Memory Lane: Rav Chaim Pinchos Lubinsky
Boro Park of yore was home to one of the largest waves of she’eiris hapleitoh in the world; men and women who’d seen the worst atrocities in history before their eyes, had the majority of their loved ones sent heavenward in the fire of the Churban, and emerged to rebuild atop the ashes.
In Boro Park they created a renaissance. These immigrants built and strengthened chinuch institutions, Chessed and tzeddakah organizations, and formed shuls and shtieblach where they gathered along with the only family they had; their fellow survivors. Although, they are mostly left this world, their legacy remains everywhere we look in Boro Park.
Which brings us to Rav Lubinsky—a ga’on, lamdan, and herculean masmid to his last days—whose 35th yohrtzeit fell this 15 Kislev.
‘The Blashker Iluy’
Chaim Pinchos was born in the Polish town of Błaszki, about 100 km west of Łódź, into a famiy of Polish Jewry’s royalty. His grandfather, Rav Bunim Menashe Lubinsky, was one of the prominent chassidim of the Sfas Emes of Ger, who would be seated at a place of honor among the thousands of chassidim.
In addition, Rav Bunim Menashe was an ardent follower of Rav Yechiel Meir of Gostynin—considered the spiritual heir of the Kotzker Rebbe and Rebbe Bunim of Przysucha, a fiery leader among Poland’s chassidim in the latter part of the 19th century. In tribute to his rebbi, he named his son Yechiel Meir—a talmid of the Avnei Nezer— who would give birth to Chaim Pinchos in the year 1904.
As a young bachur, he became known for his hasmodoh in learning, and his remarkable memory. He came to Łódź and sought out the town’s lomdim. He became known as the Blashker Iluy—and his memorization of large sections of Torah would later serve to strengthen him and those around him in the darkest of times.
Sweetness Under Fire
He spent the first five years of the terrible churban in the Lodz ghetto. The suffering that he endured impacted him for life, but his emunah remained ironclad, and his ahavas haTorah did not wane for even a moment, under the most trying circumstances—as he would later attest:
The last period of the war found him in Bergen Belsen, where he became the unofficial rov—and immediately following the war he jumped into the fray, heading numerous initiatives and institutions to serve the broken survivors material and spiritual needs. Along with his brother in law, Rav Shlomo Zev Zweigenhaft, he oversaw the kosher slaughter for the entire region.
After a while the survivors began settling in the towns around Bergen Belsen, and from the postwar era and to the end of his life, Rav Lubinsky was known as the rov of Hanover, Germany, on account of his work there. Along with other rabbonim of Bergen Belsen—including the Jaslo Rov, Rav Yoel Halpern, whom we have profiled here—they formed a Rabbinate to represent them to the German and American governments, as well as worldwide Jewry.
While not as high profile as in postwar Europe, Rav Chaim Pinchos’ impact in she’eris hapleito America was significant. One of the most prominent Gerer chassidim to survive the war, he was asked by the Beis Yisroel of Ger to found the Mesivta in Boro Park, along with another friend from Bergen Belsen, Rav Yisroel Moshe Olewski, the rov of Celle, Germany in the postwar era.
A neighbor who grew up one floor beneath Rav Chaim Pinchos in Boro Park recalls this about him; never moving from his shtender from morning till night, learning in the sweetest singsong.
In Kislev of 1985, Rav Chaim Pinchos ascended to continue his learning in the yeshiva shel maaloh—following 35 years of serving as a pillar of a great renaissance in Boro Park of yesteryear.