Rav Zev Moreinu zt”l, Two Weeks Since His Passing


candle-small5On Shabbos Zachor, erev Purim, the former chief rabbi of Lodz passed away at the age of 96 in Boro Park. Rabbi Zev Moreinu, zt”l, was born in Warsaw on the 26th of Adar, 1915. His father, Pinchas Moreinu, a”h, owned and operated a huge chocolate factory. When Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman, zt”l Hy”d (1874-1941), Rosh Yeshiva Baranovich, would visit Warsaw, he was hosted at the Moreinu home.

The name Moreinu was earned by the family 17 generations back when an ancestor was ordained by the Vaad Arba Artzos (Council of Four Lands, which was the central body of Jewish authority in Poland from 1580 to 1764), which included such luminaries as Rabbi Shmuel Eidlis, zt”l (1555-1631) author of Maharsha, and Rabbi Meir Lublin, zt”l (1558-1616), author of Maharam Lublin. Rabbi Zev Moreinu’s great-grandfather was Rabbi Dovid Moreinu, zt”l, son-in-law of Rabbi Yisroel Lipin, zt”l (1809-1883), father of the Mussar movement and known as Rabbi Yisroel Salanter.

Rabbi Moreinu studied at the yeshivas of Baranovich and Kamanetz. He was ordained by Rabbi Boruch Ber Leibowitz, zt”l (1864-1939), renowned Rosh Yeshiva Kamanetz and author of Birkas Shmuel; Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Meir Kanol, zt”l Hy”d (d. 1943), Blashker Rav; Rabbi Shlomo Dovid Kahane, zt”l (1869-1953), leading rav in Warsaw and later in Jerusalem; and Rabbi Yechezkel Michaelson, zt”l, Plonsker Rav.

Each Gerer shtiebel in pre-World War II Warsaw was an oasis of Torah study. Upon ordination Rabbi Moreinu was appointed to give shiurim in a Gerer shtiebel. When Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman visited their home, Rabbi Moreinu’s father inquired whether his son should learn foreign languages. Rabbi Wasserman indicated that ordinarily he was against it but in the instance of Rabbi Moreinu, he would allow it.

Knowing foreign languages saved Rabbi Moreinu’s life during the Holocaust. While in a concentration camp, the Nazi commander ordered him to work on Shabbos. Refusing, Rabbi Moreinu was given a severe punishment. Knowing French, he was able to smuggle himself into a group of French prisoners of war, obtain French military uniform items, and thus survive. When World War II ended, Rabbi Moreinu returned to Poland, seeking to fortify Yiddishkeit in the land in which Jews lived for more than one thousand years. He arrived in Lodz still wearing a prisoner uniform and functioned as Rav of Lodz.

When his friends and neighbors left Poland, Rabbi Moreinu stayed behind to serve those Jews who remained. He led the chassidishe yeshiva there. In 1956 he married his Rebbetzin, a daughter of a Gerer chassid. Shortly thereafter, Rabbi Moreinu left for Israel where he stayed for two years, spending much of his time with Rabbi Yisroel Alter, zt”l (1895-1977), fourth Gerer Rebbe and author of Beis Yisroel. Returning to Lodz, Rabbi Moreinu assumed all rabbinical functions throughout Poland. He was especially active in freeing agunos. Whenever Rebbetzin Alta Feiga Teitelbaum, a”h (1912-2001), Satmar Rebbetzin, would visit her parents’ graves, she would stay at the home of Rabbi Moreinu, who was instrumental in enabling her to visit kivrei tzaddikim in Communist Poland.

In the 1970s, the communist authorities in Poland persecuted Rabbi Moreinu, attempting to prevent him from functioning as a religious leader. When he was imprisoned, Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum, zt”l (1886-1979), Satmar Rebbe and author of Divrei Yoel, arranged for high government officials to be bribed for the release of Rabbi Moreinu. When he arrived in America, the Satmar Rebbe wanted to purchase a three-floor building for Rabbi Moreinu. One floor would serve as a residence, the second would generate rental income, and the third would serve as a beis medrash. Rabbi Moreinu demurred, not wishing to benefit from Torah functions.

Settling in Boro Park, Rabbi Moreinu graced the Gerer shtiebel. He launched several campaigns to strengthen Yiddishkeit. He railed against funeral homes profiting from the burial of foreigners in Israel, a form of meis mitzvah from which one is prohibited to benefit. When a female Reform rabbi in Stamford, Connecticut, booked the Remah Shul in Krakow for a bar mitzvah ceremony and celebration, Rabbi Moreinu thundered against it, calling it an outrageous desecration. He declined obtaining American citizenship because the document had a Christian date on it. He continued to vigorously oversee and protect Jewish religious properties in Poland until the end of his life.

He was eulogized in Boro Park on Purim and in Jerusalem on Shushan Purim and was interred on Har Hazeisim. He is survived by his Rebbetzin and a daughter, Rebbetzin to Rabbi Shaul Dov Wallach, kashrus authority, and a daughter, Rebbetzin to Rabbi Dovid Posner, Rosh Yeshiva Maaleh in southern Israel.

Rabbi Moreinu was an exceptional and historic Torah personality. We are blessed in remembering his life work.

{Machberes-Rabbi G Tannenbaum/Matzav.com}


  1. Thank you, Matzav, for your article about Rabbi Moreinui zt”l. While the article mentions some aspects of his Mesiras Nefesh for the derech Hatorah, I think it is important to talk about his Gaonus as well.

    He was a baki bechal chadrei Hatorah, and a posek of the highest caliber, in a league with the greatest poiskim of the previous era.

    He was a tzanua, and engrossed in the daled amos shel halacha, so very few even knew he existed.

    May he be a mailitz yoisher for all of Klal Yisroe-l and may he be poiel in shomayim yehuasan shel Yisrae-l b’korov.

  2. I remember when the family came to America and the two daughters joined Bais Yaakov High School in Williamsburg. It amazed all of us. They were so learned and tzniusdig as if they just came out of prewar Polish Shtetel. Our Rebetzin’s just adored them and even they were in awe.