Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg
Rabbi Chaim Pinchas ScheinbergIsrael news photo: JDN

Tens of thousands attended on Wednesday the funeral of Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, the "Elder of the Torah Sages" as he was reverently called, who passed away in Jerusalem at the age of 101.

Rabbi Scheinberg, founder and head of Torah Ohr Yeshiva in Kiryat Mattersdorf and New York, and member of the Chief Council of Torah Sages of Degel Hatorah as well as member of the Presidium of Mifal HaShas, was buried at the Mount of Olives cemetery in Jerusalem after a lengthy funeral at which the greatest of Israel's rabbis eulogized him.

Thousands walked to the burial site after the funeral service at the Torah Ohr yeshiva he founded, slowly climbing the steep road that ascends to the Mount of Olives.

Arutz Sheva was at the funeral and spoke with some of the attendees.

Avrumy Zuckerman, a student of Rabbi Scheinberg, said that the rabbi, who grew up in America, could have been a doctor or a lawyer in materialistic America but he “chose to devote his life to serving G-d.”

He added, “His house was a very simple house. There was nothing fancy about it. It had exactly what a Jew needs to have - no more.”

Of the connection between Rabbi Scheinberg and his students, Zuckerman said it was “very very close. All the students talked about how close they were to him. He gave them a very warm feeling.”

Rabbi Scheinberg “grew up in the United States of America at a time that simply for one to maintain the most basic elementary yiddishkeit -  to keep the Sabbath, to keep kosher -  was an act of great self-sacrifice,” said well known Torah lecturer Rabbi Shalom Gold of Har Nof, a long time American oleh (immigrant).

At that time, said Rabbi Gold, “Nobody even dreamed of the idea that somebody could be raised in the United States of America and turn out to be a Torah giant of the sort that Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg was.”

“He became a member of the top echelons of Torah greats in our generation,” said Rabbi Gold. “He’s right there at the top with very few people who live in that rarified atmosphere of real greatness.”

Rabbi Scheinberg is considered one of the premier leaders of the Lithuanian hareidi religious movement and author of various scholarly works, including Taba'at HaChoshen, a four volume treatise on the seminal halakhic work, Ksot HaChoshen, and the three volume Mishmeret Chaim where the analysis of dilemmas illustrates the Talmudic method of study.

He was especially well-known for his exacting piety, symbolized by his wearing more than 36 layers of tzitzit (fringed four-cornered garment symbolizing the commandments) and keeping on his tefillin (phylacteries) from dawn to dark.

He remained active in the daily affairs of yeshiva life despite his age, including in fundraising for the institution and in responding to Jewish legal questions.

The great Torah sage, born in Ostrov, Poland in 1910, moved to the United States at the age of nine and spent his early years studying in the Rabbi Jacob Joseph Yeshiva (RJJ) on New York's Lower East Side. This was a period when there was little Torah activity in the United States and the yeshiva was named for Rabbi Jacob Joseph Herman, the Torah pioneer who fought successfully to change that situation and whose daughter Basha married Rabbi Scheinberg.

Rabbi Scheinberg continued his Torah studies at Rabbi Yitzchak Elchanan Yeshiva and then at the Mir Yeshiva until moving to Israel. He studied with giants such as Rabbi Moshe Soloveitchik, Rabbi Shimon Shkop and the Meitchiter Iluy (Genius), Rabbi Shlomo Polachek.

In 1965, Rabbi Scheinberg, his family and his driver, Rabbi Asa Wittow and family, moved into the newly-developing hareidi-religious Jerusalem  neighborhood of Mattersdorf from New York, where he had previously established the Torah Ohr Yeshiva in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn.

The rabbi established Israel's Torah Ohr (Torah is Light) yeshiva that same year, first in Givat Shaul and then eventually moved it in 1971 to its present building in Kiryat Mattersdorf, where he soon became a revered Torah figure and acknowledged rabbi of the neighborhood.

At present, nearly 800 rabbinic students attend Yeshiva Torah Ohr in Israel, including more than 500 post-graduate Torah kollel scholars.

(Rochel Sylvetsky co-authored this article)