Rav Dovid Kronglass zt”l, Upon His Yahrtzeit, Today


candle-small6By Yisroel Feldman

The petirah of the Mashgiach, Rav Dovid Kronglass, was an extremely special event for me for a number of reasons.  First of all, it was a first.  No, it was not the very first time in my life that I had went to a Levaiya (it did though, happen to be the second).  Rather, what it was, was that it was the first time that I was at the Levaiya of one of the Gedolay HaDor.

Furthermore, it was a very unique Levaiya for me.  Subsequently, I was to be present at many Levaiyos and Hespaydim for many Gedolay HaDor, including the absolute Gadol HaDor, the Raban Shel Yisroel, Rav Moshe Feinstein, ZT’L.  However, it was to be the only time that I was at the Levaiya of a Gadol where at the time of the Petira, I was a full student in that Rav’s yeshiva and was thus intimately present and involved in the crises of his illness and Petira.  It was thus quite a traumatic experience, which I cannot forget.

My contact with Rav Dovid was very limited.  Being the Mashgiach, he was at the very “top” of the yeshiva, right next to the Rosh Yeshiva, ZT’L.  He gave the weekly Sichos Mussar to the Beis Medrosh and also the highest daily Gemara Blatt Shiur.

By contrast, I was at the “lowest level” of the yeshiva.  When I first entered Ner Yisroel in Elul of 1970, I was in a special beginner’s Shiur in the Mechina high school, which was then given by, Yibodel L’Chaim, Rav Chaim Dovid Lapidus, Sh’lita.  Two years later, when I was past high school, I was also in a special beginner’s Shiur in the Beis Medrosh, which was then given by Rav Moshe Mintz, Sh’lita.  I went to a few of the Sichos Mussar that were given in Yiddish by Rav Dovid, but most of the time I continued to go over to the Sichos that were given in English in the Mechina.

There were three times when the Posek of the yeshiva, Rav Moshe Heinneman, Sh’lita, did not want to give a Psak Halacha to the Halacha Shaila that I had.  At each of those instances I asked him, “Should I ask Rav Dovid?” and he replied in the affirmative.  So those three times I went to Rav Dovid, and he did give me a Psak.

In 1973, the Taanis of Asara B’Teves came on an Erev Shabbos.  That evening after the Shabbos Seuda in the dining room, I took a walk on the campus roadway over toward the area of the faculty/Kollel housing.  As I was approaching that part, I suddenly heard the loud shrill of a siren and saw on my left an ambulance racing down the (outside) Mt. Wilson Lane public road – which at that point is parallel to the (inside) campus road.  It seemed strange to me that, while most ambulances are colored white, this one was colored red; maybe it was from the fire department.

Immediately, I thought that it was for Rav Dovid, for the year before, he had had a bad heart attack and was not able to give Shiur for several weeks.  Within seconds, my assumption was verified: the ambulance turned (off of Mt. Wilson) onto the Yeshiva Lane road (which runs along the apartment complexes).  As it approached the second apartment building, Yibodel L’Chaim Tovim V’Aruchim, Rav Dovid’s son, Ezra Kronglass, came running out of the building entrance, and, motioning at the ambulance with his arms, he shouted:  “OVER HERE!”  “OVER HERE!”

I turned around and went back to the main Beis Medrosh, which had then a few people.  Evidently, word of what had just happened reached some of them, for pretty soon, one of the Gibbor twins went to the Amud and led those present in saying a Kapital of Tehillim.  A short while later, I left and went back to the dormitory room I was then staying in.

Later on, when most of the dormitory students would have been thinking about going to sleep, there was suddenly a heavy tumult in the hall.  Almost immediately, the door of the room was opened by one of the students, Nesanel Frymark – the hall behind him was crowded with people talking and walking outward – he announced: “We’re going to the Beis Medrosh to say Tehillim for Rav Dovid!”

When I arrived at the Beis Medrosh – the time was now close to midnight – it was solidly packed with people who were learning shtark like on Shavuos night.  After a few minutes, Rav Shlomo Porter, Sh’lita, got up and led the saying of Tehillim.  The sound and the intensity of each Possuk that he read and everyone responded were like the sound and the intensity of the words of N’eela on Yom Kippur!

After a long saying of Tehillim, people showed me the special “T’fila L’Choleh” – the “Prayer for the Sick Person” that we had to say.  Reading this very long prayer with having to insert the (sick person’s) name and the mother’s name – something that I had never done before – was a bit hard for me.  Announcements were made of setting up shifts of people who would be studying and saying Tehillim throughout the night.

On the following morning was the regular Shabbos morning Davening with more Tehillim, and in the afternoon was continuing learning in the Beis Medrosh.  Before Mincha, the financial administrator of the yeshiva, Rav Naftoli Neuberger, ZT’L, slowly approached the Amud and, with a crying voice, led the Tzibbur in saying Tehillim.
After Mincha, the Tzibbur watched as in the front center of the Beis Medrosh near the Amud, the Rosh Yeshiva, ZT’L, Rav Neuberger, ZT’L, and a couple of other Hanhala members stood together in a little circle and talked; obviously, they were talking about the situation.  When they finished, the rumor shot out through the room that the developments were – very bad.  The Talmidim walked over to the dining room building and quickly ate Shalosh Seudos.  Rav Dovid would usually eat Shalosh Seudos with the Talmidim in the dining room, after which he would say the weekly Sichas Mussar in the Beis Medrosh.  This time, he obviously could not do that.

After Shalosh Seudos, everyone returned to the Beis Medrosh, and, of course, the Tehillim began.  With a loud and crying and begging and pleading voice, it was led by Rav Herschel Mermelstein, Sh’lita.  The sound and the intensity of each Possuk that he exclaimed and that everyone repeated were like the sound and the intensity of the words of N’eela on Yom Kippur – like the sound and intensity of the exclamation of Sh’ma Yisroel at the climax of N’eela on Yom Kippur!!

Possuk of Tehillim – with the sound and intensity of the exclamation of Sh’ma Yisroel at the climax of N’eela on Yom Kippur.

After Possuk of Tehillim – with the sound and intensity of the exclamation of Sh’ma Yisroel at the climax of N’eela on Yom Kippur.

After Possuk of Tehillim – with the sound and intensity of the exclamation of Sh’ma Yisroel at the climax of N’eela on Yom Kippur.

And then continuing – with the sound and intensity of the exclamation of Sh’ma Yisroel at the climax of N’eela on Yom Kippur:

“V’Hu Rachum Yichaper Avon . . . ” (The opening of Ma’ariv, the nightly evening service)

“Bor’chu Es A—— HaMvorach!”

“Boruch A—— HaMvorach L’Olam Vaed!”

“Boruch Ata A—— E—— M—– HaOlam, Asher Bidvaro Ma’ariv Aravim . . . ”

When the entire evening service was finished, suddenly – it was like I would many years later read in one of the first books by the master story narrator, Rav Hanoch Teller, Sh’lita, titled “Once Upon a Soul,” the story titled “The Shabbos Island” – suddenly, the whole large Beis Medrosh was empty!  It was totally quiet!  (Almost) everyone was gone!

One person who was still present told me that I was not allowed to be there; he explained something about “A Rov’s Beis Medrosh.”


Yes, I could tell what had happened; only, I did not want to believe it* until I would actually hear it openly said.


* Of course, my feeling was probably a very common totally understandable reaction that most people have when confronted with the occurrence of a terrible calamity.  Maybe, and I repeat maybe, a certain incident, which had occurred many years before, had caused me to have this attitude.  This effect on me would have been completely subconsciously for during that whole period of my life, I had not thought about this earlier event at all.  But still, the incident subconsciously taught me to always approach a calamity in this manner.

The incident was of almost a decade before, on November 22, 1963, regarding, L’Havdil Elef Havdalos, the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.  It started during the lunch break of the elementary school that I then attended.  The students were then playing in the schoolyard; at about ten minutes before the end of the long recess, a rumor began to go around that the President had been shot and killed.  When the recess was over and the students of the class I was then in came back into our classroom, we, understandably, asked our teacher about it.  Our teacher was an elderly woman; I can never forget the image of her standing in the front right corner of the room as she looked at us with a kindly face – HER EYES WERE WELLED UP WITH TEARS – and, in a broken light voice, said:

“WE’LL – LET’S – NOT – SAY – A – NY – THING – UN – TIL – WE – KNOW – FOR – SURE!”


After a few minutes, I turned to my left, to another person who was still present, Rav Yitzchak Brietowitz, Sh’lita, and bluntly confronted him:


Looking straight up at me, he calmly replied:


It is really amazing that for these past thirty-nine years, I never thought about this; only now, when I am writing up this narrative, did I suddenly realize this point.  As mentioned above, the routine was that Rav Dovid would have Shalosh Seudos with the Talmidim in the dining room.  After that, they would go to the Beis Medrosh where, in that period from after Shalosh Seudos until Ma’ariv, he would deliver the weekly Sichas Mussar.  So it is significantly noteworthy that it was during the time when Rav Dovid would perform one of the key tasks of his superb Harbotzos Torah, that Hashem transferred him to his next upper realm stage of life.

He was soon brought back to the yeshiva campus and placed in the ground floor office at the entrance of the classroom building.  A group of Talmidim gathered there throughout the night to perform the Tahara – Purification and say Tehillim.  An announcement was made that those people who wanted to carry the Aron – to be the pallbearers of the coffin, were required to go to the Mikva.

At the other end of the hallway that is near that office, there is a pay phone, which I used to call my family and inform them of what had happened.

The next morning, the main Beis Medrosh was cleared of its tables and chairs to make room for the expected large crowd of people.  When the Levaiya began, the opening speaker requested the pallbearers to bring in the Aron.  Immediately, the main doors of the Beis Medrosh opened, and that group of Talmidim, with a loud profuse burst of weeping, very quickly – it was almost like they were running – carried in the Aron over to the front center of the room and placed it down in front of the Aron HaKodesh.

Then, the Hespaydim – the eulogies began.  The first to speak was, of course, the Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Yaakov Yitzchak Halevy Ruderman, ZT’L.  Then, there was the Rosh Yeshiva’s son-in-law, who later was the successor Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg, ZT’L.  Then, there was the world renown superb Maggid Shiur, who later was the successor Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Yaakov Moshe Kulefsky, ZT’L.  Then, there was the Rosh Yeshiva of Beis Medrosh Gevoha of Lakewood, Rav Yosef Chaim Schneir Kotler, ZT’L.  Then, there were several other prominent Rabbonim.

I can remember a few of pieces of their remarks.  In a crying voice, the Rosh Yeshiva exclaimed:


(A fantastic person with a superb fear of Hashem)

Rav Yaakov Weinberg bluntly stated:


(He was the epitome of what a human being is supposed to be)

One of the speakers accurately related that when the Mashgiach would lead the services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the people in the Tzibbur really felt like they were actually being judged up in the Beis Din Shel Ma’ala.

When one of the speakers made a reference to the Mashgiach’s family “. . . and the Mishpacha,” there was a sudden burst of wailing from the women’s section.

When the long series of Hespaydim was completed, the Tzibbur boarded the cars and special busses for the long ride over to the Beis HaChaim in the north-east part of Baltimore.  As the Aron was being lowered down into the Kever – it was an image that I can never forget – Yibodel L’Chaim Tovim V’Aruchim, Ezra Kronglass was standing there; he was weeping profusely and shaking like a leaf!

For the program of the day of the Sh’loshim – the conclusion of the first thirty days of mourning, Rav Moshe Feinstein, ZT’L, came to the yeshiva and delivered a Sicha in the Beis Medrosh.  It was the first time that I saw the Gadol HaDor.  I was greatly amazed at how he carried himself with a high degree of tremendous dignity.

In the subsequent years, the Torah magazine, the “Jewish Observer,” published an excellent biography of Rav Dovid Kronglass, ZT’L.  It was written by one of his very top Talmidim, Yibodel L’Chaim Tovim V’Aruchim, Rav Gershon Weiss, Sh’lita, who is the Mashgiach of the Yeshiva of Staten Island, in Staten Island, New York.  Upon reading it, I could be only awestruck at learning about how very great of a Gadol B’Torah Rav Dovid was.  He was a person who knew literally Kol HaTorah Kulo, both Nigleh and Nistar, a brilliant Mechanech – educator, and thus played a crucial role in helping build Ner Yisroel into the major Makom Torah that it became.

Y’he Zichro Boruch

{Yisroel Feldman, Novato CA-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. I was a Talmid in NIRC when R’ Dovid was Niftar. It was freezing- the water for washing afterwards froze in minutes. A storm seem to be brewing. Yet after the Kvura (In Baltimore) the weather changed- unseasonably warm.

  2. Yehi Zichro Baruch.

    The mashgiach’s petira was in 1972. It is interesting to note that in both 5733 and 5734, Asara BTeves was on Friday–once in Dec 1972 and once in Jan 1974. There was no Asara BTeves in 1973!! (Just as there was no Asara BTeves in 2011, but rather in Dec 2010 and Jan 2012. This secular year, there will be a second Asara BTeves on Dec 23.)


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