Harav Chai Yitzchok Twersky, the Rachmastrivka Rebbe of Boro Park, the most elder Admur of the generation, who had a unique yechidus with the Rebbe before his wedding, passed away.
By Hershel Rosenbluh and Anash.org Staff
Harav Chai Yitzchok Twersky, the Rachmastrivka Rebbe of Boro Park, the most elder Admur of the generation, who was renowned across the globe, passed away.
He was 92 years old.
Born in Yerushalyim to his father Harav Yochanon Twersky, then son of the Rachmastrivka Rebbe Harav Dovid Twersky, and Esther Rivkah (Wilhelm) in 5691 (1931). He was an great-grandson of Harav Yisroel Shimon Shain of Yerushalayim, a Lubavitcher chossid from Mohilev, Russia, who settled in Yerushalayim in 5630 – 1870.
After a childhood illness that almost took his life, he miraculously recovered and has the name Chai added to his name. Rav Chai Yitzchok later married the daughter of Harav Yakov Yosef Twersky of Skver in 5714 – 1954 and settled in New York. Before his chasunah he merited to have a lengthy yechidus with the Rebbe, the details of which he repeated to his nephew, Rabbi Nachman Yosef Twersky of Crown Heights. (See video below.)
Reb Chai Yitzchok was accompained by his father Reb Yochanan, whom knew the Rebbe from his youth, when he had been involved in an underground cheder in Nikolayev.
At the yechidus the Rebbe mentioned a particular student from that cheder who had since immigrated to the United States, where he left the path of Torah. The Rebbe added that Lubavitcher chassidim had tried to bring him back but to no avail, and perhaps he would be able to influence him. Then and there, the Rebbe picked up the phone and dialed the man’s number. “I have Rabbi Yochanan Twersky sitting here. Do you remember him? He is interested in meeting with you. When can you meet?”
On Friday afternoon, as arranged, the former student and the Rachmistrivka Rebbe met, and after exchanging reminiscences, the man offered him a generous check. To his surprise, the Rachmistrivka Rebbe declared, “I won’t accept a check until we discuss your Yiddishkeit.” The man protested that he was a respected member of his Jewish community and even went to shul occasionally. However, it soon became apparent that he did not observe even the basics of Yiddishkeit.
Reb Yochanan’s eyes filled with tears. “Was it for a ‘Yiddishkeit’ like this that we invested so much effort in you in the chadorim in Nikolayev? Each of your teachers put his life in danger – and for what? So you would grow up to be a yerei Shamayim and a frum Yid. Just look how far you’ve strayed . . . .” The man was moved, and resolved to do teshuva and begin observing mitzvos.
He again tried to present the check, but again Reb Yochanan insisted: “I will accept it only after I find out that you have kept your word and have done teshuva. And how will I know when I don’t live here?” He then answered his own question, “When the Lubavitcher Rebbe tells me that you did teshuva, only then will I accept your donation.”
During his remaining few weeks in New York, the Rachmistrivka Rebbe received many people who came to him for brachos and advice. One day, the phone rang at his host’s house and the Rachmistrivka Rebbetzin answered. The voice on the line asked to speak with Rabbi Twersky.
“Who’s speaking?” she asked. “Doh ret-men fun Lubavitch (I’m calling from Lubavitch).” Realizing it was the Lubavitcher Rebbe, she excitedly gave the phone to her husband, who was happy to hear the Rebbe’s update: their former student had indeed begun to observe mitzvos.
“Reb Yochanan,” the Rebbe added, “you think you came here in order to marry off your son? You came here so that a Yid would do teshuva. Now this man is frum!”
In 5742 – 1982, after the passing of his father, the Rachmastrivka Rebbe, he was appointed as the Rebbe in New York despite adamantly not wanting to. He later opened a shul on 45th Street in Boro Park. Over the years his shul and mosdos attracted many thousands to his simple and sincere derech in avodas Hashem.
Rav Itzikel, as he was known, kept in close contact with his cousins the Wilhelm family from Eretz Yisroel and Crown Heights, joining their simchas and often even wearing his bigdei Shabbos to the weddings.
In recent years he had become weak, until he passed away today, Erev Rosh Chodesh Elul, 5 days before his 92nd birthday.
The Levaya will take place today, Wednesday, in Boro Park with kevurah the Har Shalom cemetery in Airmont (Monsey).
Baruch Dayan HaEmes.
VIDEO: Rabbi Nachamn Yosef Twersky relates what happened at his uncle’s yechidus with the Rebbe.
Photos courtesy of וילהלמ’ס Whatsapp