אוי לה לספינה שאבד קברניטה • The Novominsker Rebbe, Rav Yaakov Perlow zt”l

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It is with great sadness that Matzav.com reports the petirah of the Novominsker Rebbe, Hagaon Rav Yaakov Perlow zt”l. He was 89.

The rebbe served as rosh Agudas Yisroel of America, a position he held since 1998. He was also a member and the nose of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of Agudas Yisroel of America.

The rebbe was born in Brooklyn, New York, a son of Rav Nochum Mordechai Perlow, the Novominsker Rebbe, and Rebbetzin Beila Rochma, née Morgenstern. The rebbe was named after his great-grandfather, Rav Yaakov Perlow, the first Novominsker Rebbe. His maternal zaide was Rav Yitzchok Zelig Morgenstern, the Sokolover Rebbe, a direct descendant of Rav Menachem Mendel of Kotzk and one of the main founders of Agudas Yisroel in Poland.

The rebbe’s father, Rav Nochum Mordechai, was niftar in 1976.

In his formative years, the rebbe learned at Yeshiva Toras Chaim in East New York and then at Yeshivas Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin in Brooklyn, where he studied under the rosh yeshiva, Rav Yitzchok Hutner zt”l.

The rebbe married his wife, Rebbetzin Yehudis a”h, who was a daughter of Rav Avrohom Eichenstein zt”l, Ziditchover Rebbe of Chicago, and Rebbetzin Bobche Eichenstein a”h, a daughter of Rav Pinchos Shalom Rottenberg zt”l of Kosson. Rebbetzin Yehudis grew up in the fifties when opportunities for American Jews were opening up. Offered a full scholarship to the University of Chicago upon graduation from the Ida Crown Jewish Academy, she turned it down to join her peers at the local city college because yeshiva kids at the time commonly abandoned their Yiddishkeit at the elite school. She knew who she was: the first American-born child of her Chassidic rabbinic family that arrived in Chicago in 1922. She was the generation that caused her great-grandfather, the Strizover Rav, to cry when his children took their leave for America. “I’m not worried about you and your children,” he explained. “I am worried about your future grandchildren.”

The rebbe‘s in-laws, Rav and Rebbetzin Eichenstein, ran multi-generational shul/home complexes in various Chicago neighborhoods in an American variation of a Chassidish  hoif (court). Greenhorns shared their troubles with the rov and were honored with conducting zemiros at the table Friday night even though they went to work Shabbos morning. Students got help with their term papers from the young and brilliant Hungarian-born rebbetzin and left with a package of homemade goodies. The couple functioned as a team, doing private hatzalah work during the war years. Meshulachim spent weeks in residence and always found a repeat customer for seforim in the rov. The Bnei Akiva kids would gather to play ball behind the shul and hang out in the house.

This was the illustrious family that the rebbe married into.

The rebbe, even in the early years of his marriage, was already recognized as an outstanding talmid chochom, masmid and lamdan.

The rebbe began his career of harbotzas Torah and Torah leadership as a rebbi at Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois. From there, he was appointed rosh yeshiva at Breuer’s Yeshiva, Yeshivas Rabbi Shamshon Raphael Hirsch, in Washington Heights and he established a Novominsker Bais Medrash.

In 1981, the rebbe left Breuer’s to establish and devote himself to his own yeshiva, Yeshivas Novominsk Kol Yehuda, in Boro Park, also opening up a Novominsker Shul.

In December 1998, the rebbe was named as rosh Agudas Yisroel seven months after the petirah of Rabbi Moshe Sherer zt”l. In this role, the rebbe served as a fearless leader for American Torah Jewry, guiding the Agudah and the olam haTorah with sagacity, strength and courage.

The rebbe was a powerful orator, whose drashos and speeches over the decades articulated the daas Torah of the time.

The rebbe was a brilliant individual, whose knowledge was utilized for the betterment of Klal Yisroel on numerous occasions. The rebbe courageously fought off intrusions into the Orthodox community, calling out false ideologies in drashos and in writings. His most recent public drasha was delivered at the 13th Siyum Hashas of Daf Yomi at MetLife Stadium to 100,000 people.

The rebbe‘s depth of lomdus and the breadth of his bekius are seen in his monumental seforim, titled Adas Yaakov, on Shas. The seforim are masterpieces of clarity and amkus, a reflection of the rebbe‘s wide-ranging yedios haTorah and koach hachiddush.

With the passing of the rebbe, Klal Yisroel has lost one of its guiding lights, a determined and influential manhig, mashpia and leader who will be sorely missed.

Yehi zichro boruch.

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21 COMMENTS

  1. I have known the Rebbe and his prestigious late Rebbetzen for years, and they were unique, and quite possibly this may maybe the biggest lost we have suffered from this entire Corona saga

  2. The Rebbe Ztl, in addition to his other qualities of gadlus was a tremendous Talmid Chochom. My Rosh Yeshiva Ztl, a fiery Litvak, in shiur once quoted the Rebbe in answering a Shvere Rambam – the answer was brilliant, and showed us the Gadlus of the Rebbe in Shas.
    May he be a Meilitz Yosher for K’lal Yisrael, and should go before the Kisei Hakovod, and beg for the end of our Tzaros, as he cared so much for the Klal. May we be zoche to the Geula Shliema B’karov, and to bring the Korban Pesach tomorrow in the Beis Hamikdash

  3. Because of the current situation, the Rebbe’s family is respectfully requesting that nobody other than immediate family participate in the levaya or kevura, which will be’H take place later today. Clearly, as the tremendous baal achrayus that he was, those would have been the Rebbe’s wishes as well.

    People are encouraged to participate by telephone in the saying of Tehillim. This will take place at 10:00 EDT this morning. The call-in number is 646-558-8656, code 166-981-037#.

  4. People are encouraged to participate by telephone in the saying of Tehillim. This will take place at 10:00 this morning. The call-in number is 646-558-8656, code 166-981-037#.

    • The rebbe was a standing figure for the entire kale yisrael. The loss is unfathemable. Who knows if he wanted to do another thing that can help the entire klal yisrael and be a sacrifice for all the world
      zechet tzaddik vekodosh livrocha

  5. I saw the Rebbe a number of times, learnt from his monumental sefer many times, and despite not being Talmid always just felt close to him. His aristocratic bearing, his charisma, his towering gadlus. The Rebbe was a brilliant Talmid Chacham and tremendous masmid who would regularly stay up nights immersed in Torah and constantly needed to ask bachurim in Yeshiva to say berachos for him in the morning. As long as the Rebbe lived, I always felt that there was an adult in the room, an individual who could handle the problems of American Jewry with clarity, insight and deftness. Now we have lost him and are bereft of his greatness. Wow to us! May Hashem have rachmanus!

  6. Baruch Dayan Haemet!!!! Naflah Ateret Roshenu!!!!! I was shocked to see this & I can’t believe it’s true!!!! Oy how sad!!!

  7. my rebba ztl zol davinin for all of us he always davened for us he loved us like a totty the rebbe was very in to tefila he gave shiurum in hilchos tefilla also he was very makpid on the bal kora as he liened for many years

  8. my rebba ztl zol davinin for all of us he always davened for us he loved us like a totty the rebbe was very in to tefila he gave shiurum in hilchos tefilla also he was very makpid on the bal kora as he liened for many years. may mashiach come now bizchus rabeinu zecher tzadik livracha

  9. Boruch Daiyan HaEmes!!

    As the Rebbitzon, A’H, was overseeing a certain project at the Agudas Yisroel office that I was assisting with, she arranged for me to be at the Rebbe, ZT’L, for a number of his Pesach Sedorim. Many, many times I Davened in his Beis Medrosh on Shabbos and Yom Tov and was greatly impressed by the immense intensity of the Tefilos there. Many, many times I heard him deliver public addresses, in his Shul, at Agudas Yisroel conventions, and at other events. I was greatly impressed with — as noted here in the write-up and in the comments — his superb oratory, his immense passion for the gravely serious issues, and, probably above all, his full willingness to publicly “say what had to be said,” even if that “saying” was something that was quite “controversial.”

  10. (Continuation of my above remark)

    Probably his biggest masterpiece of such a public address — maybe we can call it his “signature” address — both in what he said and in the gravely urgent need for those words to be said, came at the Agudas Yisroel convention in November of 1995. Just several days before the opening of the convention, on November 4, there had been one of the most shattering events in Jewish history, and really, whole world history: the assassination of the Prime Minister of Israel, Yitzchak Rabin. The person who was apprehended as supposedly having been the shooter, Yigal Amir, was putting out a line, proclaiming that what he did was really a “noble” deed. He referred to the Sugya of the Gemara in Sanhedrin that states the Din of a Rodef (the law regarding someone who is chasing after someone else to kill him) that we are required to kill the Rodef. So, he stated that Rabin, with his very liberal policies of making deals with the Palestinians, was a Rodef; he was a threat to the whole country of Israel, and so, it was an obligation to kill him. He brazenly remarked: “I STUDY TALMUD ALL DAY!!” thus implying that he well knew that what he did was merely following a Talmudic directive.

    (First of all, his “all day Talmud study” thing was a huge lie, for while he had attended the prestigious Mizrachi Yeshiva, Kerem B’Yavneh, his time was occupied with other endeavors as well, including attending law school and being an agent in Israel’s intelligence Shin Bet service. His presentation of the Rodef item as if it was some complex abstract Talmudic axiom, is equally false, for the “Din of a Rodef,” IS the worldwide known fundamental rule of human civilization of “Self Defense”!)

    So, on top of the immense tragedy of the assassination of Israel’s Prime Minister, the thug who did it was claiming that “the Talmud” — that big book that those fanatic religious Orthodox Jews read — says that it was all AOK!! A massive Chillul Hashem!!

    So, at the convention, when the Rebbe approached the podium, with fullest fury, he blasted down this most horrendous falsification of Torah. He glaringly showed that this despicable deed was absolutely no act of “Self Defense” whatsoever at all and that MURDER, with no exceptions, certainly is one of the most horrendous of crimes that the Torah most strongly condemns.

    Mi Yitiein T’muraso!! Who will provide his replacement!!

  11. BDE.

    “Sar Godol B’Yisroel Nofal”.

    It is interesting to note, that the Rebbe, ZT”L, graduated with Phi Beta Kappa Honors from Brooklyn College.
    A very very rare, & unusual occurrence for a scion of a Chassidic Rabbinic Dynasty. Especially, & more so, in the generation into which the Rebbe, ZT’L,was born into.

  12. נַחֲמוּ נַחֲמוּ עַמִּי יֹאמַר אֱלֹקיכֶם עָלָה מָוֶת בְּחַלּוֹנֵינוּ.

    נַחֲמוּ נַחֲמוּ עַמִּי יֹאמַר אֱלֹקיכֶם
    עָלָה מָוֶת בְּחַלּוֹנֵינוּ: – בואו ונבדוק ביחד המצב המר של היום:

    המגיפה החריפה שפוקדת את הקהילה החרדית בעולם כולו ובפרט בארצות הברית הביאה אתמול ושלשום למותם של עשרות חרדים נוספים זי”ע – חלקם ממש צעירים בשנות הארבעים והחמישים לחייהם, כשהם מותירים אלמנות ויתומים רכים בביתם ה”י•

    בואו חשבון:
    * הקב”ה זרק אותנו מבתי הכנסת ובתחילה היה מותר להתפלל בחוץ.
    * עכשיו הקב”ה גם את התפילות הללו הקב”ה דוחה ויש לנו להתפלל יחידי.
    * הקב”ה זרק אותנו החוצה מהישיבות, וחדרים של תינוקות של בית רבן.
    * גם הלימוד תורה שלנו לא כל כך מתקבלים בשמים.
    * הגאווה והיהירות שלנו בחברה החרדית הביאה אותנו לאסון גדול ונורא
    שאחד מכל שלשה חרדים חולים בקורונה רח”ל ה”י ויצילינו מכל צרה וצוקה
    ומחלה

    רואים מכאן ש
    – ד’ לא שומר על מי שלא שומר על עצמו ברוחניות
    – ד’ לא מעוניין בלימוד התורה שלנו כפי שהיה עד עכשיו
    – ד’ לא מעוניין בתפילות שלנו כפי שהיו…. ואנחנו חייבים לשנות דרך התפלות
    – ד’ מדבר איתנו דברי קשות ואנחנו מסרבים לשמוע רח”ל

    הנביא אומר שהקב”ה אמר ~ “שָׂנֵאתִי מָאַסְתִּי חַגֵּיכֶם וְלֹא אָרִיחַ בְּעַצְּרֹתֵיכֶם: (עמוס פרק ה פסוק כא) כִּי אִם תַּעֲלוּ לִי עֹלוֹת וּמִנְחֹתֵיכֶם לֹא אֶרְצֶה וְשֶׁלֶם מְרִיאֵיכֶם לֹא אַבִּיט. הָסֵר מֵעָלַי הֲמוֹן שִׁרֶיךָ וְזִמְרַת נְבָלֶיךָ לֹא אֶשְׁמָע.” ח”ו

    *אנא עם ישראל היקרים הגיע הזמן להתעורר לחיות כיהודים של פעם
    *נא ונא תתעוררו עכשיו עם כל הלב. המשיח כבר מגיע עכשיו….

    *ואני תפילה שד’ ירחם עלינו בקרוב ממש, כי כעת עם ישראל עוד לא מבין רמזים, אז אני מבקש שהשם ית’ ירחם עלינו וישלח משיח צדקינו לגאלינו, ושנזכה ליַגִּיעֵנוּ לְמוֹעֲדִים וְלִרְגָלִים אֲחֵרִים הַבָּאִים לִקְרָאתֵנוּ לְשָׁלוֹם, שְׂמֵחִים בְּבִנְיַן עִירֶךָ וְשָׂשִׂים בַּעֲבוֹדָתֶךָ, וְנֹאכַל [השנה] מִן הַזְּבָחִים וּמִן הַפְּסָחִים במהרה בימינו, אמן

  13. “A very very rare, & unusual occurrence for a scion of a Chassidic Rabbinic Dynasty. Especially, & more so, in the generation into which the Rebbe, ZT’L,was born into.”

    1) Not so rare. You may personally not know of other cases, but they definitely exist.

    2) On the contrary, I think it was more common in the past than it is today.

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