[Watch the levayah LIVE HERE.] It is with great sadness that Matzav.com reports the petirah of Rav Yitzchok Scheiner, rosh yeshiva of the Kamenitz Yeshiva, a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of Degel Hatorah, and one of the preeminent roshei yeshivos in Eretz Yisroel. His petirah comes on the heels of the petirah earlier today of Rav Meshulam Dovid Soloveitchik zt”l, Rosh Yeshivas Brisk.
Rav Scheiner was 98 and had battled Covid-19, among other medical challenges. Rav Scheiner had contracted the virus after he received his first dose of the vaccination. After his condition deteriorated this morning, he was taken to the hospital, where he was niftar.
The rosh yeshiva resided in the Kerem Avraham neighborhood in Yerushalayim, in a humble home surrounded on every side by seforim – volumes of every color and size, old and new alike, along with rows of binders in which the rosh yeshiva’s chiddushim were neatly filed away.
Rav Scheiner was born on November 5, 1922, in the United States. His parents, R’ Dov and Perl Scheiner, had immigrated to America from Poland. At that time, the situation in Europe was very difficult. The First World War had just ended. Tens of millions of people died during that war, including millions of Jews. That was why the rosh yeshiva’s parents chose to leave Galicia. His parents had lived in grinding poverty in Galicia. The poverty in his parents’ home was so acute that his father’s sister died of starvation as an infant. “My father was holding his sister in his arms when she took her last breath and died of hunger,” Rav Scheiner once related. His father had another sister who lived in Pittsburgh, and she ultimately persuaded his parents to come to America, where they could find, in her words, “a little bit of parnassah.” Rav Scheiner’s grandparents were deeply concerned. “Who knows if it’s even possible to remain Jewish in America?” his grandfather asked them. His father replied, “I promise you that we will remain Jewish and shomer mitzvos.” Throughout their lives, Rav Scheiner said, his parents kept their promise, and his mother spent her entire life working to strengthen Yiddishkeit and religious observance in America.
Rav Scheiner lived with his parents in Pittsburgh, where there was no appreciation for Torah at the time. He learned bechavrusah with his brother, who was the source of all of his Torah knowledge. Once, a representative of Yeshiva University came to Pittsburgh to raise money for the institution and stayed at the home of the Scheiner family, the only Torah family in the community. After being exposed to the young Yitzchok Scheiner and taking note of his exceptional intelligence, the fundraiser suggested that his parents send him to yeshiva in New York. The elder Scheiners had never even known that there was a yeshiva in America, and it was a great sacrifice to send such a young boy to learn in such a remote city. But the young Rav Scheiner and his parents decided together that it would be appropriate to make any sacrifice for the sake of Torah learning, so he traveled to New York to enroll in Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yitzchok Elchonon. The studies there were exceedingly arduous and draining for the bochurim, and Rav Scheiner became severely weakened, to the point that his doctors advised him to go away to a camp in order to recuperate. Hashgachah saw to it that Torah Vodaas had a camp in session just then, and Rav Scheiner went there. At Torah Vodaas, he was extraordinarily influenced by Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, the pioneer of Torah in America.
As a talmid in Torah Vodaas, Rav Scheiner learned with both of its roshei yeshiva, Rav Heiman and Rav Reuven Grozovsky, each in his own time. He was a chavrusah of one, while he learned with the other to prepare his shiur klali. It was said that the rosh yeshiva of Torah Vodaas would never include any line of reasoning in his shiur klali that had not met with the enthusiastic approval of his talmid, Yitzchok Scheiner.
Toward the end of the 1940s, he married his rebbetzin, a granddaughter of Rav Boruch Ber Leibowitz, Rosh Yeshivas Kaminetz. The shadchan was Rav Reuven Grozovsky.
Rav Reuven ultimately sent Rav Scheiner to learn in Eretz Yisroel at the Yeshiva of Chevron. Rav Scheiner’s roommate in Chevron was Rav Boruch Mordechai Ezrachi, who is today the rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Ateres Yisroel. Rav Boruch Mordechai later related, “It was Rav Yitzchok Scheiner who brought the ‘Torah’ of Rav Shlomo Heiman to the Yeshiva of Chevron. Before him, we had barely even heard of Rav Shlomo. He taught us the chiddushim of Rav Shlomo until the other bochurim were caught up in his own enthusiasm.” Rav Scehiner was close with the three Chevroner roshei yeshiva: Rav Yechezkel Sarna, Rav Moshe Chevroni and Rav Aharon Cohen.
During the 1960s, Rav Scheiner taught at the yeshiva in Montreux, Switzerland, and after the petirah of his father-in-law, Rav Moshe Berenstein, who was the rosh yeshiva of the Kamenitz yeshiva in Yerushalayim, Rav Scheiner became rosh yeshiva alongside his brother-in-law, Rav Osher Lichtenstein.
In the 1990s, he became a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of Degel HaTorah. His rebbetzin, Rebbetzin Esther Leah Scheiner, passed away in 2007. Rebbetzin Scheiner was born in the city of Vilna in 1925 to her parents, Rav Moshe and Rebbetzin Nechama Liba Bernstein zt”l. Rebbetzin Bernstein was a daughter of Rav Boruch Ber Leibowitz, the Kamenitzer rosh yeshiva. When she was still a little girl, Rebbetzin Scheiner’s parents moved to Kamenitz together with Rav Boruch Ber and his yeshiva. The Bernsteins lived together with Rav Boruch Ber in one house. The Rebbetzin would recount in later years how she would seat on the lap of her venerated grandfather, and he would tell her in a unique niggun and with tremendous love, “Esther Leahke, zolst zein a tzadeikus (you should be a tzadeikes).” During these years, she would watch from afar as her grandfather delivered shiurim in the house and as he spoke in learning with the bochurim of the yeshiva. She would often tell her family that she remembers Rav Boruch Ber telling bochurim with whom he would talk in learning, “Du retzed vi a fidleh” (Your words are like a fiddle). In 1940, when all the yeshivos in Vilna escaped due to the war, her family remained together with Rav Boruch Ber and the talmidim of the yeshiva in Vilna. In Kislev of that year, Rav Boruch Ber was niftar and the Bernstein family moved to Eretz Yisroel. There, Rav Bernstein reestablished the Kamenitzer Yeshiva in Yerushalayim.
In 1949, Rav Scheiner married the rebbetzin. Rav Yitzchok and the Rebbetzin settled in Bnei Brak, living in close proximity to the Chazon Ish and the Steipler Gaon zt”l. They then moved to Yerushalayim to assist in the harbotzas Torah of the Kamenitzer Yeshiva.
In 1954, Rebbetzin Scheiner’s father fell ill and traveled to Switzerland to receive medical attention. A short time later, Rav and Rebbetzin Scheiner traveled with her family to tend to her ailing father.
During that time, Rav Moshe Bachko asked Rebbetzin Scheiner to come and be marbitz Torah at Yeshiva Eitz Chaim in Montreux, Switzerland. In 1956, Rav Bernstein passed away. Several years later, Rav Yitzchok and the Rebbetzin moved back to Eretz Yisroel and to the Kamenitzer Yeshiva in Yerushalayim.
Watch the levayah LIVE HERE.
Yehi zichro boruch.