תורה תורה חגרי שק • עולם התורה באבל • Rav Moshe Wolfson zt”l

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It is with great sadness that Matzav.com reports the petirah of Rav Moshe Wolfson zt”l, mashgiach of Yeshiva Torah Vodaas in Kensington, Brooklyn, and rov of Bais Medrash Emunas Yisroel in Boro Park. He was 99.

Rav Wolfson collapsed and was taken to the hospital, where he passed away.

Rav Wolfson was a close talmid of Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz at Yeshiva Torah Vodaas.

He began his journey in the world of chinuch and harbotzas haTorah in 1943 with Aish Dos, the innovative program devised by Rav Mendlowitz to train mechanchim for yeshivos and day schools across America.

Rav Wolfson taught at Yeshiva Torah Vodaas for many years and was appointed as mashgiach ruchani of the yeshiva in the 1960s. The appointment was made by the then-rosh yeshiva, Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky.

Rav Wolfson was also the mara da’asra of Camp Torah Vodaas for many years. It was there, during the summer months, that he cultivated a devoted following of bnei Torah and bnei aliyah who later founded Beis Medrash Emunas Yisrael in Boro Park with Rav Wolfson as the mara d’asra. That shul became one of the most unique botei medrash in the world, with a davening that is unique in its pace and intensity. There is an unbridled passion and energy for tefillah and avodas Hashem that has become synonymous with the shul on 16th Avenue.

Many of his Rav Wolfson’s chiddushim and hashkafos are contained in various volumes, including Sefer Emunas Itecha, Wellsprings of Faith, Feast of Faith, The Core of Emunah​Sacred Soil, Service of the Heart – The Beauty and Essence of Tefillah, and Flames of Faith – An Introduction to Chassidic Thought. 

The levayah will take place at 8:45 a.m. Sunday morning in Shikun Skver. It will cotninue at 10:45 a.m. at Yeshiva Torah Vodaas, and then, at 11 a.m., at Bais Medrash Emunas Yisroel, located at 4310 16th Avenue in Brooklyn, NY. The aron will then be flown to Eretz Yisroel at 5 p.m. for kevurah in Teveria.

Yehi zichro boruch.

{Matzav.com}


24 COMMENTS

  1. He was a big Chusid of Chabad and the Lubavitch Rebbi. Gave shiurim in Tanya, visited the Rebbi, got dollars from him, etc.

    • He also spoke at Chabad-Lubavitch public events, e.g. on Lag Baomer in Boro Park at their gathering in the 18th avenue park, at their B.P. Yud Tes Kislev holiday celebrations for years, and at Lubavitcher events in Florida.

    • The approach of Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, ZT’L, was that we learn from each and every one of the Gedolay Torah in Klall Yisroel. His Talmid Muvak Rav Moshe, ZT’L, followed this dictum to the fullest; to him, the Satmer Rebbe, ZT’L, was just as valued as the Lubavitcher Rebbe, ZT’L, who was just as valued as Rav Shach, ZT’L, who was just as valued as the Steipler, ZT’L, who was just as valued as the Chazon Ish, ZT’L, who was just as valued as the Brisker Rav, ZT’L, who was just as valued as the Bobover Rebbe, ZT’L, who was just as valued as, Yibodel L’Chaim, the Square Rebbe, Sh’lita, and so on. He himself stated to me applying to them the phrase from T’filas Shacharis regading the various angels: “Kulam Ahuvim . . . . “

    • Therefore, he vehemently declared that the Machlokes that existed between Lubavitch and the Litvishe Yeshiva world WAS ABSOLUTELY NOT, Chas V’Shalom, that of “good guys” doing nice things vs “bad guys” doing wicked things. Rather, it was like the Machlokesim of Hillel & Shamai and Abbayei & Rava and all Machlokesim in Torah.

      Therefore, when I attended Beis Medrosh Gevoha in Lakewood, I purposely AND PROUDLY put on the wall of my apartment a photograph of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, ZT’L, and next to it, a photograph of Rav Shach, ZT’L. A few years later, I saw my action was vindicated when I was invited to a Shabbos Seuda in the home of one of the sons of a highly prominent family who had been major supporters of Beis Medrosh Gevoha and Ner Yisroel in Baltimore. (I had been at a Hachnosses Sefer Torah that they had donated to BMG and at Ner Yisroel’s dedication of its campus in their name.) On one of their furniture cabinets, they had a picture of Rav Shach, ZT”L, and a picture of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, ZT’L, right next to each other!

      • ” I saw my action was vindicated when I was invited to a Shabbos Seuda in the home of one of the sons of a highly prominent family who had been major supporters of Beis Medrosh Gevoha and Ner Yisroel in Baltimore.”

        Wealthy people may have a zechus for giving tzedakkah, if they do so, but they are not necessarily our rabbeim in hashkafas haTorah.

    • Recently, and Iranian Sephardi who lives in Yerushalaiyim told me that when he was once speaking with Rav Shach, ZT’L, he made a remark to him against the Lubavitcher Rebbe, ZT’L. Rav Shach SCOLDED HIM for doing that!! Rav Shach explained to him: “I have with him a Machlokes L’Sheim Shomaiyim,” but he is a big Talmid Chacham and it is Assur to denigrate him!!”

        • That is what Rav Shach, ZT’L, explained to my friend that, certainly yes, he most certainly did speak out very strongly K’Neged things of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, ZT’L, and that, that speaking out very strongly was a “Machlokes L’Sheim Shomaiyim.” But that “Machlokes L’Sheim Shomaiyim” DID NOT mean that the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Chas V’Shalom, was a wicked guy whom should be spit on, as Rav Shach also strongly clarified, that, on the contrary, he was a big Talmid Chacham whom it was Asssur to be Mevazeh.

  2. Rav Wolfson, zt’l, was my mashgiach in Torah Vodaas 60 years ago. I would meet with him regularly to discuss hashkafa. I was a project of his. One day, I told him I was an apikores. He laughed and said “You are not an apikores, you are an ignoramus. When you know כל התורה כולה and you still think the way you do now, then you will be an apikores.” What a brilliant response! He was a sweet, gentle and understanding Rebbe. יהי זכרו לברכה

  3. BORUCH DAIYAN HAEMES!!

    Like his many great-giants-of-Torah-Rabayim, ZT’L, at Torah Vodaas, (for example, one of the Maspeedim of Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky, ZT’L, exclaimed that not only did he learn areas of Torah that most people do not learn, he was A GAON in those areas of Torah that most people do not learn) Rav Moshe, ZT’L, well knew all areas of Torah, both Nigleh and Nister, delivering a Shiur in Tanya and very often incorporating various Sodos of Kabala into his lectures in ways that the listeners could understand and relate to them.

  4. He was such a unique tzadik, so in touch with his community and their needs, so innovative in bringing his community closer together. He made family members closer and warmer to each other, bringing people to such heights of real connection to the source of love. When he saw things cooling off in any part, he would think and come up with ideas to rekindle the fire. You could have melted from his humility. There’s so much to say and grieve about his loss, but he has built such a strong community with such strong foundations that will hopefully continue to live with his spirit until the day Moshiach brings us back together to our homeland with all its kedusha and love.

  5. The Mashgiach of Beis Medrosh Gevoha, Rav Nosson Wachtfogel, ZT’L, was well known that in his exceptional Tzipisa L’Yeshua – his exceptional anticipation of the coming redemption, he would excitedly jump at any occurrence that may possibly have indicated that Moshiach & the Geula were at hand. For example, if he heard someone who was merely practicing T’kias Shofar, he would excitedly wonder if this was the Shofar of the Geula.

    In his way of his exceptional Tzipisa L’Yeshua – his exceptional anticipation of the coming redemption, Rav Moshe, ZT’L, would often point out various current world events that could have been indications that Moshiach & the Geula were at hand and would further often exclaim how certain years were especially M’sugal to to be the years of Moshiach & the Geula.

  6. He also went a lot to Klausenberg the Divrei Yoel, Current Bobev 48, Current and previous Skver Rebbes he loved Isreal and in the same time supported NK Schools in Israel. HE WAS A MAN OF ALL WITH TRUE AHAVAS YISROEL TO EVERY YID.

  7. There most certainly needs to be some narration about his Shul, Emunas Yisroel. B’Ezras Hashem, please allow me to start the relation this way. Rav Avigdor Miller, ZT’L, relates about one year after Yom Kippur in the famed iconic Yeshiva in Slaboka, Lithuania. Now, we all well know, that even very many of our B’nei Yisroel brethren who are far from Torah know about Yom Kippur and that it is an extremely important holiday. And the not-according-to-Torah “temples” that they attend have for Yom Kippur not-according-to-Torah “services” that, according to their limited & distorted understandings, still do convey some concepts of the grave seriousness of the day.

    Certainly, the “temples” that ARE according to Torah, that DO have the “Orthodox” stamp on them, do have services that are-according-to-Torah that provide the correct framework for correctly conveying the grave seriousness of the day.

    Certainly, our Yeshivos HaK’doshos most certainly perform the according-to-Torah services with their full intensity so that their students fully feel and experience the grave seriousness of the day. And then certainly, certainly, is the Neila concluding service, which the students well know is the climax of the holy day. Before it starts, the Rosh Yeshiva addresses & exhorts them that this is the last chance that Hashem gives us to get down and beg Him to forgive us and grant us and the whole world a good year.

  8. The famed iconic Slaboka Yeshiva in Lithuania that Rav Miller refers to was where Gedolay Torah of the previous two generations, Rav Reuvein Grozovsky, ZT’L, Rav Aharon Kotler, ZT’L, Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky, ZT’L, Rav Yaakov Yitzchak Rudderman, ZT’L, and many others received their Chinuch. I elaborated on the long previous introduction in order that maybe we could begin to imagine how these great earlier Torah giants and their even greater senior mentors in the iconic Slaboka Yeshiva of that era celebrated Yom Kippur: The exalted intensity they had throughout its services and especially the exalted of exalted immensely intensive performance they experienced of Neila: of its many times crying & thundering “Keil Melech Yosheiv Al Kisay Rachamim!!” & The Shalosh Esrei Midos & the final “Avinu Malkeinu!!” & finally, the concluding “Sh’ma Yisroel!!”

    One of those years after one of those immensely emotionally powerful experiences of their Neila, one of the Yeshiva’s administrators strongly commended & congratulated them and stated that they had managed then to pray as good as a group of “regular” “plain” tailors of a few generations earlier had aways prayed EVERY MONDAY AND THURSDAY!!

  9. Boruch Hashem, our great Rebbe, Rav Moshe Wolfson, Zeicher Tzadik UL’Kodesh Livracha, certainly succeeded in building up a Shul, Emunas Yisroel, that aimed for the goal of “Machzir Ateret L’Yoshna” – to try to “Restore the Crown (of Prayer) to its Old Proper Place.”

    Understandably, it is difficult to say every Tefila slowly and with proper intensity. On Shabbosim and Yomim Tovim though, they gave a full hour to say the P’sukei D’Zimra introductory section of Shacharis, and many other parts of the Shabbos and Yom Tov Tefilos were most certainly Tsaid with immense intensity. Their Kabalos Shabbos at the opening of Shabbos on Friday evenings was an awesome experience; its intensified climax of the singing of the Piyut “L’cha Dodi” was literally way beyond description.

    For the singing of the Piyut, many have the Minhag to use one Niggun, usually a slow one, for the first five paragraphs and then a second Niggun, usually a more faster one, for the last four paragraphs. As very many Nigunim have three parts, there is a difficulty to apply a three part Niggun into a four stanza hymn. The Emunas Yisroel people though, employed a perfect solution: They sang through the first three (of the four) stanzas with all three parts of the Niggum. Then, at the fourth stanza — which is really the climax of the entire L’cha Dodi Piyut as it contains the crucial “Acceptance of Shabbos” — they would start the entire Niggun all over again from the beginning, singing it with just the Niggun without words. When they reached the third part of the Niggun, which was usually its climax, they would sing the third part with the words of the crucial fourth stanza climax.

    Needless to say, doing this dramatically amplified the intensity of their “L’cha Dodi,” literally making it way beyond description.

  10. The central theme of the Yom Tov of Rosh Hashanna is our obligation to fully realize that Hashem is King. This is conveyed in the wordings of many of the prayers said on that day and throughout the Aseres Y’mei T’shuva. Specifically, one of the key prayers of the day that especially & extensively conveys this is the Piyut “Melech Elyon” – the “Supreme King.”

    On one of the years when I was at Emunas Yisroel for Rosh Hashanna, one of the Ba’alei Tefilos — obviously in order to strongly convey the theme of Kingship especially conveyed in this Piyut — employed for the Piyut a Niggun which sounds very much like a somber but upbeat Eastern European style royal military march.

    To this day, close to forty years later, whenever I even just think of that royal-military-sounding Niggun and its association with its use then on that Rosh Hashanna for the Malcus conveying “Melech Elyon” Piyut, I still feel a tiny bit of that sense of Malchus Hashem that the Emunas Yisroel Beis Medrosh so pointedly projected.

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