Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



End of an Era

Yisroel Besser

He was as unpretentious as they come, but the Torah of Rav Rafael Shmuelevitz was precise and exact — his mind filled with neat files of each sugya and thousands of subcategories. Yet that didn’t stop him from taking down the garbage or answering yungeleit while standing on the crowded, noisy bus ride to Mir. And even when his body was ravaged by ALS, he remained steady, present, real, and enduring — a prince of the postwar Torah world.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

There’s something about them, the whole family. In the Shmuelevitz progeny, two dynasties converge — that of Slabodka and Novardok, where utter simplicity meets absolute grandeur. Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz’s mother was a daughter of the Alter of Novardok, Rav Yosef Yoizel Horowitz, while his rebbetzin — daughter of Rav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel — was a granddaughter of the Alter of Slabodka, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel. But it’s more than just genetics that marks this family of Mir’s famed rosh yeshivah as unique. The brothers — Rav Rafael ztz”l and yblct”a Rav Meir and Rav Avrohom — have been fixtures in the halls of the Mirrer Yeshivah for decades, arguing, debating, laughing, reiterating, and laughing again. Reb Chaim’s kinder. What was the secret? In a shmuess, the late rosh yeshivah Rav Nosson Tzvi ztz”l, reflected on the words of Rashi in Maseches Shabbos (12b), that an adam chashuv, a person of stature, may learn by the light of a candle on Shabbos. Why? Because of his inherent “chashivus,” there is no suspicion that he’ll tilt the candle toward him as he learns. Rav Nosson Tzvi quoted Rosh Yeshivah Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz’s explanation: “A groisse mentsh, a great man, doesn’t do small things.” Then, Rav Nosson Tzvi added a personal memory. “I remember how at the sheva brachos of one of his children, Rav Chaim repeated this idea and expressed a tefillah, a hope that his own children would be honorable people — chashuvim — in this way, rising above pettiness.” Rav Nosson Tzvi smiled and spread his arms apart, beaming at the crowd, as if to say See? The tefillah worked. And that is the secret.

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
 
Evolution vs. Revolution
Shoshana Friedman I call it the “what happened to my magazine?” response
Up, Up, and Away
Rabbi Moshe Grylak What a fraught subject Eretz Yisrael is, to this day
Where Do You Come From?
Yonoson Rosenblum Could they be IDF officers with no Jewish knowledge?
Heaven Help Us
Eytan Kobre Writing about anti-Semitism should rouse, not soothe
Work/Life Solutions with Chedva Kleinhandler
Moe Mernick “Failures are our compass to success”
An Un-Scientific Survey
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Are Jerusalemites unfriendly? Not necessarily
Out of Anger
Jacob L. Freedman How Angry Lawyer was finally able to calm down
5 Things You Didn’t Know about…Yitzy Bald
Riki Goldstein He composed his first melody at eight years old
When the Floodgates of Song Open, You’re Never Too Old
Riki Goldstein Chazzan Pinchas Wolf was unknown until three years ago
Who Helped Advance These Popular Entertainers?
Riki Goldstein Unsung deeds that boosted performers into the limelight
Your Task? Ask
Faigy Peritzman A tangible legacy I want to pass on to my children
Are You There?
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Emotional withdrawal makes others feel lonely, abandoned
A Peace of a Whole
Rebbetzin Debbie Greenblatt Love shalom more than you love being right
Seminary Applications
Rabbi Zecharya Greenwald, as told to Ariella Schiller It’s just as hard for seminaries to reject you