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My Machberes

Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, zt”l

Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, zt”l

Acceding to the wishes of his mother, who wanted him to achieve semicha (ordination) before he married, Chaim Pinchas immediately plunged into the necessary texts. On the eve of his wedding, Rabbi Soloveichik and associated roshei yeshiva of Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchanan presented Rabbi Chaim Pinchas with a scroll of ordination into the rabbinate.

* * * * *

The newlywed couple chose to pursue a life of intensive Torah study. In 1930, they moved to Mir, Poland, and Rabbi Chaim Pinchas studied there under Rabbi Eliezer Yehuda Finkel, zt”l (1879-1965) and developed special relationships with Rabbi Yeruchim Levovitz, zt”l (1873-1936), the mashgiach at the Mir Yeshiva, and with Rabbi Avrohom Zvi Kamai, zt”l Hy”d (1860-1941), rav of Mir who was murdered in the Holocaust. Though the standard of living in Mir was rather backward (no running water, unpaved streets, etc.), especially to a young woman from New York, Rebbetzin Basha Scheinberg, a”h (1913-2009), gave her husband powerful resolve to study Torah from early in the morning until late at night.

In 1935, in order to comply with United States citizenship requirements, Rabbi and Rebbetzin Scheinberg returned to New York. Rabbi Scheinberg was offered the position of maggid shiur at the New Haven Yeshiva. In 1938 he was drafted as mashgiach at Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim in Williamsburg under the leadership of Rabbi Dovid Leibowitz, zt”l (1889-1941).

In addition, Rabbi Scheinberg was elected to the pulpit of Congregation Anshei Ostrov on the Lower East Side, comprised mostly of immigrant families from Ostrov, Rabbi Scheinberg’s place of birth.

The entire Scheinberg family was totally dedicated to the yeshiva and to the shul. Though they did not have many material possessions, Rabbi Scheinberg always proclaimed that if you have Torah you have everything.

* * * * *

In 1960 Rabbi Scheinberg established Yeshiva Torah Ore in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. He was assisted by his brother, Rabbi Shmuel, and by his son-in-law, Rabbi Chaim Dov Altusky. On the day of its opening, Rabbi Scheinberg entered the beis medrash with a sefer under his arm, accompanied by his rebbetzin who had a basket full of sandwiches for the students. The yeshiva that day consisted of six talmidim. But the yeshiva grew steadily, attracting boys from all over the area, including the local Sephardic community.

With a great love for Eretz Yisrael, Rabbi Herman and his sons moved to Israel in 1963. Unable to resist the call, Rabbi Scheinberg moved Yeshiva Torah Ore to Kiryat Mattersdorf in Jerusalem in 1965, where he became the dayan and served as posek. The yeshiva continued to grow. In the weeks preceding the Six-Day War in June 1967, when American and foreign students of other yeshivas went home, Torah Ore students remained in their beis medrash. When air raid sirens were sounded, Rabbi Scheinberg and his students took to the bomb shelters, eating and sleeping there. The yeshiva seder continued uninterrupted despite the bombings taking place right outside. The yeshiva grew, and in 1971 acquired its own building in Kiryat Mattersdorf.

Rabbi Scheinberg contributed greatly to Torah scholarship. He authored Taba’as Hashulchan on Ketzos Hashulchan in four volumes; Igra D’Shemata in five volumes; Meluei Even in four volumes; Emunah Ubetuchone; Responsa Mishmeres Chaim; as well as Shiurei Rebbe Chaim Pinchas.

Through the years Rabbi Scheinberg taught thousands of students. Many were sons, grandsons and great-grandsons of former students. His warmth encouraged students to maintain communications and report their simchas, endeavors, and learning to him, decades after they left the beis medrash to pursue livelihoods and build families. Even at his advanced age of 101 he never had a free moment to simply relax. He was either deep in a sefer or talking, in person or by phone, to a student, former student, or to someone asking a sheilah.

He was unique in his observance of mitzvahs. The commandment to wear tzitzis, fringes on squared garments, had him wearing dozens of square garments. He never explained why, though some assumed he was fulfilling every possible variation of the mitzvah.

He made many fund-raising trips to support his yeshiva, which presently has a student body of more than 800 as well as one of the largest kollels in Israel. His last trip to the United States, at age 101, was to support the learning of Torah at the yeshiva.

* * * * *

On Friday afternoon erev Shabbos Vayakheil-Pekudei, Rabbi Scheinberg was admitted to Shaarei Tzedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. The Torah world mounted a campaign of Tehillim for Chaim Pinchas ben Yuspa. Sadly, reports out of Jerusalem told of a deterioration in Rabbi Scheinberg’s condition. Rabbi Scheinberg passed away on 26 Adar surrounded by family members and students.

On Wednesday morning, the 27th of Adar, tens of thousands thronged the streets around Yeshiva Torah Ore to attend the funeral. They heard eulogies by gedolim for more than three hours. The bier was then carried aloft and, with an escort of tens of thousands, brought through the neighborhoods of Kiryat Belz, Malchei Yisroel, and Meah Shearim to the Neviim section of Har Hazaysim just before sunset.

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One Response to “My Machberes”

  1. michael pell says:

    We have lost a great leader in the Jewish world. May his family be comforted among the mourners of Zion. Hopefully a publisher will translate Rabbi Scheinberg’s zt”l works into English.

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