Monday, December 19, 2005

Our man in London - on his Yohrtzeit

הרה"ח ר' התמים מרדכי זאב בהרה"ח ר' שניאור חיים הכהן גוטניק משלוחי רביה"ק בעיר טיפליס
בגרוזיא. אח"כ רב בלונדון נולד תרנ"ז בעיר פריאסלאב ונפטר בשנת ה'תרצ"ב מנ"כ לונדון

This is how COL describes HaRav Mordechai Zev Gutnick z"l, father of Chaim, whose Yohrtzeit is Yud Tes Kislev. They have a few lines in which to describe the Nifter/es so they are limited. We'll try to expand on that, and with your help, will get a clearer picture.

More, from another website which shall remain nameless:

"Rabbi Mordechai Zev Gutnick, who was a talmid of Yeshivas Tomchei T’mimim in Lubavitch, and a shliach of the Rebbe Rashab and Rebbe Rayatz to Tbilisi in Georgia."

"RMZG miraculously received exit visas from the U.S.S.R. and the family moved to Eretz Yisroel and settled in Tel Aviv. In 5687 (1927), he received an offer of a rabbinic position in England. He wrote to the Rebbe Rayatz about it and the Rebbe not only agreed to it, he did everything in his power to make sure he got the position. The Rebbe sent letters to rabbanim and chassidim urging them to put the offer into action. The Rebbe’s efforts were successful and the Gutnick family left for England."

"R’ Mordechai’s hiskashrus was so strong that in the summer of 5689 (1929) he traveled to Riga in order to spend time with the Rebbe Rayatz after the latter had left Russia."

"R’ Mordechai died at the age of 34 on Yud-Tes Kislev 5692 (1932). This tragedy was devastating for Chaim, who was only ten years old. His mother then entrusted his education to the Telz rosh ha’yeshiva, who was visiting London at the time."

I took out most of the references to RCG simply because I wanted to focus on his father, a largely forgotten figure in Lubavitch history. There will be time for RCG later on. What I seem to remember is reading that RMZG contracted pneumonia by walking up and down the streets of London's East End on a cold and rainy day trying to keep Yidden from opening their shops on Shabbos. The fact that they saw the Rabbi is what kept them from doing business. Without anti-biotics to fight the illness he soon died at the young age of 34.

Yehi Zichro Boruch.

[Please excuse some of the below-level grammar here, it was copied and pasted for the most part.]



avremel said...

Interesing stuff here, Tzig. Which RY was there at the time?

וויי שיקט א חסידישע פרוי איר זון צו טעלז?

Friendly Anonymous said...

He was a 10-year-old orphan in London.

The results of her decision were outstanding

avremel said...

This is true, but hindsight is 20/20.

vml said...

Avremel, please don't show your bigoted ignorance.
Actually R'Chaim learned in a local yeshiva in London, either Chayei Oilom or Etz Chaim, which of course were not on the level of European yeshivas later on he travelled to Telz.At the time there was no friction between Chasidim or Misnagdim and London was no place to bring up kids with a chance for them being shomer shabbos yidden.Kfar Chabad claimed that the almono of R'Gutnick asked the RAYAT'Z if she should send him to Telz.
I happen to discount the stories of how partisan Chabad R'Mordechai Zev Gutnick was.He appears to have been a fine ehrlicheh person, but in the mold of once upon a time rabbonim who did not have the Lubavitch ubber alles syndrome.
R'Chaim Gutnick only became real Chabad many,many years later.In fact he only grew a beard around his daughter Peninas wedding!(She is R'Pinchas Feldmans wife from Sydney and close to 60)
R'Shmuel Levitins' son also studied in Telz and Telz actually had a shiur in Tanya!(which Chabad ubber allesyeshiva would have a shiur in Shiurei Da'as?)
In an interesting twist, I believe that R'C Gutnick was in Australia with Rebbetzen Dessler and kids,in a small group that was saved from Lita at the last minute and spent the war in Australia

Hirshel Tzig said...


Very good!

RCG planned on leaving after the war was over when he saw that a group of yeshiva students that hehoped to start a Yeshivah with decided to leave Australia after the war. It was the FR that told him to stay, telling him that it's min hashomayim that he's there, and that he'll be needed there later. The rest is history....

אברעמעל said...


try and keep to the information posted without getting personal, because 2 can play that game, OK?

The reason the Rebbe Rashab created Yeshivas Tomchei Tmimim was that his Bochurim didn't have to go to the Litvishe Yeshivos (you want to say that he didn't mean Telz, then prove it). A tomim who was sent by the RR to Soviet Georgia to spread Yiddishkeit probably absorbed what he learned in YTT, some of which pertained to Misnagdim. I would like to think that he would've preferred that his son go to Lubavitch in Otwock without that making him a "partisan". If the rebbe agreed to it, then fine, it would be "OK" then, although אז מ'פרעגט איז טרייף

Which of Reb Shmuel's sons learned in Telz, and was it in Europe or the USA?

AussieEcho said...

In order to clarify the first line of your post - Rabbi MZ Gutnick had two sons: Chaim and Sholom. Rabbi Sholom Gutnick was rabbi at Caulfield Shule in Melbourne for many years and also Av Beis Din of the Melbourne Beis Din. He is now retired.
Rabbi Sholom is the image of his father. In fact when your web page opened I initially assumed that I was looking at a photo of R'Sholom.

Here to help said...

There is a long write up about RMZG in Bais Moshiach 208-209

Hirshel Tzig said...

aussieecho, hello!

Is RSG affiliated with Lubavitch at all?

Gut YomTov

AussieEcho said...

Yes. R' Sholom has been a Lubavitcher and has affiliated with Lubavitch for at least as long as his brother Chaim.

They have very different personalities. Chaim was always more outgoing and more of a "community" rabbi which is why people seem to know more about him.

abc said...

actually R sholom was at they yud tes kislev farbrangen last night, though i must say, i didn't notice aussieecho there...

R sholom is far from retired, as though he officially retired from his position at caulfield shule, i believe that in the absence of a rabbi he is carrying out the role of rabbi.

vml said...

R'Sholom apparently has semicha from R'Elchonon Wasserman.
I don't know which son of R'Shmuel Levitin it was, but it was in Telz,Lita.R'Shmuel lived in a town close to Telz.If I'm not mistaken, only R'Shmuel survived the war, by getting out with the Rayatz?

Hirshel Tzig said...


no, no, no. Reb Shmuel was Rov in Rakshik, Lithuania. It was near Telz. He was here collecting money and was thus saved. He has and had many surviving children.

Aussies: is Meyer Gutnick the son of RSG?

AussieEcho said...

abc - you didn't look hard enough.

abc said...

yes meyer is son of SG.

vml said...

Hirshel, you are right, R'Shmuel has eyneeklach in Australia and seattle Washington for example.
How were his kids saved?

Hirshel Tzig said...


Ich gedenk nit af di moment, I'll try to look it up.

Binyomin Gorodetski was married to his daughter.

avremel said...

“מה’ מצעדי גבר כוננו ומאחר שהוליכה אתכם ההשגחה העליונה לאוסטרליה סימן שזהו מקומכם”. בהמשך המברק כותב אדמו”ר הריי”צ כי מאחר שסוף כל סוף תיגמר המלחמה, ואלפי יהודים יגיעו כפליטים לאוסטרליה,– יש לדאוג להכשיר את הקרקע לקראת בואם כדי שזו תהיה מקום תורה. “און מ’זאל קענען געפינען דעם אויבערשטן” [= שיוכלו למצוא את הקדוש ברוך הוא].

Kurenitzer said...

1. The other candidate for the London rabbanus of the Chabad shul was none other than rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson or so I recall reading in KFAR CHABAD magazine.
2. The reason the Gutnick brothers went to Telz is because the Rosh Bais Din in London rav Yecheskel Abramsky became the apetropus of the 2 brothers and he urged their mother that they be sent to Telz.
3. Chodakovs 's wifes family the Shochats had an intimate relationship with Telz , but at that point they were not chasidim.
4. I recall Rabbi Chaim Schneur Gutnick speaking at my graduation in the Lubavitcher school in NH in 1964, he was clean shaven and well groomed, looked like the local MO rabbis.
I saw him again in 1971 at the Lag baomer parade in CH in full uniform as the chief chaplain of the Jewish religion of the state of Victoria (not Australia) with a full beard.
5. It is clear that after 1927 Anash outside of Russia rarely sent their sons to TTL in Warsaw. In the Polish Kressy (the area of White Russia that politically was Poland after WW1 ) most sons went to Lubavitch in Vilna and afterwards to the regular Lithuanian yeshivas. My cousins all went to Novhoradok in Semiatiz(Pinsk) .Warsaw (Otwock) was not for White Russian teen agers with certain exceptions.It was probably too "frum" in chitzoniuth for the Lubavitcher people in the Vilna area.It seems that the Rayaatz was only successful in establishing a TTL school in Poland where the students were mostly of Polish Chasidic stock. Attempts at a TTL in Vilna was only partially successful and attempts elsewhere were often not successful.

vml said...

Kurenitzer:I remember speaking to a person who studied in Otwock, he told me that his father was a Gerer chosid, he was a bright boy, but to get into Chachmei Lublin you had to be a genius almost all the other Polish yeshivas were in the style of a 'shtiebel' were boys gathered to learn.For him the next best thing after Yacha'l was Lubavitch.It was set up as a real yeshiva in the Litvishe style and the rosh yeshiva R'Yehuda Ebber was a big talmid chochom whose learning style was similar to R'Shimon Shkops'.When R'Shimon was in town for datcheh R'Ebber took his talmidim to meet him.This guys profile is similar to almost everyone elses there, bear in mind Lubavitch hardly had any chasidim in Poland at the time.R'Hendel and the others from Montreal are all the same.So is R'Weinberg from the tanya on the air.(i think he was from the Trisker chasidim, if I'm not mistaken he mentioned some vort from him leluy nishmas his father)

Magyar said...


One thing I can see, that even though you're not a Lubavitcher, but the שנאה to the Hungarians stayed with you.

I could never understand that, never.

Kurenitzer said...

No sinah to individual Jews from Hungary. On the contrary they are in many instances the last remnants of of East European Jewry.
By telling the truth historically about Hungarian Jewry. I do not believe I am expressing hate for them. Most were Neolog and assimilated , a minority remained frum until 1944.
You can fudge the facts but they remain facts.
To accuse Lithuanian Jews of being assimilated etc shows a complete lack of understanding of what Lithuanian jewry was all about.

magyar said...

so maybe hate was a harsh word, but you get my point. The dislike for Hungarians proves to me, a proud Hungarian, that they must've done something right.

bpunbound said...

Kurenitzer said:

"Warsaw (Otwock) was not for White Russian teen agers with certain exceptions.It was probably too "frum" in chitzoniuth for the Lubavitcher people in the Vilna area"

Hey hirshel, wadda u know? Ein chadash tachas hashemesh. CE, where have i (and U) heard that line before? Maybe we call up Moshe S. and get started.

CE said...

Sorry to let you down, um, but... Moshe S.?

bpunbound said...


we'll talk

YS said...

When R"Chaim Gutnick was 18 years old he travelled to see the rebbe (rayatz),
he asked the rebbe if he can come to learn in tt and the rebbe said he should stay in telz,
the rebbe ) asked him how old he is he answered "18" then the rebbe tapped him on the shoulder and said to him "yungerman yungerman, when your father was your age he was boki in shas un poskim! vos iz mit dir?

agav, there is a 2 page letter that the Rebbe wrote to the rebbe rayatz that he met RMZG at a asifas harabonim in europe (RMZG was a rov in Riga before he wnt to EY then England) the rebbe is telling the rebbe rayatz about the maylos of RMZGutnick (this letter is currently in aguchs libary but there is some copies "arum"

also another reason we dont know to much about him is cause the rebbe instructed R MZG wife to burn all the letters that were sent to him after he was niftar!!!

apparently they had a very close yachas in kamo oifanim....

on london he was the rav haroshi whilst he was there....

in the reasont igrus kodesh chelek 17 published by kehos there is a few letters there

if you look at the toyarim the friediker rebbe titles him as they are very unique (ubifrat the rebbe raytz bchlal wrote big titles-fundesvegen his were unique!

unfortunatley he is one of the chassidim that we dont know to much about but what we do know....