Three years ago, Klal Yisroel was plunged into sadness with the sudden passing of Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel zt”l, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Mir Yerushalayim, following a heart attack. Rav Finkel was 69 years old.
Rav Finkel was born on March 12, 1943, in Chicago, Illinois, to his parents, Reb Eliyohu Meir and Mrs. Finkel, and was named after his elte-zaida, the Alter of Slabodka, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel. Rav Nosson Tzvi later married a daughter of Rav Beinish Finkel, a son of Rav Eliezer Yehudah Finkel, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Mir. Rav Nosson Tzvi’s wife was a second cousin of his.
Rav Nosson Tzvi became rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Mir-Yerushalayim in 1990 following the petirah of his father-in-law, Rav Beinish. He also served as a member of the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah in Eretz Yisroel.
In his later years, Rav Nosson Tzvi suffered from Parkinson’s disease and demonstrated inspiring levels of bitachon and strength. He once remarked that he didn’t take certain medicines for his illness, because his doctor had told him that it would have an effect on his memory. “I’d rather be ill my whole life than to forget even one word of the Torah hakedosha,” he said.
The loss was a devastating one for the entire Olam Hatorah, for which Rav Nosson Tzvi was a living example of mesirus nefesh for Torah and the Ribono Shel Olam. Books have been written about Rav Nosson Tzvi’s devotion to his talmidim and to Yeshivas Mir, whose budget of millions of dollars was shouldered by Rav Nosson Tzvi, who undertook yearly trips abroad to raise funds for the yeshiva, despite his debilitating condition. There were few individuals of our dor who inspired as many people as Rav Nosson Tzvi did with his mere presence, his smile, his emunah and bitachon, and his astonishing gevurah in light of his circumstances.
Just as inspiring to many of his talmidim and others in the Torah world was Rav Nosson Tzvi’s humble upbringing. He grew up as a child in Chicago, an American kid – backpack, baseball cap, and all – and went on to become one of the most venerated roshei yeshivos of our generation, garnering the respect of the gedolei hador and the masses for his yedios haTorah, his ahavas haTorah, his hasmadah, his ahavas Hashem, his ahavas Yisroel, and his boundless love and dedication for the thousands of talmidim of Yeshivas Mir-Yerushalayim, which, under his stewardship, grew into one of the largest – if not the largest – makom Torah in the world. Also, under his leadership, Yeshivas Mir opened branches in various locations, including Brachfeld in Modiin Illit.
On the yahrtzeit of Rochel Imeinu, Klal Yisroel lost an unparalleled individual, a diamond that Klal Yisroel was blessed to have as a leader, as a rosh yeshiva, as a gadol baTorah, and as a living example of the way the Ribono Shel Olam wants each of us to conduct our lives.
Chaval al de’avdin velo mishtakchin.
Rav Nosson Tzvi was survived by his mother and his children, including Rav Avrohom Yeshaya Finkel, Rav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel, Rav Shmaryahu Yosef Finkel, Rav Yitzchok Finkel and Rav Shmuel Finkel.
Yehi zichro boruch.