Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg zt”lMar 21, 2012 at 10:34:26 PM
The story is told of the Vilna Gaon ― one of the greatest rabbis of the past 500 years ― who lay on his deathbed and began to cry. He held his tzitzit close to his heart and bemoaned: "In this world, we can attain great riches with every mitzvah. But where I am going, I can no longer even wear tzitzit!"
I was thinking of this story as I returned today from the funeral of Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg. Rabbi Scheinberg was the leader of the American community in Israel for nearly 50 years, whose home and heart was always open to dispense advice, answer complex halachic questions, and guide his thousands of students.
Rabbi Scheinberg was a brilliant and diligent scholar who completed the entire Talmud by age 16.
After his marriage at age 19, the young couple journeyed across the ocean ― from the material riches of America to the impoverished lifestyle of rural Poland ― so that Rabbi Scheinberg could immerse in the lofty scholarship of the Mir Yeshiva. It was this unwavering devotion to Torah study that propelled Rabbi Scheinberg to a lifelong leadership role.
Rabbi Scheinberg was known to never waste a minute. He once asked someone to buy him a certain brand of bath soap, because he'd heard that it lathers quicker and thus could save him precious moments.
In 1965, Rabbi Scheinberg and his family moved into the new Jerusalem neighborhood of Mattersdorf, which was then located on the Jordanian border. Shortly thereafter he opened the Torah Ohr Yeshiva, which today stands as a Jerusalem landmark and has produced thousands of Torah scholars. He was fully accessible to the public, no bodyguards, 24/7.
Rabbi Scheinberg died this week at age 101. When his wife Bessie died in 2009, they had been married just shy of 80 years.
So why was I reminded of the story of the Vilna Gaon holding his tzitzit? because Rabbi Scheinberg was known to wear dozens of pairs of tzitzit at a time. (In the past he wore approximately 150 pairs, but in later years 70 pairs.) Some say he wore so many after taking a vow to do so when one of his children became very ill. But when asked, Rabbi Scheinberg said he wore so many pairs because "each one is a mitzvah."
Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg lived an illustrious life and will be sorely missed. The tens of thousands who attended his funeral attest to this greatness. May his memory be for a blessing.