Rabbi Jacob Rosenheim – Divrei Zikaron

The Following article appears in the book
Comfort Comfort my People!
A collection of Essays and Speeches by
Moreinu Jacob Rosenheim
selected and edited by Isaac Lewin
Research Institute of Religious Jewry New York 5744-1984

Rabbi Aaron Lewin
(November, 1947)

Rabbi Jacob Rosenheim
Rabbi Jacob Rosenheim

It is a holy duty for me to pay tribute to the Reisher Rav זצ”ל, and to express briefly in his memory the deep and sincere admiration I feel towards him.

Among the hundreds of Jewish spiritual giants and religious leaders whose lives were prematurely ended by Hitler’s murderous sword, and to whom Olam Haba was given too early — Rabbi Aaron Lewin, due to his unique personality, merits special evaluation.

What distinguished him among the many other spiritual leaders of orthodox Jewry was the richness of his personality. His personality combined various qualities and abilities which are otherwise rarely found together in one human being.

He was a Talmid Hakham of the old caliber, with phenomenal “Bekiut” in Shas and Poskim, and simultaneously he had a thorough and (in many areas) knowledgeable mastery of modern education and culture. He was an old-fashioned Rav, who was deeply rooted in the Beth Hamidrash, and simultaneously a political leader and member of Polish Parliament, very familiar with the Sejm and all the intricacies of political life and diplomacy of his native country, as if he had absorbed it all with his mother’s milk.

It is significant — and more than a mere episode of his life — that substantial parts of his immortal work Hadrash Ve-Haiyyuin were composed on the train during his trips between Rzeszow and Warsaw, as well as in Warsaw during the meetings of the Sejm. This fact symbolizes the spiritual combination of Torah study and political activity of a true Jew for whom politics means nothing less than the struggle to manifest Torah ideals in public life.

His concept of life was infused with harmony as expressed in the Aggadic and homiletic parts of the Hadrash Ve-Haiyyun on the one hand, and on the other, in his collection of Teshuvos Avnei Heifetz.

His commitment to principle combined with a love of peace characterized him as a rabbi. This was also true for his decades of leadership of Agudath Israel (previously “Shlomei Emunei Israel” in Poland); for these combined traits shone from him like a ray of light.

He demonstrated on many occasions, as President of the Central Council of the World Aguda, that he could contribute to the social and educational undertakings of the Aguda. He knew how to unite the various spiritual factions of Orthodoxy, Hassidim and Mitnagdim, Polish, Lithuanian, German and Hungarian Jews — for the sake of G-d and His Torah.

In this area, as nowhere else, a unifying personality such as Rabbi Aaron Lewin’s was vital for the organization. Remembering this in deep mourning, one wants to repeat the saying: “Woe for those whom we have lost and for whom no replacement can be found.’

I personally mourn in Rabbi Aaron Lewin a most respected and dear friend who during difficult hours of political struggle gave me his full support.

Seventeen years ago, he contributed to my Jubilee book, which was then published, a short but most enlightening Hebrew article in which he described a Jewish leader in the words of the Book of Vayikra (8:23):

ויקח משה מדמו ויתן על תנוך אוזן אהרן הימנית ועל בהן ידו הימנית ועל בהן רגלו הימנית

And Moses took the blood and put it upon the tip of Aaron’s right ear and upon the thumb of his right hand an upon the great toe of his right foot.

Without knowing it, he wonderfully described his own activity and his own personality. With his ears, hands, and feet, with his entire personality, he served his G-d, his people and the Torah.

He will remain in the heavenly realms a “Melitz Yosher”  for his near ones and for all of us — in the difficult times which may still separate us from the “Geula Shleima”.

תהי נפשו צרורה בצרור בחיים ויהנה מזיו השכינה ויעמוד לגורלו לקץ הימין בב”א