Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Zeide?

BPUnbound, what do you think?


Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

Nah, it sounds too controlled.

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

read this:”l%20on%20Eretz%20Israel%20and%20Medinat%20Yisrael

Anonymous said...


You think this is my Zeidah?

Anonymous said...

That's right. RYEH was too eidel to have an einikel like yourself....

Anonymous said...

I realize I must be an ignaramous, but who is that picture of?

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

I'm sorry, I should've mentioned it. It's HaRav Yosef Eliyohu Henkin.

Anonymous said...

Some info on the good Rabbi, if I may.

(Based on a eulogy by the late Rabbi Naftoli Zvi Yehuda Riff)

Rabbi Yosef Elyahu Henkin

He not only shielded the true measure of his gadlus from the public, but he managed to "hide himself" from his immediate family and closest acquaintances, as well. Throughout our entire relationship, I never imagined that this frail human being recited "Tikun Chatzos", in mourning for the Bais Hamikdash, every midnight. In fact, I did not become aware of this fact until after I had known him for many years, and then only by chance. Night after night he would sit in his house lamenting over the desecration of the Torah and the dispersion of Klal Yisrael, sharing the Shechinah's grief. But this was only one of the myriad acts of tzidktus he concealed from us all.

Rabbi Henkin carried on his shoulders the plight of literally tens of thousands of families throughout the world - their daily well-being was his daily personal concern - yet he never revealed to a soul who these families were except on the occasion of a government audit.

Rabbi Henkin never turned anyone away without a suitable sum of money. In those few instances when the recipient felt that what he received was not sufficient, he did not react as others might: by telling the beneficiary that his case was not the only one, that there are hundreds of others just as needy. Rather, Rabbi Henkin would send the man or woman away with tears, explaining that he understood how great the need was, only wishing there were additional funds to do more.

His weekly salary as the director of Ezras Torah was $50 - a paltry sum, by any standard. At one of our meetings, a resolution was raised to increase Rabbi Henkin's salary. He immediately rose from his chair and declared: "Must I leave Ezras Torah?" The less his personal benefit from Ezras Torah, the greater the aid for talmidei chachamim in distress.

He was a baki beShas (thoroughly knowledgeable in the entire Talmud) - both Bavli (Babylonian) and Yerushalmi, as well as the four tracts of the Shulchan Aruch. Once, in my presence, he received an urgent phone call from Eretz Yisrael and he resolved the problem, which apparently defied easy solution to those who called him, relating to marriage laws, without reference to single sefer.

Rabbi Henkin could never be found sitting at home without a sefer in his hand - often a volume of Shulchan Aruch, or the Responsa of the Chasam Sofer.

On several occasions I noticed Rabbi Henkin refer to a mysterious small notebook. He once revealed to me that in this notebook he kept a log of those minutes during the day that he did not utilize for Ezras Torah. He was not involved with his own personal business during those minutes, but when someone came to his office at Ezras Torah to discuss divrei Torah or if he received a telephone call, as he often would, from anywhere in the world requesting his opinion on a particular problem or sha'aila, he immediately looked at the time and noted in his record how many minutes he had borrowed from Ezras Torah. He would then know how many minutes to "make up" on behalf of Ezras Torah-related work.

When Rabbi Henkin was a boy of 15, he traveled to the city of Slutzk hoping to be accepted into the Yeshiva Gedolah of Reb Isser Zalman Meltzer. (One of the maspidim noted that he left for Slutzk when he was only fourteen, but he was detained on the way for a year. During that year of delay he reviewed the entire Masechta Eruvin forty times!) Upon meeting him for the first time, Reb Isser Zalman asked him why he had come all the way to Slutzk. The youngster replied that he wanted to attend the Yeshiva. To the other talmidim standing there this seemed absurd. They were young men already accomplished in their learning, talmidei chachamim in their own right, and here was a mere boy of 15 seeking to join their ranks!

Reb Isse r Zalman continued: "Tell me, my son, what have you learned?'

"Masechtos Shabbos and Eruvin."

Astonished that a young boy had learned these difficult tractates, he asked: "Are you prepared for an examination?"

"Yes," the youngster replied, whereupon Reb Isser Zalman questioned the boy on the entire breadth of the two masechtos. He answered all challenges with ease, exhibiting an extraordinary knowledge and understanding of every Rashi and Tosefos. Rav Isser Zalman was flabbergasted: "This child knows these masechtos better than I do!" Rabbi Henkin was immediately admitted to the Slutzker Yeshiva.

His superior acumen notwithstanding, Rabbi Henkin possessed great humility as a talmid and this characteristic remained with him his entire life. Although his knowledge of Torah spanned all basic Talmudic literature as well as the responsa of the latter day sages (Acharonim), Rabbi Henkin always preferred to remain in obscurity.

He was an exceptionally good-hearted and pleasant person, loved by young and old. Yet, when the occasion called for it, Rabbi Henkin asserted his authority.

He once became aware of a certain dispute and intervened. He reprimanded both parties with sharp words. The mere sight of Rabbi Henkin stepping out of character to intercede immediately put an end to the conflict.

His words apply equally to himself: He never sat at the dais at conventions or meetings; he never voiced his opinion in public; nor did he even express the worry or apprehension he harbored deep in his heart over the plight of tens of thousands of families throughout the Diaspora. And yet, it was Rabbi Henkin who, from a distance, was the prime mover in many undertaking (such as the establishment of the vast Ezras Torah apartment complex for needy talmidei chachamim in Eretz Yisrael).

This past summer, before I left for Eretz Yisrael, I went to take leave of Rabbi Henkin. He asked me when I would return to America because there was so much work to be done. Our parting was marked by tears flowing down Rabbi Henkin's cheeks over the misfortune of the families he carried in his heart.

Just as he was an advocate for one and all on this world, may he continue to be a meilitz yosher for all of Klal Yisrael from his a place in Gan Eden.

Anonymous said...

Rav Henkin. He was not "nehene from Olam haze k'mlo nima". He lived in a apt with broken down furniture. His salary was not enough to get a cup of coffee.He was confident enough to wear a aviators hat with ear flaps in the winter --- no flying saucer for him.No technacolor robes , no shtrukes, or gold tipped canes.
He blasted the Rav of 550 Bedford Avefor his militant and public opposition to the State of Israel.He called their demonstrations - redifa. halevai we would have someone like him today. In this he was joined only by the Lubavitcher rebbe who had troops to defend him from the terror squads. See the booklet DER Rebbe und der satan where Mr. Chaim Lieberman (not our man) describes Rav henkins oppostion to the rav of 550 Bedford.Its a great book, which we have in the library here at YU. It describes in detail the terror of these people. I laugh now when is ee the terror used by the 2 groups in Satmar land against each other !!!~
Rav Henkin was also a rav in Russian Georgia. He left 2 wonderful sons I knew Dr. Louis Henkin in Columbia a prince of a man. We used to daven together in the Ramath Orah shul at 110th Street. His other son Dr. Hillel Henkin was director of the Board of Jewish education in NH Ct and a talmid chochom.
Becuase he did not publish his responsa like rav Moshe , he has been all but forgotten as a posek. But in the period of 1935-1970. he together with rav Moshe and the Rav were viewed as the highest halachic authorities in the US. And rav Henkin p'sokim were on par with rav Moshe except that he published only a little.Zecher zaddik Livrocha

Anonymous said...

Kurenitzer - yasher kayach. There were some writings of Rav Henkin published by Ezras Tayreh though, posthumously I think.

Anonymous said...

having kids to follow in your ways is difficult to come by, seemingly.

Anonymous said...

Certain times and situations are more difficult than others - like when parents move to a new land with young children. However, it seems that his sons did follow in his ways, even if they were not Rabbonim. Must they be in the exact same line of work to be considered 'following in his ways' ? Also, his grandson is a Rav.

Anonymous said...

there's a rabbi Henkin in israel, (thank you google) Is that his grandson?

Anonymous said...

Rav Yehuda Herzl Henkin is the rav's grandson.
I forot to mention Ezras Teyre whose charity work is legendary. the firt director of this group in the US was none other thanthe Tora Tmima Rav Epstein who was in the Us for a few years.