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Sunday, February 25, 2007

 

Rabbi Avraham Blumenkrantz ZT"L

Rabbi Blumenkrantz [center] selling the Chametz to a non-Jew [left]
picture courtesy of Yeshiva World News (Click to enlarge).
*
Torah Jewry lost someone very special this past Thursday. While due to his honor I'd like to bring the following report from today's English HaModia newspaper, I urge you to please read the personal tributes that follow it, which are just as important.
***
HaRav Avraham Blumenkrantz, ZTL
By HaModia Staff
The Torah world was deeply saddened by the petira [passing] Thursday afternoon of HaRav Avraham Blumenkrantz Zt''l, 63, internationally respected Rav and posek [Halachist] and Halacha teacher to two generations of women in the New York area. He passed away from complications that followed major heart surgery he underwent last week.
Rav Blumenkrantz, who was the Rav of Beis Medrash Ateres Yisrael in Far Rockaway NY, was also the "Pesach Rebbe" to tens of thousands of people he never met, through the publication of his annual The Laws of Pesach: A Digest, which, for many American families, was the guide to making Pesach.
The book's hundreds of pages contained not only a wealth of details about Hilchos Pesach, Pesach preparations and detailed product and medication lists, but important information about commercial food preparation in general, Chadash [laws of new grains], Shmita (Laws of the seventh year’s crops, when applicable) and even Pesach recipes and remedies.
Rav Blumenkrantz taught in many girls' high schools and seminaries, and gave shiurim [classes] at numerous Torah gatherings. A talmid muvhak [distinguished disciple] of HaRav Moshe Feinstein Zt''l, Rav Blumenkrantz fought zealously to uphold and increase Kedushas Yisrael [Jewish holiness] in the face of America's many nisyonos [trials], and was greatly beloved, especially by his mispallelim [congregants].
His home was a known makom chessed [place of kindness], and he made himself available at all times to people from all walks of life worldwide who sought his counsel and advice.
A master of Ahavas Yisrael [love for his fellow Jew], Rav Blumenkrantz listened to all with an open heart, and answered even the most complex she'eilos [queries] in a caring and non-judgmental manner.
HaRav Blumenkrantz is survived by his Eishes Chayil [wife], Rebbitzen Shaindel, as well as sons and daughters to whom he was an exceptionally devoted father. He also leaves behind a brother, HaRav Shlomo Blumenkrantz of Kensington [Brooklyn], and a sister, Mrs. Sarah Etel Berkowitz of Eretz Yisrael.
After a levaya attended by thousands in Far Rockaway on Friday morning, Rav Blumenkrantz is being brought today to Eretz Yisrael for Kevura [burial]. The Levaya will begin at 9:30 pm at Yerushalayim’s Shamgar funeral home.
Yehi zichro Baruch! May his memory be for a blessing!
***
A fitting PS to the Levaya info that concludes the HaModia piece, from New York:
"Until the last moments of the departure of the Aron [coffin] onto the plane, people were on line waiting to be given permission by airport security people, to stand next to the Aron, one or two people at a time. Until the Aron was being driven away, people didn’t want to leave. What testimony to how beloved he was."

***

My wife and I were privileged to have known Rabbi Blumenkrantz, from the "early days" over 30 years ago. Realizing that he passed away at the rather young age of 62, it means that he was teaching us while yet in his 20s – and we were not the first!
As HaModia noted, Rabbi Blumenkrantz was the "Halacha teacher to two generations of women in the New York area." What must be stressed is that he was one of the first in this field, and literally thousands of women received their Halachic education from him. He taught a wide range of women as well, from Rebbetzin Freifeld's seminary, Ayeles HaShachar, to the Sarah Schenirer Seminary in Boro Park. Throughout Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, from the 1970s till his passing, just about every girl learned Halacha from Rabbi Blumenkrantz! Can you imagine?
And although he was probably best known for his expertise in the field of Kashrus, Rabbi Blumenkrantz was quite familiar with all areas of Halacha – Shabbos, Taharas HaMishpacha [Family purity]*, you name it**.
In fact, one of my wife's fondest memories of his teachings was the way he explained the idea of tzniyus [Jewish modesty] to the new baalos teshuva [women returnees to Judaism] of her seminary. A woman isn’t required to make herself unattractive, he taught them. On the contrary she’s allowed to be attractive. "Attractive, yes; attracting, no," he would say. In other words, a woman doesn’t have to hide under a burka, but needs to present herself in a modest way.

*Rabbi Blumenkrantz wrote a book entitled "Gefen Porioh, The Laws of Niddah: a Digest," published by Simcha Graphics in 1984.
**Another book he authored is "Yiroucho Im Shomesh: A Halachic Exposition on the Solar Cycle and the Order of the Blessing of the Sun," 1981. Both of these appear to be currently unavailable.

***

In their article about Rav Blumenkrantz’s passing, Arutz 7 noted that the website which broke the news was the Yeshiva World News. They also noted that there was a flood of responses. In addition, the website Vos iz Neias [What’s News?] also posted it, and was similarly flooded with responses. Between them, there have been some 150 responses since Thursday evening. What follows are some of the selected comments and responses from these two articles.

"I was privileged to have him as a teacher as well. He was an expert in Hilchos Shabbos and a wonderful human being. Klal Yisrael has lost a treasure!"

"The Rav Zatz’l was my wife’s Halacha teacher, my one-on-one Choson class Rebbe and our Mesader Kiddushin…"

"What a tragic loss to Klal Yisrael. Thanks to his superhuman efforts on publishing his Pesach Digest, hundreds of thousands of Yidden [Jews] knew what was permissible and what was not. I remember years ago with only 4-5 hours to Yom Tov, my husband wanted to call him with a complex Pesach shaila. When he finally got through to him, he was so nice and in no rush to end the conversation, until my husband understood the Psak together with his reasoning. A true gem of a Tzaddik."

"Rabbi Blumenkrantz was a talmid muvhak of Rav Moshe [Feinstein] zt"l, and was very familiar with Reb Moshe’s psakim on a vast array of shaylos affecting our modern day life... He will be sorely missed by all for his thorough yet precise teshuvos. Many remember him from his being on the radio for many years for days before Pesach answering shaylos on all inyonim [matters]: koshering, medicines, etc.
He put out a few sefarim [books] in English as well as Hebrew. He was an ish yosher [upright man], respected by all segments of Chareidi Jewry. He had a Kollel hora’ah in Far Rockaway. When the Pesach Digest actually evolved as a fundraiser for the Kollel, he put out a divrei Torah sheet for Far Rockaway and the Five Towns every week. In our day, to lose a talmid chacham like this is a major loss…"

"Who can we turn to now? We sorely needed Rabbi Blumenkrantz to pull through. He was a King among the Kings. I am unaware of any Gadol who allowed himself to be accessible at all times of the day, or night, whether he knew the people or not. Furthermore he treated everyone with dignity, and didn’t make money or donations a matter of importance. Who can we turn to now?"

"I was Zoche to daven in his shul for many years. I never heard a bad word come out of his mouth. We will miss him dearly - a mispallel [congregant]."

"My wife had him as a Halacha rebbe in high school so many years ago and whenever I would meet him in a store or at a simcha or even on the street, I would go over to him and give him a Shalom Aleichem, and he would know exactly who I was, even though I never had him as a rebbe He just was an unbelievable person and a great Posek Hador. He will be surely missed by the thousands of his talmidos and by the many people that used his Pesach Digest for knowing what was Kosher L’Pesach or not…"

"Though I did not have Rabbi Blumenkrantz zt”l as a teacher, I personally benefited from the Rav and so did people I know. I called Rabbi Blumenkrantz a few times with shailos, and was always answered right away. One time, an issue came up, and the Rav made time for me to personally speak to him in his home. I am so glad that I had the zechus to be in the tzaddik’s home, though only for a few minutes. When a certain medical shaila came up on Shabbos, we knew whom to turn to. I had the zechus to daven twice in the shul, and also heard Rabbi Blumenkrantz give a Navi shiur. His warm, gentle voice was such a pleasure to listen to. The Pesach book was a staple in my house; we are holding on to the copy from last year. A relative of mine had Rabbi Blumenkrantz as a teacher, both in high school and seminary. Another person I know had a major kashrus issue, and the Rav spent three days with her helping her sort it out - always patient, always helpful."

And finally: "I had the great privilege of having Rabbi Blumenkrantz as my teacher in high school over 20 years ago. He permeated kedusha in everything he did. His kindness and caring, the way he related to us as students, the concern that he had for Hashem’s Torah, all of this made us realize that there was something so special about him.
After I graduated I still called Rabbi Blumenkrantz from time to time. I remember that about a year ago I called him and asked him for advice for a situation that was difficult to me. He helped me see the situation in a spiritual way, that freed me from the emotional frustration of what was happening and allowed me to deal correctly. This is just one small example of what he did on a continual basis for anyone and everyone who solicited his help. I will always remember his kind gentle voice and his kind actions."
May we all be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem!

Comments:
I always like your postings when you recount your personal recollections of the people you write about.
 
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