Rabbi Zirkind Shunned Laziness and Shortcuts in Yiddishkeit

In honor of his 10th yahrtzeit, a student of Rabbi Eliezer Zirkind shares his impressions of a man whose life revolved around boundless love for Torah, and disdained shortcuts of any kind. A collection of piskei halacha by Rabbi Zirkind was also released.

By Rabbi Yoni Helman

Rabbi Zirkind epitomized dedication as an עובד השי”ת, shunning laziness and shortcuts in Yiddishkeit. His life revolved around boundless love for Torah, striving not only to acquire knowledge but also to enhance his ‘עבודת ה’ with additional הידורים and חומרות.

While stringent on himself, for others he sought היתרים and leniencies that other Rabbanim may not have been able to shoulder. He valued proper execution over financial gain, often telling clients, “You owe it to your customers.”

Proficient in the basics of Torah; Shchita, Safrus, Milah, Matzah baking, etc., as well as tailoring and winemaking, he pursued mastery relentlessly, saying that the five-year training period for לויים is only applicable if you give it your all, but if you don’t, then after five years, you cannot say that the matter is unachievable.

“How can you be a Sofer in Lubavitch without being well-versed in שו”ת צמח צדק?!” In the 48 years Rabbi Zirkind taught us, we studied countless times: שו”ע אדמוה”ז הל’ תפילין, שו”ת צמח צדק עניני סת”ם, טור, שו”ע מחבר, משנה ברורה, קסת הסופר.

Rabbi Zirkind’s Safrus classes welcomed the public, including Sofrim, Rabbonim (including those from our Badatz), and all interested individuals. Conducted primarily in English, with occasional sessions in Yiddish, Rabbi Zirkind infused his teaching with stories and humor to enhance the learning experience. He engaged participants with questions spanning Halacha and seamlessly cited sources from various authors and texts, showcasing his extensive knowledge. Rabbi Zirkind encouraged students to verify information independently (“look it up”) and diligently addressed any queries or concerns, ensuring clarity and depth in each lesson. Periodically, he also explored Hashkafa to reinforce focus and spiritual understanding.

Rabbi Zirkind fully embraced the axiom “מה אני בחנם אף אתם בחינם,” educating many students without charging for his classes on STa”M mechanics, Shchitah, Milah, or other trades, in line with Chachomim’s directive and Hashem’s free impartation of Torah. Beyond quoting Gemara and Shulchan Aruch, he delved into Kabbalistic texts, Chassidic teachings, and Igros Kodesh, impressing Rabbonim with his vast knowledge and instant recall of Teshuvos. While acknowledging that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, Rabbi Zirkind grounded his views in Torah sources, often humbly remarking, “I am just a parrot, repeating what the Seforim say.”

Rabbi Zirkind, renowned in Safrus, was noted for his leniency, striving to validate STa”M as Kosher wherever feasible, citing sources cautioning against unnecessarily placing STa”M in גניזה. He stressed accountability for each piece, emphasizing the need to justify why it wasn’t used in קדושה. This principle was central in his teachings, mirrored in his own practices and guidance to students.

In honor of R’ Zirkind’s 10th Yartzeit, the Igud Kosvei Stam of Crown Heights has released

לקוטי פסקי דינים בעניני סת”ם מאיגוד כותבי סת”ם אנ”ש דקראון הייטס has been printed.

Click here to download.

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