Title: Reb Dovid: The Life and Legacy of Rabbi Dovid Feinstein
By Yisroel Besser
ArtScroll Mesorah Publications
Yisroel Besser and Artscroll have done it again with a vivid and masterful portrayal of an adam gadol in our times. This time, they turn to Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Rosh Yeshiva of Mesivta Tiferes Jerusalem on the Lower East Side, posek and friend to all. The biography enlightens the reader as to how the son of Rav Moshe Feinstein was a humble genius even from an early age. He picked up the cartography skills he learned at an earlier age but his map for success was drawn through the many hours he toiled in learning, his shiur schedule and the time he gave to every yid. When 9/11 physically rocked the MTJ building as smoked whiffed past, he told the masmidim: “The best zechus is learning.” When a group of yidden were lost trying to find the FDR, someone walking on the Lower East Side assisted them turn by turn till they found the highway. That “someone” was Reb Dovid. His ruach hakodesh was revealed on a number of occasions. As an example, while it was normally the case that Reb Dovid would have ruled not to use the extra name added for someone who was suffering, r”l, to name someone after them, in one particular incident, he ruled for using the name. The next morning, Reb Chaim was reached by phone and confirmed the same. MTJ didn’t have bein hazmanin. On any day aside from yom tov, if you were not in the beis medrash, you must have had a good reason. Reb Dovid himself would shop for Shabbos; in one picture, we see him assist the Rebbetzin, Malka Feinstein, place the tablecloth on the dining room table.
When reading “Reb Dovid,” you would think this biography is about a gadol hador from hundreds of years ago. Yet, this was our dor’s gadol. It is the photos of people surrounding Reb Dovid, phones drawn, that really hit it home: we had a holy soul in our midst who we lost less than three years ago. Indeed, during the Yom Kippur davening of 2019, a student recalled seeing Reb Dovid’s face turn ashen during the “Avinu Malkeinu kerah roah es hagezirah.” It was the following March that Reb Dovid would visit an inmate to give him chizuk one day before the worldwide COVID-19 lockdown. Reb Dovid offered further physical, moral and spiritual support during the coronavirus pandemic through Zoom shiurim, calls and meetings. Nothing was too much for the Rosh Yeshiva. He adapted and persevered while never compromising on Torah-true values. Rabbi Dovid Feinstein was against an eruv in New York City. Yet, when someone carried on Shabbos in New York City, he said, “Leave them alone. They obviously have a competent halachic authority they relied upon.” In the book, we also see several incidents, of possibly hundreds, in which Rabbi Dovid Feinstein ruled against aborting a baby, only for baby and mother to make it through delivery in perfect health. This may have baffled the doctors, but the gadol hador gave his ruling. It was this siyata dishmaya that permeated every aspect of Reb Dovid’s life.
Reb Dovid himself “loaned” money to the nascent Jewish publishing house, Artscroll, in the 1970s. Rebbetzin Malka knew about this but didn’t know how much he gave. Today, “Reb Dovid” offers a priceless portrait of our dear Reb Dovid, an inspiration for all.