Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Posek for a World at War

Eliyahu Ackerman

Who was the dayan of Brisk, referred to by Rav Chaim Brisker in his writings as “my good friend, Rav S.Z.”? Rav Simcha Zelig Riger Hy”d left none of his own seforim as a legacy, but as an integral part of Brisk and confidant of the Soloveitchik gedolim of prewar Europe, his name continues to be venerated as a remarkable halachic arbiter and a rav dedicated to his people until the end. His grandson, Rav Chaim Ber Gulevsky, shares his memories of the zeideh he left when he fled Europe for safer shores.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

posek during the warBoro Park, the corner of 46th Street and 18th Avenue

Outside, an evening wind rustles the treetops as another ordinary weeknight descends upon Brooklyn. But as we cross the threshold of the Gulevsky home, we are drawn into a different era and days long passed. Indeed, even after decades of living in America, Rav Chaim Ber Gulevsky has remained an old-time Brisker. He has retained his asceticism, his disdain for the vanities of this world, and the sharpness and incisiveness that characterized the Torah scholars of Brisk.

Rav Chaim Ber Gulevsky turns out to be like fine wine that grows better as it ages, as his vitality and drive fill the room. And on the wall across from him hangs a picture of his revered grandfather and inspiration, Rabbi Simcha Zelig Riger Hy”d, the chief halachic authority of the town of Brisk.

I am accompanying Rabbi Shimon Yosef Meller, researcher and author of The House of Brisk and Yeshivas Chevron, who is now in the middle of his newest research project: after having published a four-volume sweeping biography of the Brisker Rav, Rav Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik, he is now putting together a definitive biographical work surrounding the life of his father, Rav Chaim HaLevi of Brisk. Such a project wouldn’t be complete without including the illustrious personalities associated with Brisk at the time, and if there is anyone today closely related to those personalities, leave it to Rav Meller to ferret them out. So when he discovered that the grandson of Rav Simcha Zelig Riger, the dayan of Brisk, was alive and well in Brooklyn, he wasted no time paying him a visit.

Rabbi Chaim Gulevsky has spent decades disseminating Torah, authoring seforim, and teaching students. In addition, he possesses a vast store of incredible memories relating to the gedolei Torah and the prewar yeshivah world.

Rav Gulevsky is a contemporary of the rosh yeshivah of Brisk, Rav Meshulam Dovid Soloveitchik, and he was a childhood friend of many members of the Soloveitchik family. They grew up together; they were the children of the rav, while he was the grandson of the dayan. With the outbreak of World War II, Rav Gulevksy fled from Brisk to Vilna, where he joined the students of the Mir Yeshivah on their historic flight to Shanghai. After the war, he settled in New York, where he raised a family of Torah scholars who continue to be a credit to his holy grandfather.

 

 

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


 
Top-Down Theory
Shoshana Friedman Our true currency, the accomplishments we value most
Strive for What Binds Us
Yonoson Rosenblum The chareidi community represents something of an oasis
Embracing Victimhood
Eytan Kobre Combating the allure of victimhood
The Kids Are Going to Camp, the Parents Are Going Broke
Miriam Klein Adelman Mindy has to feel good; it doesn’t matter that I feel ba...
Work/Life Solutions with Carlos Wigle
Moe Mernick “Rejection is Hashem’s protection” 
How to Create a Simple 900-Page Novel
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman All of us can reset the titles of our own lives
Stand There or Do Something
Baruch S. Fertel, MD, MPA, FACEP It’s called collaborative care, and it works miracles
I'm Here — Are You Ready?
Riki Goldstein Upbeat and catchy, but still makes listeners think
Back in Time
Riki Goldstein "I wish I could recapture that excitement"
Mixed Messages
Riki Goldstein The unsung craftsmen who give albums their special touch
Go in Peace
Faigy Peritzman Inner peace makes us vessels for blessing
All Work and No Play
Sarah Chana Radcliffe A life only about doing your duties loses all its color
Dying to Believe
With Rav Moshe Wolfson, written by Baila Vorhand Emunah peshutah is the force behind Jewish continuity