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Royal Patriarch

Aharon Rubin

When Rav Elchanan Halpern of Golders Green in London passed away last week at age 93, he was, in all likelihood, the longest-serving rav in the world; as of this year, he had been serving in rabbanus for 73 years. But even if there is a rav somewhere who’s held a pulpit longer, no rabbi today has more descendants — close to 1,500 and counting, kein yirbu.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Rav Halpern — who was known as “Reb Chuna” — was born on Chanukah of 1922, in the town of Kosice (Kashau), Czechoslovakia. His father Rav Dovid was the av beis din of Dovshitz (Galicia) and a descendant of the great chassidic giants of Sanz, Brezhan, Ropshitz, Zlotchov, and Premishlan. Rav Halpern’s mother, Rebbetzin Mindel, was the daughter of the venerated Rav Shmuel Engel of Radomishle, the author of Sh’eilos U’Tshuvos Maharash.  Until he was 14, young Elchanan Halpern learned with his holy grandfather, Rav Shmuel Engel, who lost his eyesight at the end of his life. Another great tzaddik who lived in Kashau at the time and attracted the young illui was Rav Avraham Shalom Halberstam of Stropkov. With the rumblings of World War II in the air, Rav Elchanan fled Europe, escaping to London. When he went to take his leave of his rebbe, the Stropkover Rebbe wished him success in everything he would do — and that was a brachah that accompanied him throughout his life. His grandchildren relate that whenever he asked them to do something and they were unsuccessful, he would attribute the lack of success to a lack of effort. “The Rebbe blessed me with success in everything I would do, and his brachos were always fulfilled,” he would explain. “If success has not come, it means that the requisite actions have not been taken to bring it about.” When he moved to London, Rav Chuna became close with Rav Shalom Moskowitz of Shotz — who was also a relative — becoming his talmid muvhak. In addition to being Rav Elchanan’s rebbe, Rav Shalom also became his shadchan.RavChuna married a daughter ofRavNachumLidzerovsky, an Aleksander chassid and descendant of both the Baal Shem Tov and theNodaB’Yehudah.

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