HaRav Mendel Weinbach

Memories from Talmidim

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
HaGaon HaRav Mendel Weinbach

We didn't just lose a Rosh HaYeshiva. We lost a teacher, leader, advisor, educator, journalist, planner, historian, lecturer, statesman, therapist, problem-solver, author, diplomat, patriarch, friend, comrade and rebbie.

We have created this page to give an opportunity for rabbis, staff, students, alumni and friends to share their memories and thoughts about a man who so successfully dedicated his entire life to educating his fellow Jew.  This will help us towards an understanding of who Rav Weinbach zt”l was and what he meant to all who had the merit to know him and interact with him.

Our loss is immeasurable, but our consolation will be in fulfilling the continuity of his legacy of reaching out to our fellow Jew and bringing him closer to Torah.

If you would like to share a memory or thought on Rav Weinbach zt"l to be published on this site, please please use this form.

For a great man who spoke to me minimally in the few minutes between his shiurim, he knew me personally well enough to speak beautifully about me on a unique and individual level at my vort.

It is only fitting that his passing was during the days of Chanukah. I strive to make his life work and daily dedication to kiruv rechokim an inspiration in my life.

Brian Silvey
Recalling Rav Mendel

I have three strong recollections of R. Mendel Weinbach zt'l. These three incidents occurred in my years in Ohr Somayach.

The first was possibly my first Shavuos in '80. At about 1 AM the Rosh Yeshiva spoke on Shavuos in a booming voice. It was breathtaking and awesome at the same time. Rav Mendel made it real. Every Shavuos I think about his drasha.

Next, I recall the Rosh Yeshiva speaking on Yom Haatzmaut. Everyone came to hear this drasha. Women were in the Ezras Nashim. It seemed that everyone knew that the drasha would be powerful. I still hear his words, 'Today is a day of great joy, and of great sadness. Joy, because of the Land of Eretz Yisrael. And sadness because of what could have been.

Finally I recall one Purim morning where Rav Mendel made gramen- poems at breakfast.

Stealthily, the South African bochurim were handing him shots of whiskey, first one, then another. It wasn't too long before the Rosh Yeshiva, was unable to continue the gramen. I was stupefied as they led him off to a taxi.

A few nights later Rav Mendel gave the evening drasha and discussed the concept of ad delo yodah, what it means and the depth behind the mitzvah. He summed up and explained the mitzvah to those who were left wondering if Purim was really such a great thing after all.

Rav Mendel's example and lessons left indelible impressions on me. I hear his voice ringing in my ears and I cannot imagine who I would be without his actions, words and feelings.

Yosef Stolz
A good friend from college invited me to his wedding at a place called Ohr Somayach. Parked me at the Women's school. (Yes. For a brief and beautiful few years, there was an Ohr Somayach College for Women which later on merged with Neve Yerushalayim.)

Knowing no one; having nothing else to do, I let the girls bring me to class. The learning, with its intellectual vigor and the depth of its relevance to the Human Condition, brought a dimension to our lives undreamt of in college and grad school.

The Em ha Bayit (House Mother), Rebbitzen Feldman (wife of Rav Aaron Feldman) initiated the conversation.

She: Why not stay?

Me: I live with someone in the States.

She: Jewish?

Me: Sure.

She: She can come, too.

Me: I don't think so.

She: Why not?

Me: It's not a She. It's a He.

(Pause)

She: He could attend the Boy's school.

Me: I don't think so.

She: Why not?

Me: He's only eight.

She: Let me get back to you on this.

The following day, I was brought in to meet Reb Mendel Weinbach. His voice was high and soft and sweet. He bade me sit down. For the next half hour, he listened deeply, laughed lightly and easily and, barely looking me in the eye, asked gently probing questions about my background, my (total lack of) Jewish knowledge, my impressions of the Girl's School, my little boy.

My family was so assimilated, I explained, that it had only been by chance that I'd found out we were Jews. My brother had no children. My cousins had all married out. And I was divorced at twenty. My little boy was the last Jew in the family.

Reb Mendel shook his head, sighed. So, perhaps you can bring him here for the rest of the summer ? We've arranged a scholarship for him to a day camp, while you continue your learning.

So that is how it all began. By the summer's end, Reb Mendel and Mrs. Feldman had arranged accommodations, a living stipend, and a place for Joshua in an excellent school, Horev.

Joshua is no longer the last Jew in the family. His children, raised in the glow of Torah, all speak Hebrew, love chesed, do mitzvoth, and like the tent of Avraham, their house is a place full of guests. Recently they've begun to establish a regular kosher minyan in their home.

We continue to flourish, thanks to Ohr Somayach; snatched from the fires of assimilation and annihilation, by the rebbe with a voice like an angel and a compassionate wisdom and determination to bring home, the generations of wandering Jews "from our space-less boundaries of loss."

Dvorah-Leah Garren
I'd like to share a fond memory of Rav Mendel from the winter of '78 in Ohr Somayach in Yonkers, NY. This was the early days of Ohr Somayach in NY (pre-Monsey).

Rav Mendel was visiting with us from Israel when we were hit by a major snow storm. He immediately directed us to go down to the local super market to stock up on food and supplies! Now you have to remember, this was his first trip back to the States in many years.

That Friday night, in his drasha, Rav Mendel (with a smile and twinkle in his eye) recounted the famous gemara about Rav Shimon bar Yochai and his son coming out of the cave after 12 years.

His ability to communicate was in a class by itself. He was able to touch neshamos through his words. He always seemed to have just the right vort for the situation. And he did it with that wonderful sense of humor.

Btw, if any other Yonkers alumni are out there, i'd like to hear your recollections of that visit.

Chaim Stimmel
In my time at Ohr somayach in Jerusalem I met a lot of great Rabbi's. Rav Weinbach was a brilliantly learned man in Torah. That goes without saying, but it is true for a lot of other Rabbi's as well. What made Rav Weinbach memorable to me was that he was so NICE. I met him briefly a couple times, and he never gave me even a single negative vibe. I got the feeling that I was simply another Jew he was excited to interact with.
Michael
One day I was really down because of a problem I had with my situation at that time and a issue with my flight back to the US. I walked into the office of Rosh HaYeshiva, HaRav Mendel Weinbach zt"l and I cried while explainning my issue to him. The next day the problem was solved!
I J
Although I never had the zechus to meet HaGaon HoRav Mendel Weinbach zt"l personally, one memory really stands out in my mind. Seven and half years ago I was a bochur in a yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel and I was zoche to attend the English-speaking Siyum HaShas in Binyanei Ha'umah in Yerushalayim. Rav Mendel was one of the speakers, and I can recall vividly how he marked the occasion by speaking of the chashivus of Talmud Torah. A few minutes into his speech he turned to the thousands of people gathered, and exclaimed "It doesn't matter if you're a BT (ba'al teshuva) or an FFB (Frum from birth)!" For Rav Mendel, Torah study marked the greatest of life's pursuits, and in his inimitable style he showed that we should not be driven by stereotypes or pre-conceived judgments - Torah is there for everyone to delight in. In this day and age, such a statement is an obvious. But we have to remember that it was due to the Rosh Yeshiva's efforts and pioneering vision that the modern Ba'al Teshuva movement is what it is today. May we all continue to gain chizuk from his teachings and his legacy.
Dov Smith
Looking through some photos, I came across a picture of the Rosh Hayeshiva zt"l smiling as he attended a Chanuka party at our home 5 years ago. This brought back fond memories of a great leader who could deal with each and every talmid on a personal level, as a father to son, always caring and listening with patients. Even though we are so far, here in Melbourne, Australia all the talmidim seem to have similar memories and are trying to make sense of a new world without such an amazing role-model. We request the Rosh Yeshiva act as a meilitz yosher for Klal Yisroel.
Gershon Rose
What is remarkable is how few shiurim he gave in my time at the yeshiva but I can remember each of them because they left an indelible impression. I think one of the most poignant memories was a talk he gave to the yeshiva about 2 talmidim who unfortunately became involved in throwing rocks on the road to Ramot to protest Shabbos desecration. The key was not that they had acted without the Yeshiva's permission or knowledge nor that this behavior was itself very questionable but it was a terrible hindrance to the Yeshiva's capability to reach out to secular Israeli society that viewed the Yeshiva world as primitive and out of touch with reality. He said that a chaver knesset once got up in the knesset and decried how many pilots they were losing to Ohr Somayach. What was critical he said to understand was that the secular Israeli society was baffled and challenged by the fact that a yeshiva existed of university trained academics, Rhode scholars, oxford scholars, lawyers, doctors and accountants and other professionals who obviously could not be written off as primitive. However, he said that those 2 talmidim had potentially ruined that challenge. Now the secular elite could say that Ohr Somayach was full of eccentric and psychologically challenged academics. That would be ruinous to the chances that the Yeshiva would continue to be a beacon of inspiration to every segment of Israeli society. Yehi Zichro Boruch! I write these words in tears. I loved him from the depths of my heart and I will truly miss him. What a mastermind! What a loss for all of us. May his neshama have an aliya and may we all be reunited with Bias Hamashiach and Techiyas Hamesim.
Matisyahu Topas
With all the greatness of the Rosh Yeshiva z"l from his bekius in Shas , midrashim, halocha in fact all of Torah, he remained accessible and engendered in his talmidim that it is important to remain "normal".

I remember sitting in a shiur with him and with that characteristic smile, he leaned back arms behind his head and asked in all seriousness ""what is today?"" Obviously the talmidim thought Moshe Rabbeinu's yartzreit, perhaps another godal's yartzeit etc. After exhausting all attempts, the Rosh Yeshiva gave us the answer ""ground hogs day"" and then launched into meseches makkos. What a lesson. I will miss him. zechuso yagein aleinu

Dov Connack
I was only planning on my trip to Israel to last for 2 weeks. At the very beginning of my trip Rav Weinbach told me to come see him before I was leaving to let him know how my experience was. As a non-Jew he said to me we can offer you everything as far as food and learning. Feel free to eat here and learn all you want. Sleeping in the Yeshiva though is reserved just for the Jewish students. I would have to make my own arrangements. With the little bit of money I had that was no problem and I enjoyed to most amazing, eye-opening, spiritually uplifting experience of my life. I didn't know quite what to do. Continue my experience in Israel in the hopes of converting to become a Jew while studying at Ohr Somayach or to return back to Oregon as planned. At the end of the two weeks, exactly one day before my flight would leave I enter into his office. I can never forget the image of his face looking down at some huge sefer on his desk. He looks up at me with that smile that always seemed to be there. "Come in Yonatan".

"Um, Rosh Yeshiva. Tomorrow my flight leaves to return back to the states. I don't know really know what to do."

"How was your time here?" He asks.

I reply, "it was incredible. I had an amazing time with the JLE and everything."

"How were the Shiurim?" He asks me.

"The most amazing teachers and personalities I've ever met."

"And how about Eretz Yisrael? You liked it here?"

"Rosh Yeshiva I loved it."

"Well, Have a great flight back." And here is when his face is buried back into the sefer that he was learning. I remained standing in his office for a few moments feeling quite uncomfortable until finally making the decision that it was time to walk out of his office. On my way out it finally hit me. He had me answer my own question. I had every reason to stay. I never got on that flight. Rav Weinbach quided me through my learning and experience in Yeshiva while trying to convert for years. And I will never forget the day I went to the mikveh. It was so perfectly planned out that the moment I arrived back at yeshiva for the first time as a Yid, there comes Rav Weinbach this tiny little Rabbi to give me the biggest hug I could have ever received. I will never forget it. Nor will I ever forget my Rosh Yeshiva, My teacher, my friend who I miss very much. I hope I will be worthy enough to sit in his shiurim in the next world as I had the greatest honor and pleasure to do in this world.

Yonatan Griffith
5 years ago My son was accepted to Ohr Somayach despite the fact he grew up in an Orthodox home. Kiruv Krovim was somewhat new to Ohr Somayach .Taking one look at my son, the Rosh Yeshiva Ztzl was a bit hesitant in accepting him, but nonetheless he did. My son progressed as a ben torah and his whole tzurah changed. Well it's been quite an aliyah for my son and I owe so much of it to Ohr Somayach. The memory I have of the Rosh Yeshiva Zt'l is what he would say every time he would see my son, "Herschel" you taught me an important lesson, never give up on anybody. Yehi Zichro Boruch
Eliezer Stern
Of course I had heard speeches from Rav Weinbach before, either live or recorded. I had seen him around the Ohr Somayach campus, educating, debating, or just making conversation with the students. But one personal story stands out:

During my second year in the Derech program at Ohr Somayach, Rav Weinbach's brother passed away. Several of my friends and I went with our Rebbe to be menachem avel. We arrived at his home in the Mattersdorf neighborhood of Jerusalem by bus. This was a man who lived simply. His apartment was clean and orderly, but very modestly sized, with little to distinguish it from its neighbors. This was surprising, to say the least: Rav Weinbach was one of small cadre of rabbis that shaped the last four decades of the Jewish nation. He obviously practiced what he preached.

While we were there, before we gave him the customary, May G-d comfort you, an older gentleman was speaking with the Rav about his past. Before that conversation, I did not know that Rav Weinbach was sent away to Yeshiva in New York at a very young age. Was it difficult?, asked the older man. Rav Weinbach nodded his head slowly. If he had been looking my way, he would have seen me nodding along with him. I was also sent away for high school to a Yeshiva out of town. I knew the answer to the old man's question. Going away from home when you are 14 to a new city, to a Yeshiva with standards far higher than anything you've ever experienced before, is difficult. I realized then that Rav Weinbach had probably experienced everything that I had, and like me, it had become a part of him. Made him stronger. More resilient. More independent. Taught him how to deal with frustration, inadequacy, and unfairness. Taught him to try and be someone great.

Judging from my two years at Ohr Somayach, I have no doubt that Rav Weinbach applied all of his life experience to making Ohr Somayach the greatest place it could ever be. My thanks to the Yeshiva, and its outstanding hanhala, for allowing me to give my small voice in this tribute to our Rosh Yeshiva.

Ari Lakritz
When I think about you, Reb Mendel, zt'l, and what you mean to me personally, there is simply too much to write for the space allowed on this page. So I would like to focus on three things I learned from you: first, Hashgachah Pratit, the idea that everything that happens to an individual happens for a reason, even if the reason is not known. To illustrate: The year was 1975. My wife and I were newly married (not yet observant) and came to Israel for a year of study. Someone gave me the name of a rabbi that I should call who would be able to advise me on different options. I called this rabbi but was unable to reach him, so his number went into my pocket for future reference, if needed. I then proceeded to Ohr Somayach because a friend of mine studied there the previous year, so I considered it a place to start my search. I was introduced to someone named Rabbi Weinbach. You told me about the institution and the different learning possibilities available. During our conversation something about your name seemed familiar and I remembered the number in my pocket. Taking it out, I asked, Is this you? Of course it was, and I realized that this was more than a coincidence. I decided to stop my search and thus began my relationship with you.

Second, I learned from you a deeper meaning of gratitude. Today I have the nachas of observant children and grandchildren, some of whom are living in Eretz Yisrael.

Third, I learned from you the idea that when doing for others one should always ask, Did I do enough? After spending a year at Ohr Somayach, my wife and I returned to the US and eventually moved to New Jersey where a friend and I co-founded an adult outreach program that just completed twenty nine years. Of the thousands of students who have passed through this outreach program, hundreds of families today are shomrei mitzvoth with children and grandchildren who learn in yeshivas all over the US and in Israel. Their observant roots go back to you, Reb Mendel. They did not know you nor did you know them, yet these families are also part of your legacy along with the innumerable others whose lives you touched and the generations who will follow. From me and your talmidim, thank you Reb Mendel.

Jeffrey Glazer

Jeffrey Glazer
I arrived at Ohr Somayach in June, 1972, the yeshiva's inaugural year. I was one of Rav Weinbach's first ten talmidim and as an Ohr Somayach staff member for the last forty years, I maintained a constant personal relationship with the Rosh Yeshiva.

The personality of Ohr Somayach and the personality of Rav Weinbach were one and the same. Throughout history, almost all great leaders and personalities have become ensnared by the thirst for power and honor. Rav Weinbach was the opposite. His simplicity and humility were legendary. Rather than chasing after honor, he fled from its enticements. He did not proselytize, he did not engage in polemics. He firmly believed that Torah sold itself. Not pre-packaged superficial Torah ideas, but rigorous, in-depth analysis of the original sources in the original language. The charisma that characterized Ohr Somayach was the charisma of learning, not of personality.

Rav Weinbach always pushed others on the staff to center stage, both in Israel and abroad. But I always appreciated, first as a student, then as a staff member that there was no question, no sugya in Shas, no issue in hashkafa or halacha, and no issue in contemporary society or politics which eluded the Rosh Yeshiva's knowledge and insight. Even with little formal secular education, the Rosh Yeshiva's encyclopedic knowledge of secular wisdom and culture allowed him to relate to all the university-trained students of Ohr Somayach.

Rav Weinbach also personified another characteristic of Torah greatness: the ability to relate to and advise every talmid as a unique individual. Torah is truth, but that truth is multi-dimensional and must fit the individual and his unique circumstances.

In those formative years, we truly felt like sons, not students. There were times when the truth was hard to swallow, when discipline was necessary. Yet we always appreciated the Rosh Yeshiva's commitment to the truth and integrity of the Torah perspective.

Rav Weinbach once told me that no one was irreplaceable. For once, I must disagree. The Rosh Yeshiva will always be remembered, but he will never be replaced.

Rabbi Pinchas Kasnett
My kesher with the Rosh Yeshiva zt'l goes back to my days in Ohr Lagolah. During this time I became very close with the Rosh Yeshiva and he was instrumental in sending me to Melbourne, Australia. There, I joined the local community kollel and 5 years later with the Rosh Yeshiva's guidance I started a small Kehillah for university students and young professionals. Four years ago our kehillah joined forces with the JLC of Sydney (under the auspices of Ohr Somayach) and now is one of the thriving young shuls in Melbourne. This would not have been made possible without the constant support and encouragement of the Rosh Yeshiva.

Over the past 13 years the Rosh Yeshiva has been a guide and mentor for me in every aspect of my professional and personal life. There was no question that was too large or too small. Be it in areas of kiruv, chinuch or just personal growth. He had such chochma; every eitza was so clear and thought out. His advice was always spot on.

I would make an effort to come to Eretz Yisroel to visit the Rosh Yeshiva every couple of years. The purpose of these trips was to get chizuk and recharge my batteries. He would spend 3-4 hours a day learning with me during those visits. On one occasion he had just gone through a series of treatment and was very weak, but he knew how much our learning meant to me and therefore pushed himself to be there. How I cherish those times I spent with him.

What a loss Rav Mendel's petirah is for all Klal Yisroel, but in particular for all those who had the privilege of knowing this godol.

I felt he took such an interest and pride in everything that I did. I cannot start to express the hakoras hatov that I have for all that he has done for me.

My tefillah is that together with all his precious talmidim, we should be zoche to continue the harbotzas hatorah that he so passionately lived for. Yehi Zichro Boruch

Arieh Berlin, Melbourne, Australia

Arieh Berlin
I remember when HaRav Weinbach told us (JLE 2006) a story, about when he was growing up in Pittsburgh. The story was about Simchas Torah, and that same year the Pirates were in the world series. I remember that he spoke with such emotion. All of the Jews were in the streets dancing with the Torahs, when the Priates won the World Series and as all of the Pirate fans started to storm the streets to celebrate, they came face to face with the Jews celebrating Simchas Torah. The non-Jewish Pirates fans exclaimed 'Everybody's a Pirates fan'. This was a story which I spoke to HaRav Weinbach about 6 years later when I returned to Ohr Somayach and he still had the way of speaking... with real emotion.
Isaiah Scoufield
I remember how the Rosh Yeshiva ZTL would learn with anyone that asked. We had a few Derech boys that had the "guts" to ask the Rosh Yeshiva, and he found tme for everyone of them. His constant radiant smile was always so warming as well
Yitzchok Friedman
When I was a newcomer to Ohr Somayach in Elul 1975 and was just getting orientated... I remember an elder bochur who had taken me under his wing discussing with me the time-honored tradition of yeshiva students everywhere, resolving the query of "who's the biggest gadol b'torah we have here?" Unequivocally he answered Rav Mendel and illustrated this with a story from the then just-concluded summer zman. He said he had witnessed this himself.

One day a group of top rabbis were all locked onto a difficult point in the sugya of the Gemara at hand ... no one seemed to know how to unravel a rather sticky problem when Rav Mendel came up the stairs from the ground floor office of the Tidhar Street Beit Medresh to look for a bochur who had just received a phone call from the States from his parents.

As Rav Mendel was scanning the room, allowing his finger tips to do the walking, one of the rabbis leaned over and asked him the group's kasha and without even taking his eyes off from what he was doing Rav Mendel responded with a few words which sent all of the rabbis reeling, some smacking their foreheads with the palms of their hands. My new friend quipped to me that that had sufficiently settled the question for him once and for all.

I recall being at Rav Mendel's table on the morning of Purim during the year the Weinbachs spent in Zichron Yaakov. The discussion was about new arrivals to the yeshiva and how they often reacted negatively to any Torah learning that highlighted the different status of Jews and gentiles . I remember him stating that after a while they grew out of it. Not because of any basic change yet in their American-influenced education, upbringing and outlook but by virtue of the fact that over the span of time spent in the yeshiva they began to appreciate what a Jew really is for the first time in their lives and this altered their perception of the rectitude of those passages in Mishnayot or wherever.

The last year I was in the yeshiva, '79-'80, the Mir Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz, zt"l passed away the day after chanukah. I can still see Rav Mendel standing there in front of the Beis Medrish and making the announcement after shachrit of Rav Shmuelevitz 's petira. Classes were suspended so that we could all attend the levaya. He concluded his remarks by saying to us, "today you will learn what happens when a gadol hador dies." Those words still echo in my mind many years later. How ironically fitting therefore that almost 33 years later to the day the same announcement was made in the same Beis Medrish for our Rosh Yeshiva. I am certain that more than one of the maspidim mentioned him in terms of one of the gedolei hador. "Who is honored? Those who honor others." Another fitting tribute for a man known by so many simply as Rav Mendel.

Rav Mendel was so much more than a Rosh Yeshiva. He was our father. For you were and are the ones who brought us to Torah and to Hashem and without you we would never have made the connection to our true family heritage and roots."

Rav Mendel was a patriarch of the unbelievable and unprecedented phenomenon in Jewish history known as "the ba'al teshuvah movement.

As Yaakov Avinu lay breathing his last in this week's parsha Vayechi, just as he was comforted by the Shma Yisroel that all of his sons rang out together in unison which so convinced Yaakov of the satisfactory conclusion to his own life and of the certainty of the eventual and ultimate blessed outcome of the history of his family in this world, so too as Rav Mendel wends his way upward to take his rightful place in the yeshiva shel ma'alah and goes on to his inestimable eternal reward in gan eden. Every line of Torah we learn, every prayer we daven, every mitzvah we perform, goes with him. For surely they are all his. Ad bias goel tzedek - until the advent of moshiach tzidkenu and binyan bayis shlishi, amen.

Moshe Parry
It was 36 years ago when I first experienced a 'Rav Mendel shiur.' I was newly arrived from the Kibbutz experience, and willing to taste some Judaism before I headed off to Europe and back to the USA. It was a talmud class on tractate Kiddushin, and the topic was honoring your father and mother. The lesson was about gratitude, eternal values, and the challenges of fulfilling duties, even when the people we honor act unworthy, or circumstances provide a special opportunity that might cause us to think that we can overlook the duty to honor. It was an engaging discussion, exemplified by a thoughtful, sensitive, and provocative give and take. Rav Mendel's soft skreetchy voice penetrating the issue from all sides.

It wasn't long before Rav Mendel challenged us with the "button" choice. If we could freeze ourselves in any moment for eternity by just pressing a special button, when would we press it? Would we wait until we were happy, or wealthy, or after some special experience like getting married, having a child, or....? Would we always think that maybe the future will hold a better moment, something more, that things were still incomplete, and premature to "press the button"? He waited for our replies, would we, could we; can the eternity of any moment be comprehended, justified, or accepted as the only everlasting reality? Yet, Rav Mendel would look at us and loudly claim, I would press the button now, when I'm teaching Torah, giving shiur, for that is the moment worthy of eternity. Wow, it wasn't too difficult to understand that to him, this was the most important activity of his life. It made learning from him a special and wonderful experience; he was always on the line. Yet, the intensity wasn't confrontational, it wasn't pushy, no, it was revelation, we were headed to greater clarity.

I sometimes think about his Tisha b'Av shmus: The great artist who painted his masterpiece on the plateau of a mountain. After completing his painting of the beauty surrounding the mountain peak, the artist gazed at his work with tremendous pride and satisfaction. He took a step back to admire its wonder amidst the surroundings. Then, he took another step back to have greater comparative appreciation. Then another step back as he became intoxicated by the combined beauty. His assistant saw that he had backed himself nearly to the edge of the plateau and called to him to stop. Unfortunately, he was entranced and he was oblivious to the warnings. Too far to reach him, the assistant hit the painting, stopping the artist in his tracks, as he began to fill with rage. At that moment he looked around and discovered he was at the very edge of the plateau, within one step of plunging to his death.

We were intoxicated by the presence of our Temple, we were oblivious to the warnings of our prophets, and the destruction shocked us out of our state of taking for granted our deservedness, our lack of total engagement with Torah and mitzvoth, our self-intoxication. Yet, the destruction was of the stones of His house, not of His people, for the road back through teshuvah was still possible.

When we played ball, Rav Mendel was out there at shortstop, second base, and always encouraging us to play better, smarter, and have fun.

When we faced challenges as individuals, or as a student body, Rav Mendel was there to cheer our efforts on to solve the difficulties, giving us insightful perspectives, words of hashkafa, joining the effort as a teacher, a mentor, and a friend.

We had several extensive discussions about some of my life decisions; returning to America, coming to New York; helping to establish the Monsey yeshiva; doing Jewish historical research; going out into the technology profession; He always offered sound advice.

At one of our alumni gatherings in Brooklyn he recalled a lesson he received from Rav Simcha Wasserman back in the days when he joined other Torah Vodaas students starting a program in Los Angeles under Rav Simcha. He spoke of the types of Jews and Judaism they found out west. They were new and improved, like the plastic potato. It looked like a potato, smelled like a potato, even tasted like a potato, but it didn't rot, it didn't spoil, it was new and improved. Really the only significant difference between it and a real potato was that when you planted a plastic potato, it didn't grow, it couldn't reproduce, it was sterile. He warned us that continuity was a special blessing.

We will all miss our Rebbe, Rav Mendel. To us he's still giving shiur, and always will.

Dovid Gedaliah Romand
How fortunate I was to have been a talmid of Ohr Somayach. How precious now are the memories I have of Rav Weinbach showing his concern, reminding me that by learning Torah we were keeping the world going; appearing as if by miracle at my sheva berachos in Baltimore. My brother told me that he struggled to keep pace with the Rosh Yeshiva as he hiked with his usual energy from one part of town to another. I remember that energy! And also the time when Rav Weinbach took over for Rav Pindrus's shiur and what a contrast his soaring tenor was to the accustomed bass! Now it seems, with the outpouring of memories from so many people, the curtain is revealed a bit more and I am one of thousands of talmidim who can say they had a personal connection to this wonderful man. His memory is already a blessing!
Betzalel Anflick
We do not realize who we have lost. This was a spiritual earthquake. We all need to do serious teshuva and try to fill the massive spiritual vacuum that was just left behind.
Avraham Shusteris
Rav Weinbach zt"l was one of the wisest, strongest, and humblest men I have ever met. About twenty five years ago he helped me through a very confusing and devastating time in my life, with wisdom, concern, and strength. After leaving Ohr Somayach I would correspond in writing with Rav Weinbach zt"l, I always wanted to receive his correspondence, with great anticipation of his wisdom. As years progressed, anytime I could access a Jewish Press, I would look for David's Sling Shot.

May Hashem comfort you among all the mourners in Jerusalem

vj hirsch

hirschvj@aol.com

Ohr Somayach 1989-1990

vj hirsch
It was my third year in yeshivas Ohr Somayach and I had decided it was time to start dating but I had a problem. I had always gone by my English name Josh and thought, that because I had become religious, I needed to change it to its Hebrew counterpart - Yehoshua. But I was bothered by this. I liked my English name and was not so excited about changing it so, I went to speak to the Rosh Yeshiva, Rav. Weinbach. As I entered his office and spoke over my issue, he took off his glasses, closed his eyes and said, "You're Josh - That's who you are." Without any further conversation, I realized the important lesson the Rosh Yeshiva taught me, that its not the name that defines who you are, but its your actions that define your name. Thank you Rav. Weinbach.
Josh Garbarsky
Although I always had a relationship with Reb Mendel zt"l throughout my years in Yeshiva, the true import of our kesher did not hit home until his unfortunate passing. But one memory sticks out far above the others and it wasn't even in the Yeshiva.

Unfortunately, my wife and I just suffered a loss, a late-term miscarriage and we were stuck in the hospital waiting for the staff to take care of it, with all of the ramifications. However, the hospital, with one of the busiest maternity wards in the world, taking care of a miscarriage was not on the highest of priorities, and we were stuck waiting in limbo for a very long time. As you can imagine we were not in the greatest of spirits.

As I left the ward for a breather, who did I run into? None other than The Rosh Yeshiva, Reb Mendel, who was leaving the oncology ward after another of his excruciating treatments, being supported by several of his children. He stopped and asked me what I was doing there. I replied that unfortunately we were holed up in the maternity ward (which interestingly was next to the oncology ward) not for reasons of simcha. The Rosh Yeshiva looked stunned for a second and then replied with his loving fatherly gaze - 'HaMakom Yimalei Chesroncha!'

I literally felt that he was actually sharing in my pain. Even after he left I could still feel the compassion and warmth he exuded. I knew that I was not special in this regard, nor that it was reserved exclusively for me, but his fatherly concern was for all of his talmidim.

May his memory be blessed!

YBS

© Ohr Somayach International
Ohr Somayach International is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation (letter on file) and your donation is tax deductable.