov, began to write it. Reb Meir'l finished writing the sefer Torah, after which it passed through various hands. The sefer Torah's present owner in Herimlov guarded his precious possession as the apple of his eye. Even when he fell on hard times and was in desperate need of cash to marry off his daughters, he would not sell it, though exorbitant sums were offered him.

Due to its fragility, the sefer Torah was only used twice a year: on Yom Kippur and on Simchas Torah.

This year though, as the krias haTorah took place, the baal korei noticed a sheiloh as to the kashrus of the cherished sefer Torah.

The pride of the townspeople was wounded to its very core, not to mention the crushed owner. The sheiloh was placed before the rov of the town, the Kochav MiYaakov, zt"l, and all waited with bated breath to hear the outcome.

Together with the other poskim of the generation, the rov weighed the sheiloh.

The young bochur Nochum, who had heard the shocking news, decided also to sit and learn through the sugya - - from the gemora to the Shulchan Oruch and all the opinions of the poskim.

Coming to his own conclusion, the young genius wrote a clear and lengthy teshuvoh, rendering the sefer Torah kosher.

Without disclosing his age, R' Nochum sent his teshuvoh to the Maharsham zt"l. The latter, amazed at the depth and content of the letter before him, wrote in reply that he agreed with the "Rov, the writer," and added rare titles of praise.


At the age of twenty, R' Nochum was sent by his father with several other distinguished talmidei chachomim, to the Beis Yitzchok of Lemberg. The latter was to test them thoroughly in order to give them a hetter horo'oh.

After testing them, the Beis Yitzchok admitted that he was impressed. The young genius of Herimlov however, had stolen his heart and he requested that R' Nochum stay on in Lemberg another few days.

During the three subsequent days, the two of them covered many different Torah topics, after which the Beis Yitzchok wrote a unique hetter horo'oh for R' Nochum. In his sefer, the Beis Yitzchok even quoted a explanation in halochoh in R' Nochum's name.

He later wrote in a letter to his son-in-law, R' Nosson Levine, rov of Reisha: "The illui of Herimlov was here and I enjoyed immensely the vast knowledge and depth of wisdom of this young man."

In the year 5667 (1907), the heads of Kollel Galicia of Rabbi Meir Baal Haness met to discuss various aspects of the Kollel. At their head sat the venerable Maharsham, and together they saw a necessity to send a reliable rov to Eretz Yisroel to check the monetary situation. The emissary would also establish a committee to keep track of all the donations coming in and the expenditures on behalf of the poor of Eretz Yisroel. The only question was, who was qualified to fulfill this weighty and complex duty. The young rov of Dombrova, Reb Nochum, was chosen as the ideal candidate.

In order to carry out his mission faithfully, R' Nochum made sure to become closely acquainted with the gedolei haTorah in the holy land, particularly with the Ridbaz of Slutsk, who was living in Tzfas at the time.

This latter yedidus was a continuation of previous years when the Ridbaz had led his immense campaign for the mitzvah of shmittah. R' Nochum was among those who stood at his side from chutz la'aretz, sending him the maximum support necessary so that shmittah would be kept as it should. Rabbenu wrote many public letters at the time, pointing out that a person cannot claim to be fulfilling the mitzvah of living in Eretz Yisroel if he does not practice the mitzvos of doing so.


World War II was over and the survivors were trying to pick up the shredded pieces of their lives. Torah and halochoh began to grow again under the guidance of the remnants of gedolim.

The Rav of Tchebin, HaRav Dov Berisch Weidenfeld zt"l, was sitting and talking to HaRav Meshulam Roth. Their discussion was centered around a teshuvoh in halochoh that the Chazon Nochum zt"l, the brother of the Rov, had written.

A sheiloh had been put forward concerning a person in a hospital, quarantined with a contagious disease. Was it permitted to bring the sick person his tefillin since, according to law, even if the person recovered, all of his possessions that had been with him had to be burned, as having been contaminated by disease? Was it permissible to bring the tefillin to the choleh, knowing that afterwards they would be burned, Rachmono litzlan?

The Chazon Nochum had declared (like his brother, the rov of Tchebin) that it was ossur. When R' Meshulam Roth mentioned to the Tchebiner Rav that there were some who paskened that the tefillin may be profaned for the sake of the man fulfilling the mitzvah, the Tchebiner replied emotionally, "Had those who are matir sensed how my brother zt"l shuddered at the mere chance that tefillin were to be profaned and burned, I am sure they would never permit it!"

He then went on to relate the following incident.

"Towards the end of 5699/1939, with the advance of Hitler's, ym"sh, hordes into Poland, World War II began. The city of Dombrova was among the first to be hit in those first dreadful months. One night, my brother R' Nochum zt"l, rov of Dombrova, decided he must leave: leave his house, his worldly possessions, his entire library of seforim and, worse still, the boxes containing his chidushei Torah.

"He planned to flee the border towards Russia, but on the way the group was halted by the Germans. Their meager packages were immediately opened and searched, and when the Nazi guard came across R' Nochum's tefillin, he was seized by an inexplicable fury and threw them forcefully to the ground.

"Immediately, R' Nochum kneeled down to crawl after his precious tefillin, picking them up and lovingly caressing and kissing them. The rosho however, snatched them again and, with a curse, flicked them to the floor a second time.

"This time, as well, R' Nochum groveled on the floor to recover his precious, sacred tefillin, as he did a third time. Subsequently, the Nazi held a revolver to the rov's head, warning him not to dare to lift up the tefillin again. R' Nochum, torn by the disgrace to his sacred tefillin, stood frozen solid, his face ashen. He could not tear himself away from the holy tefillin, until he was driven away by force.

"Considerably weak, R' Nochum managed to cross the border, where he entered the nearest town, Shinova. There he knocked on the first Jewish house he could find and, upon entering, he suffered a massive heart attack."

Concluded the Tchebiner Rav, "My brother's heart could not bear the pain of seeing tefillin profaned and he passed away literally of a broken heart.

"On 2nd Kislev, an aching community of Shinova accompanied R' Nochum to his final resting place, close to the rav hakodosh the Divrei Yechezkel of Shinova, zt"l."


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