Rav Don Ungarischer zt”l, Upon His First Yahrtzeit, Today


rav-don-ungarischerToday is the first yahrzteit of Rav Don Ungarischer zt”l, rosh yeshiva of Bais Medrash Elyon in Monsey, who was niftar last year at age 88.http://matzav.com/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/wordpress/img/trans.gif

Rav Ungarischer was a son-in-law of Rav Reuven Grozovsky, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Kamenitz and later Yeshiva Torah Vodaas and Bais Medrash Elyon. Rav Reuven’s shiurim which were compiled in the set of seforim titled Chiddushei Rav Reuven, which have become classic in the yeshiva world and are among the important seforim used with great frequency by bnei yeshiva and roshei yeshiva alike, were edited by Rav Ungarischer.

Rav Ungarischer devoted decades of his life to harbotzas haTorah, leading both the yeshiva in Monsey and the Bais Medrosh Elyon branch in Bnei Brak, which is headed by Rav Don’s son, Rav Yerachmiel Ungarischer. Rav Don was recognized for his unceasing hasmadah and the depth and breadth of his yedios haTorah. He raised generations of talmidim, instilling in them ahavas haTorah and ahavas Hashem. His passing leaves a deep void across the Olam HaTorah.

It was during the early stages of Monsey’s birth as a Torah community that Rav Don Ungarischer went to Bais Medrash Elyon to assist his illustrious father-in-law, Rav Reuvain Grozovsky. Rav Reuvain founded the yeshiva in 1945, at the end of World War II, along with the legendary builder of Torah in America, Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz. Bais Medrash Elyon, affiliated with Yeshiva Torah Vodaas, was founded in the rural, small-town environment, conducive to peace of mind and ameilus baTorah.

Rav Don remained at the yeshiva for the rest of his life, first assisting Rav Reuvain and then assuming the mantle of leadership of the yeshiva, a position he kept for the next 53 years.

Rav Ungarischer served as both rosh yeshiva and devoted father figure to his talmidim, yet remained humble, unassuming and eminently approachable.

Gentle as a lamb in his dealings with others, in matters of Torah principle the Rosh Yeshiva was a fearless lion. He did whatever he could to ensure that Monsey remain a makom Torah.

Born in Vienna in 1923, Rav Don Ungarischer miraculously escaped Churban Europe in 1939 as a young bochur, along with two of his siblings. His parents were supposed to follow on the next ship. Tragically, there were no further ships, and they joined the Six Million kedoshim, Hashem yinkom domom.

Upon his arrival in America, Rav Don joined Yeshiva Torah Vodaas and became a talmid muvhak of the legendary Rav Shlomo Heiman, his rebbi in Torah and yiras Shomayim for the next six years, until Rav Shlomo’s petirah.

The brilliant young bochur’s hasmadah and middos attracted the attention of Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, who took the orphaned boy under his wing, buying him a new suit and caring for his needs. The Rosh Yeshiva never forgot that devotion, which was later repaid tenfold.

From Torah Vodaas, Rav Don joined Bais Medrash Elyon. In 1947, Rav Don married a daughter of the rosh yeshiva, Rav Reuvain Grozovsky. The week of sheva brachos took place during the last week of the zeman, and Rav Don was unsure of whether he should commute to Monsey for just a few days. His father-in-law encouraged the chosson, saying, “Do you know how precious a week of Torah is?”

Certainly, the Rosh Yeshiva knew. His talmidim cannot recall a time when they didn’t see Rav Don with a sefer in his hand, whether it be in a doctor’s waiting room, on an all-night trip home from Montreal in a car, or even waiting for a chupah to start. He was in the bais medrash all day and late into the evening, rarely taking off unless he was forced to go on a fundraising mission to keep the yeshiva afloat.

During the difficult era when his rebbetzin was ill, while he took care of her needs, the Rosh Yeshiva found solace in his learning.

In his early years at Bais Medrash Elyon, Rav Don and his rebbetzin resided in a two-room apartment, across the hall from other young families, on the second floor of a small house next to the bais medrash. (The Schiff family lived on the ground floor.) Later, the Ungarischers moved to Edwin Lane, in slightly larger accommodations, with the same Spartan lifestyle.

In 1952, when Rav Reuvain became unwell, he instructed his brilliant son-in-law to begin delivering shiurim in his place. At first, Rav Don related his father-in-law’s shiurim. He began saying his own shiurim after Rav Reuvain’s petirah in 1958, when he formally accepted the title of Rosh Yeshiva.

Rav Don’s shiurim, known for their clarity and precision, were similar in style to those of his rebbi, Rav Shlomo Heiman. The Rosh Yeshiva was a master of explanation, following the tradition of Rav Shlomo, breaking everything down to its basic elements and building from the foundation upwards.

The Rosh Yeshiva left behind a beautiful family of bnei and bnos Torah, talmidei chachomim and gedolei Torah. His children include Rav Yerachmiel Ungarischer, rosh yeshiva of Bais Medrash Elyon of Bnei Brak; Rav Boruch Ber Ungarischer; Rav Shimshon Ungarischer; Rebbetzin Falk; Rebbetzin Swiatitzky; Rebbetzin Handler; and Rebbetzin Malin, wife of Rav Isser Yehudah Malin, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Knesses Yehudah in Yerushalayim. He was also survived by his siblings-in-law, Rav Shamshon Grozovsky and Rebbetzin Rochel Krupenia, children of Rav Reuven Grozovsky. He was predeceased by his son, Rav Refoel Reuvain Ungarischer zt”l.

Yehi zichro boruch.

{Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}



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