Rav Elazar Kenig zt”l of Tzefas

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It is with great sadness that Matzav.com reports the passing of Rav Elazar Mordechai Koenig zt”l, rov of the Breslover community in Tzefas, Israel. He was 73.

Born in 1945 in Yerushalayim, Rav Elazar was a son of Rav Gedalya Aharon and Esther Yehudit Koenig. Rav Gedalya Aharon was a leading talmid of the Breslover mashpiah Rav Avrohom Sternhartz, who immigrated to Yerushalayim from Uman, Ukraine in 1936.

When Rav Gedalya Aharon arrived in Tzefas over four decades ago, the city was a spiritual desert, a barren wasteland, with no more than a couple of hundred chareidi inhabitants. Witnessing the thriving contemporary community of Tzefas, this is almost hard to fathom. But at that time, in the late ’60 and ‘70s, Rav Gedalya took on the daunting mission of changing the status quo, and transforming the city of Tzefas into a flourishing frum community.

During the early years, the situation was quite difficult for the small number of frum Yidden who had chosen to settle in Tzefas. Other than a small kollel under the direction of Rav Shmuel Avigdor Feivelson, there was little spirituality to be found in this holy city. Even kosher food was hard to come by. A once-a-week food delivery from Yerushalayim or elsewhere in Eretz Yisroel had to suffice.

With tremendous mesiras nefesh, astounding patience and remarkable perseverance, Rav Gedalya went about establishing a kehilla, as well as the Breslover Talmud Torah for boys, a Bais Yaakov for girls, and a kollel.

Rav Gedalya passed away in 1980, but he had forever changed the Old City of Tzefas.

Rav Gedalya’s son, Rav Elazar Mordechai, stepped in to continue and build on his illustrious father’s legacy. As rov of the Breslover kehilla in Tzefas, Rav Elazar used his abilities for kiruv, for the spreading of Yahadus, and for expanding the already existing mekomos haTorah v’hachinuch.

The metamorphosis of Tzefas was a vision of Rav Gedalya Kenig, who utilized every possible avenue to bring that dream to reality. Rav Elazar built on that reality with incredible hatzlacha.

Rav Elazar, in his younger years, learned at Yeshivas Mir Yerushalayim. He studied Kabbolah with his father, as well as with several leading Sephardic masters, including Rav Mordechai Sharabi.

Rav Elazar led the Tzefas community as well as its umbrella organization, Nachal Novea Mekor Chokhma Institutions. These include the Kiryat Breslov housing complex, a kollel, Yeshiva ketana, Talmud Torah Magen Avos, Ganei and Derech Yehudit Education Center for Girls, a daycare center for working mothers, Lilmod U’lamed Special Education School, the Trisk Shul in Tzefas’ Old City, and a five-story Torah Center.

Rav Elazar’s advice and brachos were sought by people around the world. He was a boki b’Shas, an outstanding talmid chochom with knowledge in all facets of Torah, and a great tzaddik.

In recent years, Rav Kenig became quite ill, necessitating a lung transplant. With incredible siyata diShmaya, Rav Kenig endured the difficult ordeal, miraculously recovering from the desperately needed lung transplant performed in January 2005 at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan. In fact, in response to a question about whether we merit to witness nissim gluyim in our times, Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman pointed to Rav Kenig’s recovery from his illness as a manifestation of an open miracle in our time.

The levayah will be held at Rav Elazar’s home on Rechov Chassam Sofer Street in Tzefas and then continue at the Trisk Shul. After stopping at the Breslover Bais Medrash, kevurah will take place at the Tzefas Bais Hachaim.

Yehi zichro boruch.

{Matzav.com Israel News Bureau}


  1. Zechuso yagein aleinu. Say what you will, but the mainstream Breslovers seem to produce real tzaddikim of old – no fanfare, just the real deal. (R’ Yaakov Meir Shechter, the Cheshin family, Rav Shmuel Shapiro ztl, Rav Levi Yitzchak Bender ztl, Rav Kenig etc etc). They are both tremendous talmidei chachamim as well as awesome tzaddikim (k’yadua breslovers are extremely focused on shemiras hakedusha). They all seem to have a certain lofty grace, a special hadras panim, true anivus, an other-worldy yishuv hada’as…. I wonder why that is! Maybe there is something there after all….?


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