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Section: Stories   Category: Gedolim Biographies
The Sridei Aish Rav Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg - Berlin is Berlin and Munkacs is Munkacs
Born in Poland, he came of age in Slabodka, was the leading Germanposek and head of the Hildesheimer Rabbinic seminary, and got alongfamously with the Minchas Elazar of Munkacs and the Gerer Rebbe.  Thisis the description of the great Rav Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg whose lifecrossed lines within the spectrum of orthodox Jewry as well as twoworld wars.

Rav Yechiel Yaakov was born in Poland in 1878.  As a child, his greathead for torah was discovered by Rav Elya Boruch Kammai, the Rov of thetown where he lived.  When Rav Elya Boruch was invited to become RoshYeshiva of the Mir he took along the young Rav Yechiel Yaakov withhim.  After a short period where he gained notoriety as an illuy, RavYechiel Yaakov went to learn in Slabodka, the crown jewel of theYeshiva world after the closing of Volozhin by the Russian government. He quickly became a star there as well and was the apple of  the Alterof Slabodka, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel's eye.  When Rav Naftali Amsterdam,one of the leading talmidim of Rav Yisroel Salanter, came to Slabodka,Rav Yechiel Yaakov was given the honor to be his chavrusa for hisMotza'ei Shabbos study of Ketzos HaChoshen, a custom initiated by RavYisroel Salanter.  Rav Yechiel Yaakov also was privileged on a fewoccasions to spend time with Rav Yisroel Salanter's close talmid, RavItzele Blazer.

Rav Yechiel Yaakov eventually was sent back to the Mir by the Alter ofSlabodka to help lead mussar seder, and he learned b'chavrusa with theAlter's son and Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Lazer Yudel.  He became Rov inPilwishki and remained there for seven years.  At the outbreak of WorldWar I he went to Germany where he studied at the University of Giessenand earned his Doctorate.  Armed with his incredible torah knowledgefrom Lithuania and his PHD, he became the head of the HildesheimerRabbinic Seminary in Berlin, started by the great Rav EzrielHildesheimer talmid of the Aruch LaNer. 

Despitethe more liberal leanings of the German derech compared to eastern European Torah Jewry, RavYechiel Yaakov maintained close ties with many of the gedolim form hisgeneration including the fiery Kana'i the Minchas Elazar who whenquestioned about his respect for Rav Yechiel Yaakov said, Berlin isBerlin and Munkacs is Munkacs.  He halachic opinion was highly regardedby the Chazon Ish and Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinsky held him in highesteem.  Rav Elchonon Wasserman once visited Berlin and gave a Shiur atthe seminary.

Before World War II, Rav Yechiel Yaakov becameterribly weak and feeble after an operation gone awry.  Rav YechielYaakov managed to survive the war and moved to Montreux,Switzerland where he had a Yeshiva and spent the last twenty years ofhis life.  His halachic opinion was sought from all over the world. His Sefer of Tshuvos, Sridei Aish was reprinted with haskamos from RavShlomo Zalman Auerbach and ybcl"c Rav Elyashiv Shlit"a.  He was Niftar4 Shevat, 5726/1966.  Yehi Zichro Boruch!
RELATED ARTICLES:Hildesheimer Rabbinic Seminary  Minchas Elazar  Montreux, Switzerland  Rav Shamshon Refoel Hirsch  Rav Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg  Sridei Aish  Yeshivas Slabodka

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