Barkai, along with the entire House of Israel, deeply mourns the passing of HaRav Nahum Rabinovitch,ZT"L, the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Birkat Moshe, in Ma'ale Edumim.
Below is a eulogy that Barkai Rabbi, Ran Kalili of Shoham, a very close student of HaRav Rabinovitch, wrote and sent to his community on hearing of his Rabbi's passing.
With deep sorrow, I announce the passing of my esteemed Rabbi and teacher, Rabbi Nahum Eliezer Rabinovitch, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Maale Adumim.
Rabbi Rabinovitch achieved unbelievable proficiency and expertise in his study and analysis of the Rambam's works. He was a leading halakhic decisor, an expert in the area of family purity and a communal leader.
There are not many yeshiva deans who are also communal rabbis and are able to integrate in-depth learning and analysis with the ability to issue halakhic decisions. Rabbi Rabinovitch was ordained as a rabbi at the age of 20. He served as a communal rabbi in the cities of Charleston, South Carolina and Toronto, Canada and served as the dean of the London School of Jewish Studies (Jews' College) in England, before emigrating to Israel to serve as the dean of the yeshiva in Maaleh Adumim. It is not incidental that many of the yeshiva's graduates serve in rabbinic leadership positions and regularly consulted with Rabbi Rabinovitch about a wide variety of issues.
There are not many yeshiva deans who also studied science seriously. Rabbi Rabinovitch held a doctorate in mathematics and was extremely well-versed in many different academic fields.
There are not many yeshiva deans who can adjudicate intricate matters of halakha based on a rabbinic tradition that predated the Holocaust, a rabbinic halakhic tradition that was not especially well-known here in Israel. Rabbi Rabinovitch invoked a style of halakhic decision-making that was unheard of in other places. On many occasions, I incorporated this unique halakhic style in my book Hadrikheini B'amitekha.
Part of Rav Rabinovitch's greatness was his sensitivity towards others. He taught us that when it comes to issuing halakhic decisions, the answer needs to be specifically tailored to the person who has asked the question. On one occasion, Rabbi Eli Reif and I consulted him separately about the same halakhic question (the halakhic permissibility of wearing a pad when a woman is counting her seven clean days). The manner in which we each asked the question though, was completely different and accordingly, we received two different answers. We approached Rabbi Rabinovitch together to clarify what the halakha is…
Rabbi Rabinovitch was extremely independent in his halakhic decision-making process, and he was a master of all areas of Torah. Some of his halakhic decisions are rather famous – including his decisions regarding refusing an order to evacuate a Jewish settlement, visiting the Temple Mount, brain death and determining the moment of death, among other things. He was one of the first rabbinic authorities to publish a halakhic book geared towards soldiers serving in the Israeli army.
Not many halakhic authorities also have expansive philosophical knowledge. Rabbi Rabinovitch authored books about philosophy and was also a master of different philosophical works, aside from the Rambam's works. He once saw me studying Derekh Hashem, authored by Ramhal, and remarked: "Ramhal agreed with Rambam about many things." I once visited his home and saw that the book Orot open on the table.
Not many rabbis know how to connect their Torah learning to the real-life events that surround us. His weekly talks on Friday night, as well as his other addresses in the yeshiva, were always peppered with references and connections to current events.
Rabbi Rabinovitch was also a master educator; an incredible and empowering. He always empowered his students. When we came to ask him question, he would say: "What do you think?" He encouraged us to be independent. I learned from him that a "small" rabbi creates dependency in his students, while a great rabbi builds in his students the ability to be great. When I deliberated about publishing my book Hadrikheini B'amitekha (a halakhic work about intricate and serious matters of halakha that I wrote as a young rabbinical student), he called me and insisted that I publish it, and even wrote a letter of recommendation. (I did not have the audacity to follow through and I only published the book three years later). I once approached Rabbi Rabinovitch to consult with him about a question that I had already answered, in order to hear what he thought about it. He said to me: "The elder (rabbinic authority) already decided!" When my wife and I deliberated if we should accept a position of rabbinic leadership in Shoham, he told me: "Of course you should go. You will succeed!" He never made us feel demoralized. He only strengthened us.
Rabbi Rabinovitch was a great Zionist. He was extremely connected to the national process of redemption, as an outgrowth of his connection to the Torah. Emigration to Israel, settling the land, the ingathering of the exiles. In the yeshiva, as part of his approach to the ingathering of the exiles, he adopted an integrated version of the prayer services that drew from both Ashkenazic and Sephardic traditions. He was never a stickler for customs. Before my wedding (he was the officiating rabbi at my wedding), Rabbi Rabinovitch said to me and my wife: "The nuances between the different customs are trivial and it is not worth arguing about them. You can choose to do things either way. From a halakhic vantage point, all of the customs are acceptable." Yet, this attitude did not stop Rabbi Rabinovitch from being adamant about other issues that he felt were critical. For example, he was adamant about changing the formulations used in certain prayer services that addressed the angels, which according to Rambam is tantamount to idolatry. He was similarly unwavering about the prohibition of standing when the Ten Commandments are read, which is also in consonance with Rambam's approach.
I was so fortunate to be Rabbi Rabinovitch's student for twenty-five years, as a young rabbinical student, as a teacher in the yeshiva, as a community rabbi and as an author who publicized Rabbi Rabinovitch's halakhic responsa.
Rabbi Rabinovitch was born on the 10th of Iyar, and he returned his soul to his Creator on the 12th Iyar, at the age of 92.
He was the head of the yeshiva, a prominent halakhic decisor, a man of science and philosophy, a leader, an educator, an independent thinker, and an assertive and sensitive individual.
"Woe over those who are gone and are no longer found" (BT Sanhedrin 111a)
Barukh Dayan ha'emet.