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The View From The Beis Medrash

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Yahrzeit Of Reb Moshe Feinstein

This Shabbos, 13 Adar (February 23), is the 27th yahrzeit of Reb Moshe Feinstein, zt”l (1895-1986). Reb Moshe was born in Uzda, Belorussia, escaping from Russia to New York in 1936. He became the rosh yeshiva of Mesivta Tiferes Yerushalayim on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and was revered as the gadol and posek hador. His p’sakim continue to guide us through every aspect of our lives.

Reb Moshe authored Dibros Moshe, a compilation of his chiddushim on Shas, and Igros Moshe, a seven-volume compilation of his halachic rulings. Darash Moshe, a commentary on the Chumash, was published posthumously.

Rav Moshe Feinstein

Rav Moshe Feinstein

At age nine he had completed the Gemara on Seder Nezikin, at eleven he finished Seder Nashim, and at age sixteen he had completed all of  Shas and Shulchan Aruch. His father instructed him to write his first halachic teshuvah when he was just eighteen years old.

Reb Moshe was known for his genius and diligent study habits. Near the end of his life he was visited by a close talmid who inquired about Reb Moshe’s wellbeing. The talmid was startled when he was told, “not good.” When the talmid inquired as to what had happened, Reb Moshe responded that his doctor had just ordered him to add one hour of sleep each night due to his physical condition. Until that point Reb Moshe would sleep from 12 midnight-3 a.m. But the required additional hour of sleep prompted Reb Moshe’s answer that things were not well because “I will become a complete am ha’aretz.” It should be noted that at this time, Reb Moshe was already considered the posek hador.

Reb Shmuel Birnbaum, zt”l, the rosh yeshiva of the Mir Yeshiva in Brooklyn, learned that the best time to reach Reb Moshe was at 4 a.m. when Reb Moshe began his first seder. Reb Shmuel called Reb Moshe to ask him several of his most difficult questions on the Gemara in Eizehu Neshech (a very complicated perek that deals with the halachos of ribbis). Day after day, Reb Moshe offered a direct solution to each question. At one point Reb Shmuel commented that he was fortunate to have caught Reb Moshe while he was learning the sugya. Reb Moshe responded that he had not learned the sugya b’iyun in several years!

Reb Moshe did not waste any of his time, giving much of that precious time to listening to and helping others. He would humbly greet and converse with everyone, even individuals who went unnoticed to others. An example of that humility was when a certain woman would call Reb Moshe every Friday afternoon to ask him what the candle lighting time was. Each week Reb Moshe would answer her as if this was a serious shailah. Yet another example was when another woman once approached Reb Moshe’s home and was told that Reb Moshe was unavailable. She pleaded that she needed to see Reb Moshe because she had just received a letter from her sister in Russia and needed someone to translate it. She was told that Reb Moshe could not be bothered with such things. The woman responded: “But he has been translating my letters for twenty years!”

Reb Shmuel Birnbaum was once asked whether another rav was permitted to argue with Reb Moshe. He responded that indeed one may disagree, but added that one would have to be completely insane to do so. He explained that in order to argue, the battlefield must be leveled. So let us compare: Reb Moshe, a tremendous genius, remembered all of his learning. He was never influenced by anything other than Torah. And he had learned Shas more than 150 times. And on the other side…

For many, Reb Moshe’s absence is felt most when new complex shailos arise and we lack someone of Reb Moshe’s stature – a standing that could bear the responsibility of an entire generation on his shoulders.

Yehi zichro baruch.

Satmar Rebbe Visits Boro Park

Satmar Rebbe

Satmar Rebbe

Matzav reported that although Snowstorm Nemo dumped much snow on New York two weekends ago, it could not disrupt or dampen the spirits of the Shabbos spent in Boro Park by Satmar chassidim with Rav Aharon Teitelbaum, shlita, of Satmar.

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