Saturday, July 10, 2010

the little man from Groswardein

Yehuda Klein was his name. Born in Groswardein, Transylvania, home of the Vizhnitzer Court between the two wars, he nevertheless drifted to a Litvishe derech, having learned in one such "Litvishe" Yeshivah in his hometown. He was drafted into Munkatabor. He made aliyah and fought in the War of Independence. Klein was too "galuti," so Amital was how "er hut zich geshribben" from now on. He built a Yeshiveh, and invited RIETS's (and maybe YRCB's too...) greatest product - Rav Ahron Lichtenstein - to join him, not worrying about RAL stealing the spotlight. He raised thousands of Talmidim who loved him dearly. He passed away early Friday at the age of 85. It's funny how we think of all Hungarians toeing the line and following shitas Satmar or shittas HaChasam Sofer VeTalmidov. Hungarian frum Zionists/Mizrachi are few and far between in my circles. Apparently some people didn't like the fact that people like Bibi and Shimon Peres had nice things to say about him upon his passing; that somehow told these people "all they needed to know about him." They cared nothing for what he did in life.

People are weird. I often stay away from them.

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Anonymous said...

Shepperd and Steinbrener in one week, and you say nothing!!!!


Melbournite said...

Pleased to see this obit here.

He was one of a kind and not in any of the opposing camps of today.To do that and keep anivus is a major achievement.

Anonymous said...

wow , in 2 weeks u mention the 2 people the rebbi refused enterance,,,rabbi OY and S.P....

Anonymous said...

u forgot to mention that he leaned to the left on all issues of the Merkaz Horav/Misnachlim ideologies.

schneur said...

Rav Amital was a model roah yeshiva.
1. He was as you indicate "mochel al kevodod and invited a man much more well known than himself and a scion of a well known family to take control of the yeshiva alongside himself.
2 Several years ago he retired and bechayav appointed 2 younger men including one of Sefardic background to take over the yeshiva and as far as I can tell neither one is related to him.Will we ever see this in lakewood ?
3, His wife is the grand daughter of Reb Isser Zalman Meltzer , yet he was not locked into the yichus game.
4. His writings on the Holocaust also available in Englih are among the few genuine orthodox books tackling the events of 1933-1945 from a frum perspective . They talk about tough questions, no platitudes here.They are worth reading especially this week.
5. Not many Hungarian rabbonim joined the mizrachi, but in the 1950's most Hungarian Jews in srael were part of Mizrachi. Yes the chassidim may have joined Satamr or the other groups but most Hungarian jews -shul Yidden - who came to israel were now in the Mizrachi.Their children were in the vanguard of the hesder yeshiva movement
The movement was full of people with names like Krauss,Grunwald Weingarten, Farkasz,Spitzer, , Grosz and the like.
If you were in the Young isreals of Kew Garden hills YI of Hillcrest YI of State island and other modern shuls etc etct in the period of 1960-1990 when these people were passing on ,you would have noted the same. Most Hungarian Jews upon arrival to the US or Israel did not join Satmar. But the birthing room data over the last 50 years served to create that impression.

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention that several of the leading Chardal rabbis were opposed to his novel approach to studying "pshat" of Tanach. They felt it was disresepectful to the Biblical greats.

Those who fayf on Mesoras Havos all suffer from this - נקוט האי כללא בידך

The Bray of Fundie said...

I can't khop why you write such a complimentary obit with so dismissive a title?

Trying to hedge your bets?

Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

et tu, Bray?

after all these years?

His name was Klein....

The Bray of Fundie said...

sorry...I didn't khop. I thought he was just a short man.

Still... dissing his name change which is part and parcel of his Religious-Zionist ideology shmeks of Satmar dismissiveness and belittling the whole mentsch and his

Muh Nifshukh, was he entitled to his opinions? Then toikh shiva is not the time to say bikores/ make khozek of it...Was he not entitled? Then don't write glowing obituaries about him.

I never knew much about him before although a few of my childhood friends were Gushniks they always spoke more about RAL. (A majot overreach to call him CBs greatest product BTW). Overall you painted a very flattering picture of the man so...Shkoyakh.

David Glasner, נכד מרן החת"ס זי"ע said...

Just to follow up and slightly correct Schneur's comment, Rav Amital did not offer to put Rav Lichtenstein in control of his yeshiva "alongside" himself but "instead of" himself. The offer to Rav Lichtenstein was to be the one and only Rosh HaYeshiva. Rav Amital's son asked him, "ha-im atah muchan le-vateir al ha-kol?" He answered, "kein, ani muchan le-vateir al ha-kol." Rav Lichtenstein accepted the offer, but only on the condition that Rav Amital continue to serve as co-rosh-yeshiva together with himself. Where else do we find an example of midot terumiot like this one?

Rav Amital not only married the granddaughter of Rav Isser Zalman (the daughter of R. Tzvi Yehuda Meltzer, in whose yeshiva Rav Amital studied and taught), he received semicha from R. Isser Zalman.

Rav Amital's rebbi muvhak was Rav Haim Yehuda Levi, HYD, a grandson of the Dor Revi'i, who left Hungary to study for many years in the Mir and with many of the gedolei Lita including R. Haim Ozer and R. Baruch Ber. He returned to Hungary and started a yeshiva in Grosswardein in 1940 (in which Yehuda Klein studied from its inception until the deportation) to teach the Litvishe derech ha-limud to the backward Hungarians.

Anonymous said...

Any more info. on Rav Haim Yehuda Levi H"YD? I imagine he was an Oberlander/Ashkenaz as opposed to Chassidish. Correct? How was the Yeshiva and the views espoused therein viewed by Rabbonim, Rebbes in Hungary? The fact that he was a Hungarian who learnt in Lita (and then came back to establish a Yeshiva in Ungaren) seems pretty unique.

David Glasner said...

Although he was my father's first cousin, I have no personal information about R. Haim Yehuda Levi. At the end of his chidushim, Ressissei Tal, R. Amital wrote some beautiful words of remembrance of his rebbi. He also quotes from the words of Leah Fuchs Chayen in her book "From the Depth I Call." Here is a translation of his translation of what she wrote about R. Levi.

Among them (i.e., among those who were staying in their house when Grosswardein became a ghetto) was a young rabbi, Rabbi Levi, Rosh Yeshiva, together with his wife and three small children, the eldest of whom was five or six. What nobility and admirable conduct, until the last moment when we reached Auschwitz! We were in the same freight car.