Jerusalem – Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, the Rosh Yeshiva of Mattersdorf prominent Yeshiva Torah Ore, one of Kiryat Mattersdorf’s most highly regarded Rabbonim, and a member of Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah, who was renowned for wearing dozens of pairs of tzitzis passed away this afternoon Sha’arei Tzedek hospital, at the age of one hundred and one.
R’ Scheinberg who was born in Ostrov, Poland to his parents, R’ Yaakov Yitzchok and Yosefa in 1910, spent the first nine years of his life not knowing his father who had gone to America to avoid the Polish draft. R’ Yaakov Yitzchok lost countless jobs due to his refusal to work on Shabbos and became so destitute he slept alongside the FDR Drive with only a blanket, a pillow and an umbrella, while his wife earned money milking cows at dawn for Polish farmers, using some of her wages to hire a melamed for her son Chaim who, even at a young age, already displayed an incredible aptitude for limud Torah. While the family lost contact during World War I, they managed to reconnect after the war and by 1919 R’ Yaakov Yitzchak had opened a tailor shop and was able to bring his wife and two sons to America.
R’ Scheinberg lived as a child on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, first attending public school, then enrolling in the Rabbi Jacob Joseph School for several years. R’ Scheinberg was invited by Rabbi Yaakov Yosef Herman, a pioneer of Torah Judaism in the early 1900’s who was profiled in the book All For The Boss, to transfer to R’ Yehuda Heschel Levenberg’s New Haven yeshiva, Beis Medrash LeRabonim, which taught only limudei Kodesh. By the time R’ Scheinberg left the yeshiva two and a half years later, not only was he known as a masmid, he had already finished all of Shas.
R’ Scheinberg continued his learning at Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary where he learned under R’ Shlomo Polachek, R’ Moshe Soleveichik and R’ Shimon Shkop and his chavrusas included R’ Avigdor Miller, R’ Moshe Bick, R’ Mordechai Gifter and R’ Nosson Meir Wachtfogel.
At age nineteen, R’ Scheinberg married R’ Herman’s daughter Basha, a shidduch that R’ Herman had already decided was appropriate some five years earlier, receiving semicha from his Roshei Yeshiva on the day of his wedding. The young couple spent the next five years living next door to the Mirrer Yeshiva in Poland, where they were among just a handful of Americans who were willing to live in abject poverty, with no running water and minimal heat, in order to study at the prestigious yeshiva. R’ Scheinberg also learned at the Kaminetz yeshiva, receiving semicha in Yoreh Deah from R’ Boruch Ber Leibowitz who had also signed on his tenoim a few years earlier.
R’ Scheinberg was known to have told of two personal meetings with the Chofetz Chaim. The first took place when R’ Scheinberg sought advice on traveling to Poland to learn at the Mir after his marriage and after the Chofetz Chaim replied in the affirmative, R’ Scheinberg was said to have felt the Chofetz Chaim’s eyes wishing him continued success in his learning while he was at the Mir. A second meeting took place when R’ Scheinberg was sent to the elderly Chofetz Chaim to obtain a bracha for someone else. R’ Scheinberg recalled that the Chofetz Chaim had difficulty hearing and the gabbaim used to speak to him through a special horn that was placed in his ear. During that audience the gabbaim announced to the Chofetz Chaim that the young avreich had come all the way from America to learn Torah in the Mir in the hopes that this would inspire the Chofetz Chaim to give R’ Scheinberg a bracha to as well. The Chofetz Chaim responded “So? Didn’t Hakadosh Baruch Hu come all the way from the heavens to the earth in order to give us the holy Torah? What is the chidush that an avreich traveled a short distance from America to Europe to receive the Torah?” R’ Scheinberg recalled stunned silence in the room until the Chofetz Chaim continued, “It says in Sefer Devorim that Moshe Rabbeinu did not eat or drink for forty days until he finally received the Torah on Har Sinai and the Medrash Rabba explains that Moshe Rabbeinu subsisted on the Kedusha and Ruchniyus of the Torah. In that case, we learn it is good to be hungry for the Torah,” and only after these words did the Chofetz Chaim give R’ Scheinberg a bracha.
Below video in 2008 Rav Sheinberg pay a Shivah call to Rav Ovadia Yosef.
By 1935 the Scheinberg family returned to America to prevent R’ Scheinberg’s American citizenship from expiring after spending more than five years overseas and R’ Scheinberg’s first position in America was as a Maggid Shiur in his former place of study, New Haven’s Beis Medrash LeRabonim, until the yeshiva relocated to Cleveland in 1930. R’ Scheinberg became the Mashgiach Ruchani in Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim, a position he held for twenty five years. R’ Scheinberg was known for his exemplary warmth towards his students and despite the size of their small apartment, the Scheinbergs’ hachnasas orchim was legendary. R’ Scheinberg also become the Rov of Congregation Bakeish Sholom Anshei Ostrov on the Lower East side where he gave shiurim as well.
R’ Scheinberg opened Yeshiva Torah Ore in Bensonhurst in 1960, with the help of his brother, R’ Shmuel Scheinberg and his son in law, R’ Chaim Dov Altusky. While the yeshiva originally opened with only six talmidim, enrollment grew steadily and the Scheinbergs lavished exceptional care upon their students, many of whom were Sefradim, paying their medical bills and raising money to marry them off.
Video below Rav Sheinberg speaks about his visit with the Chofitz Chaim
The Scheinbergs and many of their talmidim moved to the newly developed Kiryat Mattersdorf in 1965 and Yeshiva Torah Ore was re-established in Givat Shaul. While many Americans headed home during the Six Day War in 1967 none of Torah Ore’s American students left the yeshiva and R’ Scheinberg stayed in the bomb shelter with his talmidim. The yeshiva moved to its present location in Kiryat Mattersdorf in 1971.
The Scheinberg home became a popular destination for Americans in Israel who sought advice and brachos from the renowned Rov who was known for his unique custom of wearing dozens of pairs of tzitzis. At one point it was estimated that R’ Scheinberg wore approximately one hundred and fifty pairs of tzitzis which according to an article in Mishpacha Magazine he described as “fifteen to twenty kilo of mitzvos”.
There are many opinions as to the source for R’ Scheinberg’s unusual minhag. Some say the custom began as a zechus for R’ Scheinberg’s daughter who was will, others say that it was to fulfill all possible opinions regarding Hilchos Tzitzis, while yet others believe that R’ Scheinberg wore the multiple garments to fulfill the mitzvah of tzitzis for those who were lax on this particular halacha. According to R’ Scheinberg’s grandson, there was no set number of tzitzis that R’ Scheinberg wore; he donned as many pair as he could saying that each pair of tzitzis was a mitzvah of its own. In his later years, poor health forced R’ Scheinberg to reduce the number of tzitzis he wore by about fifty percent.
R’ Scheinberg was known for his diligent learning, spending literally every waking moment, from the early morning until late at night, immersed in learning, including the time he spent walking or driving to yeshiva. R’ Asa Wittow, R’ Scheinberg’s driver and one of his original talmidim in Torah Ore reported that R’ Scheinberg kept a Mishna Brura propped open on the shelf above his kitchen sink so that he could learn even while washing dishes.
R’ Scheinberg was known to take a Gemara Nidda with him on fundraising trips to America and tried to learn the entire seventy two page Masechta during his flight. At one point when asked how many times he had completed Shas R’ Scheinberg quietly replied, “all I can say is that I have finished learning Maseches Nidda over one hundred and twenty times.”
R’ Scheinberg was also known for his hakpada of davening for the amud three times a day, seven days a week, to serve as an example for how the davening should be conducted in the yeshiva and it is said that during every tefilla R’ Scheinberg would break down in tears every time he uttered certain words during Shemone Esrai including “Refaenu”, “Shema Koleinu”, “U’mayvi Goel L’vnei Vneihem” and “V’liYerushalyim Ircha.” R’ Scheinberg always acknowledged his wife as an equal partner in his learning, giving up his seat for her when she came to the yeshiva saying “Basha, this seat belongs to you.”
Rebbetzin Scheinberg passed away at age 96 in 2009 after a long illness. The Scheinbergs had five children: Rebbetzin Fruma Rochel Altusky, Rebbetzin Rivka Rosengarten, Rebbetzin Chana Weiner, Rebbetzin Zelda Altusky yblc’t, wife of R’ Nissan Alpert zt’l, and R’ Simcha and also raised a niece, Rivky Kaufman after her mother died in 1938.
R’ Scheinberg authored several seforim including Derech Emunah Ubitachon, Tabaas Hachoshen , Igra D’shmatata, Miluyei Even, Mishmeres Chaim, Chiddushei V’Shiurei Rav Chaim Pinchas, Nesivos Chaim, which was translated into English as The Torah Way of Life and Heart to Heart Talks: Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg Lectures to Women.