Levaya of Hagoan Rav Dovid Feinstein Zt"l
We are saddened to inform the community of the petira of Hagoan Rav Dovid Feinstein, zt”l, who was considered the American Posek Hador, and has served as the Rosh Yeshiva of Mesivta Tifereth Yerushalayim in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, since the petira of his father Hagoan Rav Moshe Feinstein in 1986.
After, unfortunately, suffering from poor health and feeling weak for months, Rav Feinstein, zt”l, who was 91, was niftar Friday afternoon.
Rav Feinstein, zt”l, who was the oldest son of Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, and Shima Feinstein, was described by all as “unassuming and humble.”
In addition to running for 34 years Mesivta Tifereth Yerhushalyim, the yeshiva built by father, Rav Dovid Feinstein also, for years, published many clarifications and modifications to Igres Moshe, the teshuvas of his father.
Rav Feinstein’s brother Reuven, Feinstein, is the rosh yeshiva of the Yeshiva of Staten Island.
Born in 1929 in Lyuban, Belarus, where his father was a rabbi, when Rav Feinstein was eight, his family moved to the Lower East Side, where he lived for the rest of his life.
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein and his wife Shima named their bechor David after Rav Moshe’s father, Rav Dovid, who was a renowned Talmid Chacham and a descendant of Rabbi Avraham, the brother of the Gaon of Vilna.
A tzaddik since his youth, Rav Feinstein felt that since he was born during the week of Parshas Korach, that he has come into the world to repair the sin of loshon hara. So, on his bar mitzvah, Rav Feinstein decided to speak infrequently, and he often remained silent. The Satmar Rebbe, who came to console Rav Feinstein after the death of his sister, memorably said that “from Rabbi David’s silence I can learn more than any mussar speech I heard in my life.”
One balabus who for three years, took the subway from Boro Park to the Lower East Side to join between 40 and 60 men at Rav Feinstein’s 11am to 12pm Friday Chumash with Rashi shiur, described the shiur as having a “very special aura, like a feeling of Gan Eden”
“He was very calm, very articulate in his thoughts,” said the balabus, who said that although the shiur was excellent, it was the calm humility of the Rav that brought him back each week. “The shiur was a very, very good place to be. It was like the whole world was shut out.”
Rabbi Feinstein’s talmidim also liked that such a variety of people came from all over to attend his shiurim.
“You had white hatters, black hatters, Chassidim, Litvish, and professionals,” said the balabus, who added with a laugh that he remembered that the videographer who recorded the shiur wasn’t Jewish, “but he enjoyed the shiur as well.”
Right after the shiur, everyone would rush right up to Rabbi Feinstein to ask shilas or get brachos, the balabus warmly remembered.
One man, for instance, asked on what hand his son, whose bar mitzvah was coming up, should put his tefillin, as the son was ambidextrous, and had no dominant hand.
“Rav Feinstein told the man to put a hammer in the boy’s hand and to see which one he used to pound in nail, and then for the boy to use that hand for his tefillin,” the balabus explained.
Another Yid who attended the same shiur described Rav Feinstein as “a very special person, extremely humble, and his Torah knowledge was exemplary. He had thousands of talmidim and followers.”
The Rosh Yeshiva, his talmid said, “had an incredible ability to analyze the pesukim and carve of the most beautiful peshatim and derive practical lessons.”
In addition to running a yeshiva, teaching shiurim on Halacha, Gemara, and Parsha, and answering Yidden’s phone calls day and night with halachic questions, Rav Feinstein also wrote many teshuvas and nine Artscroll seforim, such as The Jewish Calendar: Its Structure and Laws, The Laws of the Seder, Haggadah Anah Dodi, Seasonings of The Torah, Kol Dodi on Megillas Esther, Kol Dodi on Megillas Rus, Kol Dodi on the Haftorahs, Kol Dodi on Torah, and Hagadah Kol Dodi.
Despite the prolific nature of Rav Feinstein, who was also a member of the Agudath Yisrael’s Council of Torah Sages, his humility was evident as he never wanted to put his name on the covers of his seforim.
In fact, the title קול דודיoriginated in the 1970s, when Rabbi Moshe Feinstein was still alive, and Rabbi Feinstein would not allow his own name on the cover.
“Rav Feinstein’s character shone out of his shiurim,” said a talmid, who said through his example, the Rav showed every student how to “be subordinate to ratzon Hashem and really use every fiber of one’s being to serve his Creator.”
For instance, in his shiurim, Rav Feinstein did not just explain the halachos of Shabbos, but the Rav illuminated the inner meaning of Shabbos.
“The Rav explained that all our actions and work are not really ‘ours,’” Rav Feinstein’s talmid said. “Everything we do is really Hashem’s, and that is why we back off and hold off from work for a full day to internalize that the work that makes us successful is not ours, but the work of Hashem.”
Rav Feinstein’s talmid also remembered being most affected by the kevana of Rav Feinstein.
“At times, when I watched him daven, I saw that he uttered each work with immense intent,” said Rav Feinstein’s talmid, who remembered that, just as, Rav Feinstein does at the end of parsha in the ArtScroll Chumash, at the end of each Friday class the Rav would relate ideas of gematria to the theme of each parsha.
For instance, after today’s reading of Parshas Vayeria, Rav Feinstein pointed out that the sedra has 147 verses, which corresponds to the gematria of Emunon, referring “to the profound emunah, faithfulness, of Avraham, which is the primary theme of the sidra,” Rav Feinstein wrote in the Artscroll Chumash.
In his last message to the world, Rav Feinstein reminded us as this tumultuous election week ended, and Kislev is approaching, to inspired by Avrohom’s Emunah.
“This faithfulness reached its zenith when [Avrohom] was commanded to sacrifice the son through whom his every future promise was to have been fulfilled. Yet his faith in G-d was so complete that he complied unhesitatingly.”
Rabbi Feinstein is survived by two sons and a daughter, by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Sadly, Rav Feinstein’s third son died in his youth.
Rav Feinstein’s kevurah will be in Eretz Yisroel.
Yehi zichro boruch.
Photos By: Issac Y.