Volume 18 Number 66
                       Produced: Thu Mar  2  1:52:16 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Levayo of Rav Auerbach zt'l
         [Jonny Raziel]
Preserving the privacy of converts
         [Freda B. Birnbaum]
Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach: Eulogies and Perspectives
         [Harold Gellis]
Rav Schwab
         [David M Kramer]
Rav Schwab and Rav Auerbach
         [Mordechai E Lando]


From: Jonny Raziel <JONNYR@...>
Date: Sun, 26 Feb 1995 13:31:11 GMT+0200
Subject: Levayo of Rav Auerbach zt'l

I too attended the levaya of Harav S.Z Auerbach and was gratified to see
the cross section of Jewry who had come to honour this great and humble
posek. One of the reasons that compelled me to go, was the fact the
during his entire life, Rav Zalman ztz"l never allowed himself to be
identified (despite great pressure to do so) as the leader of one
segment of Jewry to the exclusion of another, and greeted everyone who
approached with the same degree of intimacy and attachment. He was truly
the Rabbi of all Israel. That is why I felt a great great sadness that
none of the eulogies were delivered in Hebrew. It seemed to me, that by
declaring in Yiddish that he never wanted to be a part of the world of
lies ('alma de'shikra') and that for him it was abhorrent and forbidden
('mukza machmat isur & mius'), this great man was being 'kidnapped' by
the organisers of the funeral, and were burying the unity and love which
he represented along with him.
                                 Yonatan Raziel


From: Freda B. Birnbaum <FBBIRNBAUM@...>
Date: Thu, 23 Feb 1995 14:23:03 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Preserving the privacy of converts

Here's a question that's puzzled me for some time.

On the one hand, I have read and heard from any number of sources that
the information that a particular Jew is a convert is that individual's
information alone, unless and until she/he decides to share it with
someone, to the degree that even if they have told you, you can't assume
you are free to tell other people.

On the other hand, male converts are supposed to be called up to the
Torah as "ploni ben Avraham Avinu".  (In a women's davening where the
custom has developed to call a woman up using both parents' names, this
is even more striking, even if all the person used was "... bas Avraham
v' Sarah" -- though I do know of a couple of born Jews named Avraham and
Sara who are married to each other, so their children are "ben/bas
Avraham v' Sara", though I suppose they have middle names too.

In a small book on this topic that I picked up at the Yeshiva U.
seforim sale (and THANKS for posting the schedule and making the online
catalog available!!  the only thing that would have improved it would
have been an "express checkout line" for those with fewer than 10 items
:-) -- not that I was one of those folks!), entitled _Jewish Conversion:
Its Meaning and Laws_ by R. Yoel Schwartz, pub. Feldheim), the author
indicates that one reason for this, especially in the case of minors
(e.g. adopted children) is to prevent confusion as to things like a
widow's need for chalitza, or to the Cohen/Levi/Yisroel status of the

How can we reconcile these two needs, for preserving privacy and for
preserving accuracy?  (I know there is at least one other recent book on
this subject, and I will try to get hold of it.)

Freda Birnbaum


From: Harold Gellis <gelyc@...>
Date: Tue, 28 Feb 1995 17:52:20 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach: Eulogies and Perspectives

(Editor's note: Last evening, February 27, Hagaon Rabbi Shlomo Zalman
Auerbach, zt"l, was eulogized in the GRA synagogue in Shaarei Chesed by
Rabbi Rosenthal, the rabbi of the GRA synagogue, Rabbi Kolitz, chief
Rabbi of Jerusalem, and by Rabbi Auerbach's surviving brother and by a a
son. Following are a collection of observations and perspectives on the
life life and times of this great zaddik, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman, zt"l).

Unimaginable poverty characterized the early childhood of the man who 
would become one of the greatest scholars and halachic authorities of our 
time.  Rabbi Shlomo Zalman was born in Shaarei Chesed at a time when 
electricity, plumbing, and running water were nonexistent.  Food was 
practically not available either. 

Rabbi Shlomo Zalman would often remark to his brother: "Today we are 
experiencing good years. I experienced the bad years."  For Rabbi Shlomo 
Zalman, there were also good years and bad years.  In his good years, 
Rabbi Shlomo recalls that his mother would take one egg, fry it with 
flour, and serve the fried egg to three children.  One egg for three 
children! These were the good years.  The bad years were characterized by 
afflictions, sufferings, anguish, insults, and persecutions!

Rabbi Shlomo Zalman would go to yeshiva without eating.  Rabbi Rosenthal 
quoted a saying from Avos Drav Noson that 'one thing earned in sorrow is 
better for a man than a hundred things earned in luxury.'  This 
characterized the struggles that Rabbi Shlomo Zalman experienced in day 
to day existence.  Rabbi Rosenthal then quoted the posuk "zos hatorah 
odom ki yomus baohel" - this is the torah; a person when he dies in the 
tent.  Rabbi Shimon Ben Lakish in Gemara Berachos notes that in order to 
merit mastery of the Torah, one must kill himself on its behalf.  The 
fact that this posuk occurs in the parsha of Chukas is significant.  Just 
as the Poroh Adumah, mentioned in Chukas, is a "chok," an inscrutible, 
divine ordinance defying logic and explanation, so is the principle of 
killing oneself on behalf of the Torah, a mandatory prequisite, in order
to master its inner secrets.  This was the secret of Rabbi Shlomo Zalman. 
a life spent on mastering the Torah despite personal adversity and 

In his early childhood, his family was forced to sell their house and 
move into a rented place not suitable for ten children.  Though there was 
no bread in the house, the children did not cry.  The pawnbrokers took 
all the property in the house as collateral for debts incurred, and still 
the children did not cry.  A valuable pin dating back three generations 
was pawned, and still the children did not cry.  But, when the seforim of 
the family were taken by the pawnbrokers - the children cried.  For this 
was their most valuable possesion.

Rabbi Shlomo Zalman's mother seemingly possessed an uncanny intuition.  
When her son did not learn, she admonished him.  She seemed to sense what 
her children were doing at all times.  Despite his protestations to the 
contrary, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman couldn't convince his mother that he was 
learning if he really was not learning.  For his mother would watch 
constantly, through a window, to see what her children were doing.

Rabbi Shlomo grew up in two "houses."  One was his parent's house in 
Shaarei Chesed where Rabbi Shlomo was born, grew up, learned, and died.  
But he had another "house" as well.  That was the house of his wife and 
the house of her father, Reb Leibel Ruchomkin, a teacher in the Etz Chaim 

Many leading rabbis and Torah scholars sought the precocious Rabbi Shlomo 
Zalman for a son-in-law.  But, ultimately, it was Reb Leibel Ruchomkin 
who energetically and relentlessly pursued the Torah scholar who would 
become his son-on-law for his only daughter.  Providence had dictated 
that it was in this second house, of the humble and not illustrious abode
of Reb Leibel, and in this second house alone that Rabbi Shlomo Zalman  
could flower into the towering Torah giant of the age and be Rabbi Shlomo 

Rabbi Shlomo and his wife lived in one apartment with his in-laws and ate 
at one table with them.  Nevertheless, Reb Leibel respected the privacy 
of his son-in-law. Never would he interrupt his studies, unless it was an 
absolute emergency.

When Rabbi Shlomo Zalman was asked to become the rosh yeshiva of the Kol 
Torah yeshiva, Reb Leibel Ruchomkin asked him: 'farvos darfstu dos, zeit 
in lernen' - why do you do need this (to become head of the yeshiva)? 
Remain in learning.  Reb Leibel's admonition did not prevail; Rabbi 
Shlomo Zalman became head of the world famous Kol Torah yeshiva. But, Reb 
Leibel had another admonition which Rabbi Shlomo obeyed - not to move to 
Bayit Vegan.  In his wisdom, Reb Leibel Ruchomkin viewed his son-in-law 
as a sefer torah, a torah scroll, and the torah scroll must remain in its 
place - in Sharei Chesed, and not move to Bayit Vegan. 

Rabbi Kolitz, the chief rabbi of Jerusalem, marveled how Rabbi Shlomo 
Zalman would come to hear his shabbos shuva lectures, even when it was 
hard for him to walk.  After one lecture, two years ago, Rabbi Kolitz  
asked Rabbi Shlomo Zalman why he had to trouble himself to come to the 
lecture.  Rabbi Shlomo Zalman answered: 'noch a yohr vehl ich kumen' - I 
will come again for one more year.  And sure enough, in a remarkable 
sense of premonition, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman did attend one more lecture of 
Rabbi Kolitz's shabbos shuva lecture.

Rabbi Chanina, a scholar of the Talmudic era, remarked on observing Rabbi 
Elazar Ben Azarya, a contemporary scholar of the same era,  that 
Rabbi Elazar's eyes resembled those of Ezra the scribe, Rabbi's Elazar's 
ancestor from ten generations ago.  Similarly, noted Rabbi Kolitz, Rabbi 
Shlomo Zalman's eyes resembled those of the previous generations - how 
many generations previously we do not know!  May the soul of Rabbi Shlomo 
Zalman Auerbach be a source of merit for the entire Jewish people.

Heshy Gellis


From: David M Kramer <david_m_kramer@...>
Date: Mon, 27 Feb 95 20:19:45 EST
Subject: Rav Schwab

 The following two stories regarding Rav Schwab z"l appeared in 

>Later Rav Schwab was rescued from Europe by a certain 
>gentleman and brought to be a rabbi in this man's shul in
>Baltimore. Once this man (shul president) wanted an aliyah for his 
>father's yahrzeit. Rav Schwab refused since the man was not shomer 
>shabbat. The president reminded Rav Schwab that he had rescued him 
>and brought him to the shul. Rav Schwab answered that he was grateful 
>but could not change the halachah. Rav Schwab was fired on the spot. 
>The end of the story was that Rav Schwab moved to the Agudah shul 
>which became very successful while the former shul declined with the 

>Rav Schwab refused to have anyone help him on with his jacket. As a 
>young "bachur" in a yeshiva the elderly gentleman from the 
>neighborhood would come to the yeshiva to help in many menial tasks 
>as their way of helping Torah. One gentleman in particular would help 
>(the future) Rav Schwab on with his jacket. When the elderly man 
>passed away thet found that he had in his house many writings on the 
>Talmud and Zohar. So far from being a "am haaretz" this man was a 
>secret great talmid Chacham. Rav Schwab then took a vow never to have 
>some outsider help him with his jacket.

This past Shabbos I related both stories to a grandson in-law of Rav
Schwab z"l, Rabbi Jonathan Siedeman, and to Mr. Kurt Flamm, a talmid
chacham, chaver, long time friend of Rav Schwab z"l, a member of
Congreagation Shearith Israel for half a century, and the president of
the Shul at the time that Rav Schwab left.

The first story is simply not true.  Some time after becoming the Rav 
of Shearith Israel, Rav Schwab enacted a rule that only shomer shabbos 
worshipers could become synagogue members.  However, both before and 
after this rule anyone, shomer shabbos or not, was allowed to receive 
all kibbudim (honors) in the shule.  Mr. Flamm added however, that on 
Yom Kippur Rav Schwab instructed the gabbai to politely request anyone 
receiving a kibbud (including opening the ark) to remove their shoes.  
If they did not comply (which rarely occurred) they would not receive 
the kibbud.

Rav Schwab remained in Shearith Israel after the shomer shabbos
membership rule, even though a large part of the congregation left to
form a new shule a block away.  (The Aguda was not opened for another
two decades). When Rav Schwab did leave, it was to assume his duties in
Washington Heights.

Today Shearith Israel Congregation is thriving shul, and under the
leadership of Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer for the past 8 years, maintains its
role an integral part of the Baltimore Jewish community.

As for the second story, neither Rabbi Siedeman nor Mr. Flamm had ever
heard it. Mr. Flamm was visibly agitated by both stories and said that
they don't portray Rav Schwab at all.  He suggested that I attend the
hesped (eulogy), which he will be giving next week, if I want to know
who he really was.  He then added, with his stern German accent, "I
can't believe that people are saying such fairy tales about Rav Schwab."


From: Mordechai E Lando <landom1@...>
Date: Fri, 24 Feb 1995 11:38:05 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Rav Schwab and Rav Auerbach

Eli Turkel wrote beautifully about these two torah giants.  Allow me to
clear up some points.  Rav Schwab had only one rabbinical appointment in
Baltimore.  He was the rav of the German (yekke) kehilah, Shearith
Yisroel. This shul is known colloquially as 'Glen Avenue' for its
location. He was never rav of the Agudah shul.

  I don't believe there was an Agudah shul in Baltimore in those
days. To the best of my knowledge, Rav Moshe Heinmann was the first and
only rav at the Agudah here.

My oral tradition is that Reb Shlomo Zalman in his hesped for his wife
said:(not a verbatim quote)" I am not asking mechillah, because in the
54 years of our marriage there was never a reason for either of us to
ask mechillah from each other."

Moishe Halibard rightly emphasized that Reb Shlomo Zalman was not
involved in faction politics.  He was truly *umpartayish* nonaligned and
beloved by all.  A yerushalmi friend once told me that someone went to
Reb Shlomo Zalman for permission to reprint a sefer Reb S.Z. had written
in his youth.  He told Reb S.Z. that he was not going to reprint the
has'ko'mah(approbation) that Rav Kook had given the sefer before its
first edition.  Reb S. Z. replied "I worked hard for that haskomah.  If
you don't reprint it, you can't reprint the sefer."

Mordechai E. Lando ha'm'chu'nah Yukum


End of Volume 18 Issue 66