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101 Years of Light

Rabbi Yehuda Heimowitz

From his youth, Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg was considered something of a wonder – an American bochur who learned with the fire associated with the great yeshivos of Europe. That hasmadah would remain with him throughout his life, as well as something more: the ability to inspire an entire generation through both his personal example and his outstanding ahavas Yisrael. Although he was taken from us last week, the legacy he passed on and the life lessons he demonstrated will continue to reverberate.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

rav sheinbergTo anyone who attended simchahs in Yerushalayim – a bris, a bar mitzvah, a chasunah – the sight of Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg was familiar enough. Whether he joined the simchah as a grandfather, great-grandfather, or great-great grandfather, or in the capacity of Rosh Yeshiva or gadol hador, all eyes would quickly turn to him as he was wheeled into the room.

And when your eyes settled on his face, you couldn’t help but keep your gaze fixed on him. His countenance, invariably graced with a smile that was a fixture on his lips, shone with a glow that lit up his surroundings.

On Wednesday, 27 Adar, as tens of thousands filed past his home on Rechov Panim Meiros 2 en route to the levayah at his yeshivah, Torah Ore, the symbolism was too obvious to miss: With little warning, Hashem had snatched the Panim Meiros, the Radiant Countenance, rosh yeshivah ofTorahOre, the Light of Torah, from us.

Full Days

“The Rosh Yeshivah lived exactly 101½ years – and each day of those years was a full day,” said Rav Yisrael Gans, a rav in Mattersdorf, where Rav Scheinberg was the mara d’asra for nearly a half-century.

Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg was born in Ostrov, Polandon 27 Elul 5760/1910. Shortly before his birth, his father, Reb Yaakov Yitzchak, fled Europe and it would take close to nine years before he could bring his wife, Yospa, his son Chaim Pinchas, and another child to join him in America. In an interview with Mishpacha’s Eliezer

Shulman four years ago, Rav Scheinberg recounted that his mother was so committed to his Torah education that while in Europe, she would travel to a farm to buy milk wholesale, which she would retail in order to pay her son’s melamed.

At age 14, when Chaim Pinchas graduated from RJJ (Rabbi Jacob Joseph) elementary school, his future father-in-law, Rabbi Yaakov Yosef Herman (who was immortalized in All for the Boss, written by Rav Scheinberg’s sister-in-law Ruchoma Shain) was influential in sending him to the yeshivah in New Haven, Connecticut, where he learned under Rabbi Yehuda Zev Levenberg ztz”l. After 2½ years in New Haven, Chaim Pinchas returned to New York and studied in Yeshivah Rabbeinu Yitzchok Elchonon. Rav Scheinberg’s son and successor yblcht”a Rav Simcha Scheinberg, revealed at the shivah that when Rav Chaim Pinchas left New Haven, they held a seudas preidah for him, at which he made his first siyum on Shas — at the age of 16½!

Rav Yitzchak Sheiner, rosh yeshivah of Kamenitz, who was friends with Rav Scheinberg for many decades, put this achievement into perspective: “It was unusual for children growing up in America in those days to remain religious,” Rav Scheiner said at the levayah, “let alone to become a gadol in Torah and yirah.”

Moreover, later in life, Rav Scheinberg would tell talmidim that he wasn’t blessed with innate genius. “If I, who used to sell newspapers onDelancey Street, could get to where I am, then you can achieve much more,” he would say.

 

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