Today is the yahrtzeit of one of the leading poskim of the previous generation, Rav Tuvia Goldstein zt”l, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Emek Halocho in New York City and an important conveyor of the teachings of gedolei hador from the previous dor, who passed away at the age of 86.
R’ Tuvia Goldstein was born in the town of Waldwa, Poland in 5677 (1917) to HaRav Chaim Meir. His father passed away when Tuvia was still a young boy and he went to live with his grandfather, HaRav Yonah Yehoshua Goldstein zt’l. His grandfather on his mother’s side was HaRav Dovid Lieberman zt’l, the rov of the city of Chelm. Waldwa had been the home of the Bach hundreds of years earlier, and several decades ago the original manuscript of Hagohos HaBach on the Shas was found there.
In his youth he began his studies in the glorious yeshivas of Europe, learning under HaRav Boruch Ber zt’l in Kamenitz and HaRav Elchonon Wassermann Hy’d in Baranovitch. He was even a member of the Wassermann household for an extended period. His clear thinking and profound sevoros set him apart from the other talmidim. At Baranovitch he studied in a chaburah with HaRav Nochum Partzovitch zt’l, rosh yeshivas Mir, and HaRav Shmuel Birnbaum ylct’a, rosh yeshivas Mir in the US, who says at a young age R’ Tuvia had formed a very tight bond with his rebbe.
By the age of 17 he had already begun to write halachic responsa. He continued his studies at Baranovitch until the outbreak of World War II, when he was forced to seek refuge in Vilna and, although he was captured by the Russians there, his subsequent exile to Siberia along with dozens of other talmidim from the yeshiva actually facilitated their long-term survival. Approximately 40 talmidim were sent to Siberia where they spent five years in a work camp.
Through mesirus nefesh they constantly sought ways to limit the chilul Shabbos imposed on them. At first the camp director wanted to give them the death penalty, but when a government official from Moscow arrived at the camp and asked to meet with one of them, Rav Goldstein spent nearly an hour conversing with him. “I am a Jew, and my mother told me I must do everything for Judaism, and I do not want to desecrate the Sabbath,” he explained.
Upon leaving the meeting the official told the camp director he could ease their work requirements on Shabbos since they worked hard all week. From that point on the camp director was afraid the talmidim had ties with Moscow and gave them larger rations. And in the freezing cold of -40 degrees they were even permitted to build a succah.
When the war ended Rav Goldstein went to France where he spent two years with HaRav Mordechai Pogremansky zt’l, eventually receiving a visa to the US where he resumed studying intensely. He married the daughter of a Holocaust survivor and lived in the US for nearly 15 years in the same building as HaRav Moshe Feinstein zt’l, who was mekarev him very much. On one occasion Rebbetzin Feinstein woke HaRav Goldstein late at night saying HaRav Feinstein wanted him to help render a ruling in a matter of pikuach nefesh.
For years HaRav Feinstein would pass on written psokim and teshuvos for Rav Goldstein to examine, since he was more familiar with various responsa and poskim and he wanted to be sure that his references were accurate. In various places Igros Moshe reads, ” . . . which I heard from my friend, HaGaon Rav Tuvia Goldstein.”
Eventually he set up Yeshivas Emek Halocho during a period when the concepts of horo’oh and halocho were not well- known in the US, but the yeshiva and kollel were destined to become one of the country’s leading yeshivas with thousands of talmidim learning under HaRav Goldstein. He also helped inspire numerous baalei batim living in the neighborhood, many of whom took part in the bedside prayer vigil during his final period in the hospital.
HaRav Goldstein’s son, HaRav Mordechai ylct’a, said that despite living in the US for nearly 60 years he never learned English, remaining with his heritage and speaking with everybody in Yiddish. Nonetheless he was able to relate well to his talmidim and to form strong links with them.
The levaya set out from Yeshivas Emek Halocho on Sunday evening, with thousands accompanying him on his last earthly journey. He was eulogized by HaRav Shmuel Birnbaum, HaRav Chaim Pinchos Scheinberg and HaRav Yeruchom Olshin.
In Israel the aron was brought to the square outside Yeshivas Mir where a crowd of thousands awaited the hespeidim. After reciting a chapter of Tehillim HaRav Yitzchok Ezrachi , one of the roshei yeshivos at Mir, spoke first. Other speakers included HaRav Yisroel Garber, a friend of the deceased ever since they studied together at Yeshivas Kamenitz in Lithuania; HaRav Yitzchok Sheiner, Rosh Yeshivas Kamenitz; HaRav Tzvi Partzovitz, one of the roshei yeshivos at Yeshivas Mir-Brachfeld; the deceased’s son, HaRav Mordechai Goldstein, moro de’asro of the Mishkenos Yaakov neighborhood in Beit Shemesh; and his son-in-law, HaRav Osher David, who is slated to take his place as rosh yeshivas Emek Halocho.
Following the hespeidim the procession set out toward Har Hamenuchos. On his last earthly journey HaRav Yuvia Goldstein, zt’l, was accompanied by his many talmidim from the US and Eretz Yisroel and was buried in the afternoon.
Rav Tuvia was survived by the Rebbetzin and their sons, Rav Chaim Meir and Rav Mordechai, the moro de’asra of the Mishkenot Yaakov neighborhood in Ramat Beit Shemesh. His daughters are married to Rav Yosef Mermelstein, rosh yeshivas Novominsk in Boro Park, and Rav Osher David, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Emek Halacha, formerly of Boro Park and now in Lakewood, NJ.
Yehi zichro boruch.