‘Holy Man’ Dead in Train Tragedy

Rabbi killed in train tragedy was known as a serene and holy man whose inner joy shone in his ready smile.

Maayana Miskin ,

Israel news photo: Flash 90

Rabbi Moshe Gefen was killed early Sunday morning in a tragic accident in Hadera.

A friend who was among the first on the scene spoke to Arutz Sheva about what happened and talked about Rabbi Gefen.

Rabbi Gefen, 60, was making his way to synagogue services when he was hit by a passing train. The rabbi had waited for a first train to pass before attempting to cross the tracks, but apparently failed to notice a second train coming from the other direction.

Rabbi David Birenbaum, director of Hadera’s Knesset Yitzchak yeshiva, was among the first on the scene, in his capacity as a long-time senior member of ZAKA, the halakhic emergency response organization . Only after some time did he realize that the victim was a man he knew very well, who had worked with him for years at the same yeshiva.

Rabbi Gefen “raised the yeshiva and its students. He was a symbol of purity… He had greatness of character and nobility of spirit,” Rabbi Birenbaum recalled. “He was characterized by his smile, and the kind word he always had for students."

“He had an inner joy. It was impossible to be sad in his presence for even a single minute.”

Rabbi Birenbaum is now involved in assisting the shocked extended Gefen family. “There are many tears,” he said.

The train driver who hit Rabbi Gefen felt ill afterward and needed hospital care, he added. The man told medical staff, “I could feel that I hit a holy man.”

Rabbi Gefen died the morning after Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish year, purified from all possible sin by the Day of Atonement, a sign of the righteous man that he was.

He had spent his time since Yom Kippur learning Torah all night, as was his annual custom.

Students and friends said that Rabbi Gefen learned Torah in every spare moment, often eating only when students brought food to his room. “There was no part of Torah that he did not know… This generation has lost a righteous man and a Torah giant,” one friend told the hareidi-religious news outlet Kikar HaShabbat.