The eleventh of Nissan is the yahrzeit of Rav Yisroel Eliyahu (Elya) Weintraub (1932-2010). Born in Brooklyn he attended Yeshiva Chaim Berlin and developed his approach to Jewish thought from Rav Hutner. Subsequently, he attended the Mir Yeshiva in Brooklyn and studied under Rav Abba Berman and Rav Shmuel Berenbaum.
Rav Elya published his first sefer in 1956, on the Talmudic discussions of dealing with issues where the facts are in doubt, and donated all the proceeds to educational initiatives. After a brief stint as mashgiach in Chaim Berlin he moved to Yerushalayim in the early 1960s, and then in 1965 to Bnei Brak where he joined Kollel Chazon Ish. Living on Rechov Rashbam he was a neighbor of Rav Chaim Kanievsky, and was a chavrusa of the Steipler Gaon. After the Six-Day War he was asked by Rav Leizer Shach to write an article explaining the spiritual significance of the Israeli victory.
He began to give regular talks to a select group of students and was known for his strong ideology. Rav Elya vehemently opposed anything he viewed as a departure from tradition. He focused much of his attention on the study of Kabbalah, especially the writings of the Vilna Gaon. Over the years he gave countless shiurim on these topics. He engaged in a battle of pamphlets with Rav Yitzchok Ginsburgh over what Rav Shach, transmitted through Rav Elya, believed were positions held by Chabad that were contrary to Torah. He wrote an article in Yated Ne’eman castigating an academic who he felt had written disrespectfully about the Arizal.
Rav Elya was known for his focus and concentration while learning or davening. He once required surgery for a fractured hip and refused anesthesia. He explained afterwards that he just started to focus on aleinu and he didn’t feel a thing.
He published a number of seforim in his lifetime and more have been published since his passing based on recordings and the notes of attendees. Included are a six-volume commentary on the commentary of the GRA on the Safra D’Tzniusa, an important section of the Zohar that explains the Kabbalistic structure of existence, two volumes on Mavo She’arim which presents the Arizal”s structure of Kabbalah, and an in-depth commentary on Hakdamos U’Shearim of the Baal Haleshem. Recently, seforim on Chanukah and Purim based on his teachings have been published. Overall, more than twenty-five volumes of his teachings have been published.
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Among the derashos he gave was a eulogy he delivered in 2001 for his student Rav Shimshon Dovid Pincus (1944-2001) who was killed along with his wife and daughter in a car accident on the twelfth of Nissan. Born in New York, Rav Shimshon Dovid Pincus attended Bais HaTalmud and was primarily a student of Rav Leib Malin who greatly impacted the way Rabbi Pincus would live the rest of his life. The summer z’man in Beis HaTalmud ended with Tisha B’Av which fell out on Shabbos one year. Most of the bachurim went to the Catskill Mountains before Shabbos which violated Reb Leib’s rule. Reb Leib said that if Tisha B’Av was pushed off until Sunday, so too should yeshiva.
On Friday night only two bachurim were left in yeshiva. They felt quite good about the fact that they were the only two bachurim who adhered to Reb Leib’s rule. The bachurim went to Reb Leib after davening to wish him a gut Shabbos. Reb Leib wished them a gut Shabbos and quickly added in Yiddish, “But you do not deserve a yasher koach.” Reb Leib was teaching them that one does not deserve a yasher koach for doing what is expected of him.
Rav Shimshon then went to Eretz Yisrael to learn by Rav Berel Soloveitchik. Rav Shimshon married Chaya Mindel Mann, whose father was rosh yeshiva of Bais Hillel in Bnei Brak. They lived in Tifrach and subsequently moved to Ofakim while Rav Shimshon served as mashgiach in the Yeshiva in Ofakim.
He later became rosh yeshiva in Yeruchem, and, at the behest of the Steipler and Rav Shach accepted the position of rav of Ofakim, a position he held for twenty years. Rav Shimshon studied Kabbalah, his primary teachers were Rav Yaakov Hillel and Rav Elya Weintraub. He davened from a siddur that contained the kavanos of the Rashash.
Rav Shimshon and Rebbitzen Chaya Mindel had twelve children. Rebbitzen Pincus taught at several seminaries in Bnei Brak. Later she was the principal of the girls’ elementary school in Tifrach. When they moved to Ofakim she founded a girls’ elementary school there. Towards the end of her life she opened a high school for girls. Sadly, Rav Shimshon and his wife were killed in a car accident, along with their nineteen year old daughter Miriam, on the twelfth of Nissan. In addition to Rav Elya Weintraub others who spoke at the funeral which was held at Yeshiva Torah Ohr, were Rav Chaim Kamil, Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg and Rav Yakkov Hillel.
Rav Pincus had been known as a dynamic speaker, frequently emphasizing the need to feel close to Hashem and the importance of being a positive example for others. He traveled a number of times to Chile to offer encouragement to the Jewish community there. He published seven seforim during his lifetime on topics such as Shabbos, davening and emunah. Since his passing close to twenty seforim have been published based on recordings of his shiurim, on topics such as the yomim tovim, the role of women, education, and the weekly parsha.