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


MM217
 
What’s in a Name?
Shoshana Friedman “What does Writer X have to say this week?”
Atonement — Fake and Real
Yonoson Rosenblum White confessionals and faux rituals
Four Walls Coming Full Circle
Eytan Kobre All the while, there’s been a relationship in the offing...
And Yet We Smile
Yisroel Besser We are the nation that toils to be happy at all costs
Out of This World
Rabbi Henoch Plotnick Dirshu Hashem b’himatzo — we are in Hashem’s company now...
Steven and Jonathan Litton
Rachel Bachrach The co-owners of Litton Sukkah, based in Lawrence, NY
Tali Messing
Moe Mernick Tali Messing, engineering manager at Facebook Tel Aviv
Sick Note
Jacob L. Freedman “Of course, Dr. Freedman. Machul, machul, machul”
Avoiding Health Columns Can Be Good for You
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Only one reliable guide for good health: our Torah
Endnote: Side Notes
Riki Goldstein Most Jewish music industry entertainers have side profes...
Me, Myself, and Why
Faigy Peritzman Where there’s no heart and no love, there’s no point
Can’t Do It Without You
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When you step up to the plate, you build your home team
Eternal Joy
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz The joy of Succos is the fruit of spiritual victory
The Appraiser: Part III
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer Make sure your child knows his strengths
Hidden Special Needs
Rena Shechter You won’t see his special needs, but don’t deny them
Dear Wealthy Friend
Anonymous There’s no need for guilt. I am truly happy for you