It is with great sadness that Matzav.com reports the passing of Rebbetzin Shoshana Raizel Privalsky a”h. She was 90.
Rebbetzin Privalsky passed away at Maayanei Hayeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak.
The Rebbetzin was a daughter of Rabbi Yehoshua Berkman, a shochet in Telz, Lithuania.
The Rebbetzin’s husband, Rav Zelig Privalsky,was known for his educational work within the Zeirei Agudas Yisroel movement and in the chareidi educational system, to which he devoted himself, heart and soul. He became close to Rav Shlomo Lorincz, who would often meet him at the home of the Brisker Rov zt”l, who he would consult about every step that he took in life. Rav Lorincz once remarked, “The Rov befriended him because he knew that he accepted the advice he gave and that his motivation was one hundred percent pure.
During the fateful years of the Second World War and the pre-State period immediately afterwards, Rav Zelig was renowned as one of the foremost pioneers of Torah and chareidi education in Eretz Yisroel, as he had been known in Europe for a decade beforehand. He left a major imprint on the foundations that were then being laid for the chareidi community that would soon grow in Eretz Yisroel under the new conditions that were unfolding. He belonged to a cadre of Bnei Torah who first devoted years to learning Torah in yeshivos and kollelim and then became involved in Torah education.
Rav Zelig arrived in Eretz Yisroel as a twenty-year-old bochur, after having been saved himself from the European inferno. He was a native of Grodno, in Lithuanian Poland, where he had learned, first in cheder, then in mechinah and then in the renowned Yeshivas Shaar Hatorah led by the gaon Rav Shimon Shkop zt”l, whose talmid he became. As an outstanding young Ben Torah, his leanings toward communal involvement were already apparent in his chairmanship of the local Pirchei Agudas Yisroel. His wandering began when he was only eighteen, with the outbreak of the war. Reb Zelig was one of the thousands of Bnei Torah who flocked to Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky zt”l in Vilna in the war’s first months.
Thanks to the recommendation of Rav Yosef Shub zt”l Hy”d, the capable secretary of the Vaad Hayeshivos, who achieved great things under Rav Chaim Ozer’s stewardship, Reb Zelig received one of the only five certificates for aliyah to Eretz Yisroel that had been allotted to Agudas Yisroel. This saved him from Europe, though his wartime journey to Eretz Yisroel via Russia and Turkey was far from smooth.
Arriving in Eretz Yisroel, he returned to yeshiva, joining the Lomzhe Yeshiva in Petach Tikva where he applied himself to intensive learning. Shortly afterwards, he was among the seven talmidim with whom the Ponovezher Rov opened his new yeshiva in Bnei Brak. In later life, Reb Zelig would often speak about the powerful impressions his spiritual mentors had made upon him, amongst whom were Rav Nochum Abba Grosbard zt”l, mashgiach in Lomzhe and Ponevezh, and Rav Eliyohu Dessler zt”l and Rav Chatzkel Levenstein zt”l, mashgichim in Ponevezh.
After his marriage to Rebbetzin Privalsky, who came from a rabbinical family from Telz, he continued learning in Kollel Chazon Ish. At this time, he grew very close to the Chazon Ish, becoming greatly influenced by his approach to learning and by many of his other ideas.
At the same time, he also took an interest in the needs of the chareidi community, heightening his awareness of its problems and needs. He found broad scope for Torah and educational work in this area, working within the Zeirei Agudas Yisroel movement, among whose founders and policy shapers he is numbered. He engaged in this work together with several other talmidei chachomim, under the close guidance of the Chazon Ish.
Rav Zelig and the Rebbetzin took up a challenge in Sao Paolo, Brazil, traveling there to set chareidi education on its feet. Rav Zelig and his team embarked on a thorough reorganization of the place, which was henceforth known as Mercaz Hachinuch Hachareidi. They restructured the institution and divided it into several departments. Within a short time, the Jewish community of Sao Paolo felt that there had been a tremendous spiritual turnabout.
One of many respects in which the Rebbetzin and Rav Zelig excelled was their tzedaka and their kindness and hospitality towards others. Following their marriage, they occupied a one-and-a-half room apartment, with wooden crates serving as their furniture, but they still hosted guests to the best of their ability.
This practice continued even when their children were born. The place was never too small for a guest. The children would sleep on the floor temporarily, so that there would be enough beds for the visitors. Their home was always a haven where troubled souls could find help and advice. It was the address from which fundraising drives for all manner of public needs, for support of yeshivos and kollelim and for other worthy causes were organized. More than a few chassanim left for their chuppos from the Privalsky home and many more individuals who frequented their house felt themselves akin to family.
Privacy was the Rebbetzin’s watchword in the assistance that she and her husband extended to others. Nobody knew to whom they had lent money or for whom they had acted as guarantor. On those occasions when a borrower came to him to apologize for tardiness in repaying a loan, Rav Zelig would simply respond, “It’s quite okay. I’ll let you know when I need it!”
Rav Zelig passed away in the prime of his life following a serious illness, on the twenty-first of Av 5738 (1978), when he was just fifty-two years old.
The Rebbetzin carried on with amazing grace for the last 40 years since her husband’s petirah. She had remarkable simchas hachaim and throughout her life always had a kind word for one and all.
She leaves behind generations of bnei and bnos Torah. Her children include her sons, Rav Yehoshua of Lakewood, NJ, and Rav Yechezkel of Brooklyn, NY, and her daughters, Mrs. Weingarten of London and Mrs. Feiner of Bnei Brak.
The levaya will be held at 3 p.m. at 18 Rechov Gordon in Bnei Brak, followed by kevurah at the Ponovezher Bais Hachaim.
Yehi zichroh boruch.