He Pursued Truth, Not Popularity

Rabbi Yosef Marlow, Rov of Anash in North Miami Beach Florida, shares special memories and unique qualities of his father, the unforgettable Crown Heights Rov, Harav Yehuda Kalman Marlow a”h.

As told to Anash.org by Rabbi Yosef Marlow

In connection with my father’s 20th yahrtzeit, I will share some of his unique qualities.

My father was known for his singular dedication to Torah and Halacha, not looking to gain popularity. When it came to psak halacha and dinei torah, he said whatever he thought was the truth, whether it was popular or not. Public opinion did not direct his life. His life was directed by Torah, Halacha, Yiras Shmayim, Chassidus and the Rebbe’s kavana.

He was extremely humble and discreet (hatzneia leches), not caring that people should know the good things that he did. He regularly distributed tzedaka for community members in a secretive manner. For the sake of peace, he would often compromise, and let others be the winners.

His community service was purposeful and private. He never shared at home any dinei torah that he was participated in or any issues he was involved in. He didn’t discuss politics and he never tried to gather people to support his cause. Even if someone attacked him, he would not talk about it.

My father was exceptionally honest in financial matters, making sure to pay every bill or obligation and not doing any tricks.

One community member would give him a large check every year before Pesach as a means of supporting his Torah study and community service. But when my father began giving a hashgacha at that person’s company, he discontinued cashing those checks so that it would not blur his judgement and he could be entirely neutral on that company’s kashrus.  

Many people saw him davening at a relatively late hour in 770, and those who looked at it superficially, figured that he was relaxed about davening. However, others who paid close attention, would notice him walking home at 1-2 AM after hours in his office dealing with community issues. At 7 am, he would go to the mikva, and then return home where he would learn for several hours. In his characteristic style, he didn’t explain his late davening, and only those who paid close attention understood what lay behind it.

Every morning, he would put on tefillin to recite krias shma before davening, and then he would drink a coffee. That was all that entered his mouth until after he finished his learning and davening at midday. 

Shulchan Aruch was his life and he knew it thoroughly.

During the days before Pesach, he would lie down to rest from the workload. While resting he would call me in and ask me to quiz him on Hilchos Pesach. I would take the index prepared by Harav Avrohom Dovid Lavut, the Rebbe’s grandfather, and I would read an entry and he would tell me exactly where it was discussed in Shulchan Aruch, or I would tell him the siman and s’if and he would say what was discussed there. 

My father was sharp, and he had a sense of humor. He would often look at a challenging situation with wry, which helped him get through the challenges that he encountered. When he would share his perspective, it was quite amusing.

This is just one example of his sharp wit.

In the 1980’s, under Communist Russia, some bochurim who were visiting Russia had a shaila about a mikva there, so they scheduled an international call to my father when they hoped that he would be in the office. When my father picked up the phone, they proceeded to ask him their question without explicitly sharing the facts. So instead of talking about a mikvah, they asked a question about a “Union and Albany.” My father understood the shailah, and immediately responded, “FDR is matir bdieved,” referring to Harav Moshe Feinstein whose yeshiva was located on the FDR Drive in Manhattan. 

May my father’s qualities serve as an inspiration to us, and may we speedily be reunited with him, and the Rebbe, with the coming of Moshiach.

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