Monday, December 3, 2007
(Photo from here)
Two people of the older generation, personalities really, left us recently. The first is the Margaretener Rov, and the second - maybe 10 days later - was his Mechutan the legendary Mr. Fisher of Yeshivas Ch'san Sofer. The Margaretener Rov was one of the very few who still had positions in pre-WW2 Europe, being elected as Rov of SentMiklos, Transylvania in 1937. He was a kid from Drogemeresht, Romania who came to learn in the Yeshiva in Margareten that was started by the great Talmid of the Chasam Sofer, the MaHarYATZ, Reb Yehoshua Ahron Tzvi Weinberger, and was then lead by his son Reb Shmuel Zalman z"l. There he was given the title "Rosh Yeshivah," which was a term used for the eldest and Choshuvste Bochur. He also learned in Kashau and Nagyfoli. During WW2 he was granted a very rare certificate to travel to the Holy Land and was all ready to travel, but their lives were saved by their child falling ill, which they later learned was a blessing, since their ship sunk with all of their belongings aboard. His Rebbetzin was the only one of 11 children of Reb Shmuel Zalman that survived the Holocaust, and she continued to carry on the Margareten name until her death in 1974. After the War he decided to return to Margareten from Israel in order to rebuild what was left and to reorganize the Yeshivah. However, that too didn't last long with the ultimate ascent of the Magyar Communists to power in 1946. After a decade in Paris he eventually made his way to the United States. My father tells me of the time when he had a dream of building a community in "Lower Bensonhurst," when he had his Yeshivah there. That never worked out for them, although I know some of my siblings did attend school there. So, other than the Shul on 14th Avenue, and the Shechitah that carries his name, he was not what you'd call a modern-day "success" story like some of his lesser colleagues were. His only son died r"l BeChayov after collapsing on the street on hot summer's day in 5753, leaving his widowed father heartbroken. Although I never did meet him, though I lived near him all my life, I feel like I have a shtarke shayches to him somehow. The most famous of his brothers in law was probably the MaHaRaM Brisk of Tosnad, who also was murdered during WW2.
Mr. Fisher I did see often, since I learned there for a lengthy period of time, but I never did say two words to him or hear from him anything for that matter. He was chosen as the SIL of the Old Mattersdorfer Rov and worked for his institutions for over 60 years, working way past what you'd consider normal age. He insisted on being called "Mister," and he was granted that sincere by generations of YCS alumni. Based on his Shver choosing fine Talmidei Chachomim as husbands for his daughters I can safely assume that he too was a fine Talmid Chochom, but he never occupied positions like his BILs did. Some of them include Rav Binyomin Paller z"l, famed Talmid of the Griz of Brisk and Rosh Yeshivas Mekor Chaim, YBLCH"T Reb Simcha Shustal of Stamford, Rabbi Kagan from Denver, and Rabbi Cohen ZG"Z. His son Reb Dovid, a Maggid Shiur and Rosh Kolel in Ch'san Sofer for many years was married to the daughter of the Margaretener Rov z"l, so that he and his wife lost their fathers within a few short days. That must be tough on all involved, especially the grandkids. I wish I knew more and could write more about the Niftar, but I don't. I invite all of you who may know more, and I know there are YCS alumni who read this blog, to contribute whatever information they have about Mr. Fisher in the comments section.
Yehi Zichrom Boruch.
(Most of the biographical info about the Margaretener Rov was taken from "עולמי" , a memorial book of the Kehillos of Szeplak and Margareten; and history of the MaHaRYATZ and his descendants, compiled by Reb Ahron Hersh Ayalon (Weinberger) and published in Tammuz of 5758.)