Rav Shlomo Wahrman zt”l

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rav-wahrman-lest-we-forget[Audi below.] It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Rav Shlomo Wahrman zt”l of Queens, NY. Rav Wahrman was a well-respected talmid chochom and maggid shiur, a veteran mechanech, and the author of many well-received seforim. He was 86 years old.

Rav Shlomo Wahrman was born and grew up in Leipzig, Germany. In 1939, at the age of twelve, he and his Polish-born parents and his siblings received American visas and found peace and a life of relative safety away from the clutches of the Nazi regime.

In Lest We Forget: Growing up in Nazi Leipzig 1933-1939, published in 1991 by ArtScroll Mesorah Publications, Rav Wahrman shares an account of life in Leipzig in the 1930s, portraying the impact of Nazi policies on a thriving Jewish community that peaked at 18,000 in 1935 before declining to around 6,000 in1939, when Rav Wahrman left the city for New York.

Rav Wahrman’s story of the six years during which he lived under Nazi rule provides an honest account of the persecution suffered by average Jewish citizens on a day-to-day basis, intensifying in stages as the Nazis legislated and then consolidated. Rav Wahrman tells of the impact of different Nazi acts, such as the decision to forcibly expel Jews of Polish nationality from Germany in 1938. While in accord with our general knowledge of Nazi acts against Jews, Rav Wahrman reveals the fact that the Nazis took the decision when they did in response to a Polish law of March 1938, stripping expatriate Poles of their citizenship if they had lived outside Poland for more than five years. The Nazis saw the Polish law as aimed at Polish Jews abroad, and the Nazi expulsion of Jews was an attempt to repatriate them before the Polish law came into force. Another revealing fact mentioned by Rav Wahrman is that only the Polish Jews who held Polish nationality were expelled by the Nazis. Polish Jews like his parents who were statenlos
(‘stateless’) were not targeted.

Rav Wahrman’s story succeeds not only in relaying the nature of the Nazi regime – one which, while we need reminding of it, has nonetheless been told many times – but also frames it within the international context of general anti-Semitism, demonstrating the ugly side of Polish policy in the 1930s too, and within Nazi legalism, seeing Jews of Polish nationality expelled but Polish Jews without nationality being exempted. Furthermore, he portrays the struggle of the average Leipzig Jew, such as when 1300 Polish Jews were harbored in the Polish consulate in Leipzig, a building designed to house 30 or 40 consular officials, and those not threatened by expulsion, like him and his mother, spending all day preparing food and delivering it to the consulate. The expulsion of Polish Jews continued for a number of days in October 1938 until the Polish and German governments reached a compromise, and Polish citizens abroad were not automatically stripped of their nationality.

Rav Wahrman related that, as an eleven year old, he was excited by the Austro-German Anschluss, as the Austrian football team contained several of the best players in Europe, and he looked forward to seeing the German national team made up of the cream of the two countries’ talent. On the other hand, he also records his efforts to obtain players’ autographs following a match between Tura Leipzig and Dresden S. C. As he wore his Jewish school cap, most of the players ignored him, though the star turn, Helmut Schoen, showed friendliness and provided a few kind words and an autograph.

In summation, Rav Wahrman’s memoir puts flesh and blood onto the bones of Jewish experience during the Holocaust. He reveals how Jewish life in Leipzig went from a thriving community to daily irritation following the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, before the events of Kristallnacht
led Jews to see emigration as essential rather than simply being preferable to life under the Nazis.

Rav Wahrman concludes his book with powerful words: “All these events have delivered a powerful message to me. Any Jewish city anywhere could potentially suffer Leipzig’s fate, chas v’shalom. There is no safety and security for us in galus, even in a democracy. The German Weimar Republic was a democracy, yet it could not prevent the emergence of a Hitler. When the anti-Semites so decreed, Leipzig, a city of 18,000 Jews, became Judenrein.”

On these shores, Rav Wahrman lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he grew close to the legendary Rav Leizer Silver zt”l, who he considered his rebbi muvhak. Due to Rabbi Silver’s insistence and encouragement, Rabbi Wahrman honed his writing skills and recorded his copious chidushei Torah. He later moved east and became a well recognized mechanech, educator, advisor, talmid chochom and mechaber seforim. He served as rosh yeshiva of Hebrew Academy of Nassau County (HANC) and authored Sheairis Yosef and other seforim. The glowing approbations of the gedolei yisroelgracing these seforim attest to his premier standing in the ranks of talmidei chachamim. Yet, Rabbi Wahrman acted always with great humility, simplicity, and, with his signature smile and wit, made everyone feel comfortable in his presence.

The levaya is currently being held at Schwartz Brothers Jeffer Memorial Chapel, located at 114-03 Queens Blvd. in Forest Hills, NY.

Yehi zichro boruch.

CLICK here to listen to a shiur delivered by Rav Wahrman at HANC.

{Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. I was very close to him and so sad to hear he has passed BDE.

    He gave me once his set of sefarim to give as a gift to the Lubavitcher rebbe and when he received he immediately sent him a letter thanking him for the Sefarim. He wrote many times to the Rebbe in Learning and I was the SHliach to deliver the letters.

    May he be a Lailitz Yosher for the family and Klal Yisroel he was a great Talmid Chochim and Ohev Yisroel. BDE

  2. Rav Wahrman knew Kol Hatorah Kulah, simple and plain. He was from the greatest gedolim of the dor, yet he conducted himself with such normality and humor and simplicity, nobody would realize. It is a nes that someone can know Kol Hatorah Kula heven if he is learning 18 hours a day. But when he is teaching in a high school in themorning, and elementary in afternoon, and then in a Talmud Torah for public school kids and is busy 12 hours a day, it is a nes bsoch nes.

    His chiddushim are so deep and filled with such bkiyus, it is a peleh. At the end of his sefarim, he has inyanim ketzarim, where he often asks ishtemeetesei. In other words, a Rishon or Acharon might say a pshat in chumash, but Rav Wahrman will ask, that contradicts a mishna in keilim. he always held it was his own chisaron.

    He loved all Jews from all branches, and would quote any gadol of any hashkafah on any sugya. You could see his overwhelming ahavas yisroel, and the way he learned every sugya lamito with no negiyos whatsoever. He loved the medinah, but wrote he doesn’t recommend heter mechira, since our financial situation is better than at time of Rav Kook. No bias, just pure lomdus.

    All the kids loved his jokes. He would write with two hands on board. Totally ambidextrous. Was given a gift min hashamayim, that he never forgot anything he learned. This enabled his bekiyus, although he had so little time to chazer. Baki in Bavli, Yerushalmi, Rambam, Tur, Shulchan Aruch all the nosei keilim, Midrashim. He said he wanted to write in same style as Reb Menachem Ziemba. A gadol once read his sefer, and said, this reminds me of Reb Menachem Ziemba. He was so happy. Reb Shlomo Zalman Auerbach wrote in his haskama that his sefer was his oneg shabbos.

    He always worked for shalom bayis, and if a child’s parents wanted him to go to college, he would tell him to go, even if child wanted to learn. When we came over for a mesibah, he would tell jokes and hilarious maaselach for hours. The most normal gadol one will ever meet. If there were more like him, there would be no more machlokes in the klal. May we all benefit from his mesikus hatorah and his amkus. Learning any of his pieces even if you don’t know the sugya is so geshmak. And when you finish, you think you understand perfectly because his hasbara is so clear. You could speak to him and he could pasken on any sugya in the middle of the night. May we all grow from his chiddushim and derech eretz. What a zechus we had.

  3. For many years during the time when Rav Wahrman, Z”KL taught at the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County (HANC), I was zocher to serve HANC as a member of the Board of Directors and then as Executive Vice President and finally, as Chairman of the Board. In those lay leadership positions, I was in the school frequently to be a hands on observer and to discharge my responsibilities. When I saw Rav Wahrman, he never failed to greet me warmly, and often invited me to sit in on his shiur and when I did, he had the class stand up in my honor, although I had done nothing to merit such a kibud. He served as the posek for HANC, when any halachic issues arose, and there were many cases that we needed his imput. There was never a time when what he decided was in any way not accepted by any Rav of any community where HANC students were involved. His warmth and brilliance existed, side by side, without any apparent effort and he made you feel comfortable in his presence, even if you were not up to his level and no one I know reached his level. Decades of students at HANC benefitted and there are Roshei Yeshivot and Torah scholars today in Israel and in the US, who will tell anyone who asks that Rav Warhman was the major influence on their lives and Torah learning. YZB


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