With the battle being waged by the Reform and Conservative movements against the religious status quo in Israel, particularly at the Kosel, Rav Shmuel Rabinovich turned to Rav Chaim Kanievsky for advice on who should be asked to decide the Torah approach to these matters.
Rav Chaim’s response was clear and brief: “Rav Avigdor Nebenzahl.”
Rav Nebenzahl was the rov of the Old City of Yerushalayim for some 40 years.
For years, the gedolim have relied on Rav Nebenzahl regarding issues in Yerushalayim, including challenges to the holiness of the Kosel and its environs.
Rav Chaim echoed that trust by directing Rav Rabinovich to Rav Nebenzahl to rule on thorny and difficult questions, such as when to compromise and when to stand firm in the face of challenges by those who wish to dilute Judaism.
The recent accommodation at the Kosel with the egalitarian section for the Reform was agreed to after consultation with Rav Nebenzahl, who felt that fighting that would have ensured that the matter would be presented to the Supreme Court, which could render a more harsh decision for the Kosel plaza.
Rav Nebenzahl, born in 1935, is the senior Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh, a faculty member at Yeshivat HaKotel, the rov of the Ramban Shul in the Old City of Yerushalayim, and was the chief rabbi of the Old City of Yerushalayim before handing the post over to his son, Rav Chizkiyahu Nebenzahl.
Rav Nebenzahl is also a former faculty member of Yeshivas Mir, and was Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach’s chavrusah for over 40 years.
His seforim include a commentary on the Mishnah Berurah, volumes on the Yomim Tovim and Shabbos, and more.
Rav Nebenzahl’s father, Yitzchok Nebenzahl, was the State Comptroller of the State of Israel from 1948 to 1981, Israel’s Ombudsman from 1961 to 1981, and held senior positions in the Bank of Israel and the Postal Bank. His sister Plia Albeck served as legal adviser to the Israeli Government for most of her professional career.
Rav Nebenzahl’s wife, Rebbetzin Shifra Nebenzahl (née Finkel), passed away last month.
David Steger – Matzav.com Israel