תורה תורה חגרי שק • עולם התורה באבל: Rav Michel Yehudah Lefkowitz zt”l

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michel-yehudah-lefkowitz-11[Our apologies for the temporary downage of Matzav.com following the petirah due to the heavy volume of visitors.] The Olam Hatorah has been plunged into mourning with the passing of Rav Michel Yehudah Lefkowitz, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Ponovezh L’tzeirim and one of the senior gedolei Torah in Eretz Yisroel, at the age of 97.

Yidden around the globe had been davening since Rav Michel Yehudah collapsed late on Shabbos. Rav Lefkowitz was taken to Shaarei Tzedek Medical Center in critical condition. He was niftar this afternoon in Yerushalayim.

Two summers ago, Rav Lefkowitz stopped giving shiurim at Yeshivas Ponovezh L’Tzeirim after 50 years of doing so.

Over the course of 5 decades, hundreds of talmidim passed through the doors of Yeshivas Ponovezh L’Tzeirim and learned under Rav Lefkowitz. Among the alumni of the yeshiva are roshei yeshivos and rabbonim who gained immeasurably from Rav Michel Yehudah, his shiurim, and his erudition. Together with Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman, who used to be part of the faculty, Rav Michel Yehudah taught and guided countless bnei Torah, infusing them with a love of Torah and  avodas Hashem, and enlightening them with his insightful and penetrating shiurim.

Rav Michel Yehudah, a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of Degel HaTorah, is a talmid of the Chazon Ish and one of the most prominent talmidim of Rav Shlomo Heiman. In fact, it was Rav Michel Yehudah who released the two-volume Chiddushei Rav Shlomo, the Torah of his rebbi, Rav Shlomo Heiman.

The following is one of many inspiring stories that depict what a treasure our generation had in Rav Lefkowitz:

As the nosi of Acheinu, Rav Lefkowitz always made himself available to offer daas Torah for the kiruv queries asked of him.

Yaakov, a bochur from an irreligious, somewhat traditional family, was a boy with exemplary middos and yiras Shomayim. Unfortunately, he was academically very weak and learning was difficult.

His avreich, Betzalel, wanting to be mechazek him, took him to visit Rav Lefkowitz. Yaakov told Rav Michel Yehudah about his difficulty learning, “I try, but I simply can’t understand,” he said.

Rav Michel Yehudah asked him his father’s occupation.

“He is a carpenter.”

“Is he shomer Torah umitzvos?”

“Not really.”

“Are any siblings in yeshiva?”


“Are your sisters in frum schools?”


Rav Michel Yehudah then asked, “Do you know what kind of responsibility rests on your shoulders? You are only one! You must carry the entire family.”

Yaakov replied brokenheartedly, “But I just can’t learn! I try, but it is so very hard!”

The nonagenarian Rav Michel Yehudah became very emotional and began to cry. Seeing the tears coursing down the rosh yeshiva‘s face, Yaakov also began to cry. Rav Michel Yehudah finally composed himself and lovingly told Yaakov, “I want to tell you something. I am rosh yeshiva of Ponovezh Yeshiva Ketana for many decades. In all my years, experience has shown me that it is not the brilliant boys who succeed. it is the masmidim who keep at it who succeed. My advice is that you learn during theyeshiva‘s sedarim. Don’t learn late at night and don’t skip meals. Sleep during sleeping times, eat during eating times and learn during learning times. Just keep at it and you will see that the gates of learning will suddenly open and you will understand. You will see such success, such great light, that you will forget the darkness which currently clouds your existence.”

Rav Michel Yehudah concluded, “Anytime it is hard for you and you feel discouraged, please come back to me and we will talk. I am always here, available and wanting to speak to you.”

Click below for a video of Rav Michel Yehudah being visited by a group of English-speaking students:

[media id=1169 width=400 height=300]

{Yair Alpert-Matzav.com Israel/Shmiel Gellman-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Who is the true leader? The man who cares. The man who feels a responsibility for others. The one who sits huddled in a humble apartment away from the shackles of power, out of the spotlight. The person who is suffused with Torah. The person who has dedicated his life to being an eved Hashem and bows to no one but those who follow the true path.

    A person like the 97-year-old Rav Michel Yehudah Lefkowitz, who sits in a small dirah in Bnei Brak. As he approaches the age of 100, he is weak and finds it difficult to move about. A grandson who stays with him and his elderly wife, tends to their needs.

    My friend, Rav Eliezer Sorotzkin, related to me that three weeks ago Rav Michel Yehudah awoke in middle of the night and saw that his wife was not in her bed. He got out of bed and walked out of the bedroom into the hallway. There he saw his wife sprawled on the floor.

    The grandson who stays with them was roused by his grandfather’s footsteps and came to the hallway. Groggy and disoriented, he watched as Rav Michel Yehudah ran to his room to get a pillow to put under his wife’s head.

    The grandson rushed over to him and said, “Sabbah, mah atah oseh? What are you doing?” Rav Michel Yehudah responded that the floor is hard and cold, that he went to get a pillow so his wife would be more comfortable…”Kar lah. Ratziti lehakeil aleha.”

    He didn’t scream for his grandson, he didn’t shout to call Hatzollah, he didn’t bend down to ask his wife what happened. His first thought was to ease her pain. And to accomplish that, he ignored his frailty and mustered all his strength to be of assistance to her.

    At almost 100 years old, Rav Michel Yehudah is teaching us about shalom bayis, and about caring for others. This is a true leader. He feels the pain of others and does everything he can to lessen it. A leader of this caliber labors far from the seat of power; he dwells instead amongst his brethren, caring for them as a shepherd tends to his flock.


  2. He was a real tzaddik I would love to hear specific encounters and stories about him. He definitely was one of our 36 tzaddikim oiy lanu!!!!

  3. a certain magazine had an article on the six oldest gedolim less then a month ago. Two have since been niftar and Rav Elyashiv had surgery. Perhaps in the future articles should not be written about Gedolim near 100. It may be Ayin Harah.

  4. In todays times, where we are seemingly less machsiv what our rabonim and gedoilei roshei hayishiva are telling us. On this occasion of the passing of one of our leaders I feel it is a time for us to reflect and perhaps be “re-michazaik” ourselves in our emunas chachomim, even when our “daas” doesn’t feel like it is the right thing (for what ever reason). Let us daven that the rosh hayeshiva will be a mailitz yoisher for us and all of klal yisroel.

  5. A Boki Bashas – Talmid Chochom muflag, Mamshich Darko of Rav Shlomo Heiman, der rebbe,Oy Mi Yitein Lonu Temuroso

  6. A magazine ran a somewhat meaningless article two months ago on ” our oldest gedoilim”, and you know what? two of those featured gedoilim were none other than rav kopelman zt”l, and rav lefkowitz zt””l. is this a strange coincidence?is this directly related? we don’t know, and we probably never will. but we do know one thing. there is no reason for an article like that to be published. all it does is cast an ayin harah on our precious elderly leaders. who will be next? “v’atah hashem ad massai”?? Editors of the magazine, you need to do alot of thinking about the quality and meaning of your future articles, and klal yisrael, we need to daven stronger because it is soley our tefillos which protect our precious gems, our gedolei yisroel. baruch dayan haemes.

  7. He welcomed people with a hadras panim and a love that was felt immediately. When one interacted with him, he immediately knew where the person was coming from. His sense of hakaras ha’tov with regard to even the slightest of favors was also profound. Everyone and anyone felt welcomed by him.

  8. Our son, family and I will never forget the time the Rosh HaYeshiva Z’L gave us during his busy schedule last Chanukah. After he completed writing the last words of a Sefer Torah for a local Yeshiva with us looking on, we were zoche to time and Berachos from the Rosh HaYeshiva. The care and patience the Rosh HaYeshiva showed, though there was a language barrier, was something we can never forget….
    yhe zichro baruch……..

  9. During the last Syium HaShas I was part of Dirshu Chizuk mission among the Gedolim we visited was Rav Michael Yehudah he spoke to us encouraged our chazora and gave each of us a bracha. One could feel the Rav was a true Mechanech through and through he will be missed.

  10. Rav Elyasuv Shlita (being to weak to attend Levaya in Bnei Brak Tuesday), went to Hospital where R’ M.Y. was niftar and was melaveh the niftar out of the hospital on his way to Bnei Brak where he will be buried tomorrow.

  11. Rav Lefkowitz, ztl.

    Please storm the heavens for all of klal yisroel.

    The jewish people need parnassa, refuas, shidduchim, success with child raising , and so much more.

    Your smile lifted up thousands of people who came to see you.

    We are lost without gedolim.

    I have tears running down as I write this.


  12. I was zocheh to spend a few minutes with the niftar zt”l about 16 mo. ago and receive his brachos for a chinuch project. The warmth i felt was unusual. It was kedai to make the trip to E”Y for those few minutes. Mi Yitain lanu timuroso, yehi zichro boruch.

  13. We were just in touch with eretz yisroel and the levaya will be starting at 11:00am in yeshiva there. Which means the hook up here will be at 4am

  14. Baruch Dayan Haemet May it be a kaparah for ami yisrael and that all ami yisrael should live a happy and healthy 120 yeras of life full of torah and mitzvot

  15. #51- why is that? mayb u shud liv up to ur “name” and actually use some sechel. ther IS a powerful force named the ayin harah and we all know it. That article duz fall under that catergory, and you wanna hear smoething incredible? yet another one of those gedoilim featured was RAV CHAIM STIEN, who is now rachmana litzlan in critical condition! so mayb U seek consultation, consultation with your tehillim that is, bcuz im sure you will do alot more help that way than by posting stupid comments at a time like this.


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