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What’s Mine and Yours is Hers

Riki Goldstein

Rebbetzin Sarah Leah Kushelevsky devoted her life to the learning of her husband and his students in Yeshivas Heichal HaTorah. With her passing on Rosh Chodesh Nissan we lost a woman who embodied Eishes Chayil.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

His mission was her mission. Rav Tzvi Kushelevsky, a towering talmid chacham, held many prestigious positions spreading Torah across Europe and Eretz Yisrael — each one requiring yet another move to a new place. And his loyal rebbetzin, Sarah Leah (Toki) Kushelevsky, gladly trekked to each new locale along with him. If he was where he was needed, that was her place too, and she was happy to be there. The self-sacrifice of the Rebbetzin for her husband and his Torah was such that when her husband’s yeshivah Heichal HaTorah needed funds to complete its building, she sold the apartment they owned in Har Nof to finance it and moved into a rental apartment. For the Rebbetzin, a home for the yeshivah came before her own home. It’s no surprise, then, that the yeshivah became her home and its students, her children.   Strong Roots Middos and yiras Shamayim were as much part of the Rebbetzin’s essence as her astute intelligence — all trademarks of her distinguished lineage. As her sister-in-law and cousin Rebbetzin Sarah Gurwicz puts it, “She inherited these from her parents and grandparents — they were part of her upbringing.” When Rav Elyah Lopian’s eldest daughter, Chana Liba, came of age, he left London and went back to his Lithuanian birthplace to find her a chassan. In the Mir, Rav Elyah found what he was seeking — young Leib Kushelevsky (who subsequently changed his name to Gurwicz, his mother’s maiden name, to enable him to leave Lithuania without legal problems). The famed mashgiach of Mir, Rav Yerucham Levovitz, suggested that Leib ask the Chofetz Chaim whether he should pursue a shidduch from England — a place at that time devoid of Torah — even if he had the intention of returning to live in Mir. The Chofetz Chaim’s cryptic reply was, “Baruch Podeh u’Matzil [Blessed is the One Who redeems and saves].” Young Leib askedRavYeruchamLevovitz for an explanation, and he told the young man that theChofetzChaim had intended him to leave. The prophetic reply became clear whenRavLeib was saved from the inferno that soon engulfed Lithuanian Jewry. 

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