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A Pravednik in our time part 3

"But he's strong as steel, even if he’s seventy-three-years old.”

So I said, "No one can know what’s going to be with any flesh and blood creature half an hour from now ' With that, this Izaak couldn't take any more and left

The next morning he came looking for me. "You know, what you said last night was very good.' I had to admit that I didn't even remember what I'd said "The last thing you said to me last night, at ten to eight, was that Stalin a flesh and blood and we don't know what's going to be with him in half an hour from now. This morning someone came in from outside the camp and said that the German radio is reporting that Stalin had a stroke at 8:23 last night and cant talk any more, just half an hour late-'!'' It wasn't until that Thursday, the fifth of March, 1953, that Stalin's death was officially announced.

A Different Kind of Revolution in the Holy Land

When R` Yitzchak arrived in Eretz Yisrael in 1972, after everything he'd gone through in Communist Russia, he was said to know Shas baal peh. When his son, R` Ben Tzion, shlita, who had never seen a yeshiva, went to be tested by R' Chaim Shmuelevitz, ztz"l, he cried from embarrassment. At the age of eighteen he did not yet know all of Shas, since many mesechtas were simply unavailable to him in Russia. He did not realize that his grasp of the mesechtas he did know was far beyond that of the vast majority of yeshiva bochurim of his age. Shortly after his first exposure to yeshiva life, he made a shidduch with the daughter of one of the leading roshei yeshivos in Eretz Yisrael.

On R' Yitzchak's arrival in Eretz Yisrael, he did not find a single shomer Shabbos Russian immigrant there. At that point he decided to dedicate himself to correcting this situation, and the results he achieved, nearly single-handedly over the next thirty-two years, are astounding The man who had let nothing stop him from mastering Shas in Stalinist Russia, who never violated Shabbos in two years in Siberia, who never took no for an answer, was now determined not to let anything stop him from bringing the hearts of his fellow Russian Jews back to their Father in Heaven. In recent years, he has also become recognized as a tzaddik whose prayers and blessings have brought amazing results.

In his early years in Eretz Yisrael R` Yitzchak had just a few talmidim, but by the time of the great Russian immigration in the early 1990's, he had dozens of teachers prepared to receive the masses. In the late 90's he opened Kollel Toldos Yeshurun for Russians, and within a few months the seed group of a few pairs of avreichim mushroomed into dozens.

Shortly after he arrived in Eretz Yisroel, he became involved in heter agunos, arranging for women who had been married but never received a proper halachic divorce, to receive a get so that they could remarry and build Torah-true homes. At times this involved enormous efforts to track down the former husbands in the far ends of the world and then persuade them to sign a get (often requiring bribing them with significant sums of money, which R' Yitzchak would somehow raise). This is apart from thousands of other couples he helped with all aspects of getting married, so that it is no exaggeration to say that literally thousands of families exist today as a direct result of his efforts, not to mention his remarkable success in maintaining shalom bayis among Russian families His daughter, Rebbetzin Chava Kuperman, tichye, directs the women's activities of the Toldos Yeshurun organization.

A Movement and a Memorial


In the winter of 5760, as R` Yitzchak lay in intensive care and hundreds of his followers davened fervently at the Kosel for his recovery, a talmid by the name of Avraham Cohen realized that it was time to do something to make sure that R Yitzchak's work would live on after him. The result was the Toldos Yeshurun Organization, dedicated to spreading Torah among Russian immigrants in Eretz Yisrael As of today, it has branches in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Ashdod, Netanya, Ofakim, Netivot, Modi'in, and other centers of Russian immigrant life, providing yeshivos, kollelim, schools for Russian-speaking women, outreach centers, and chesed activities. Presently 350 avreichim learn in kollelim under the auspices of this organization, and more than 1,200 participate in shiurim on a daily or weekly basis. (As long as his strength lasted, R' Yitzchak himself delivered at least two or three shiurim every day, and sometimes more.)

Under the spiritual guidance of R' Yitzchak, ztz"l, and now of his son R` Ben Tzion, shlita, this organization is flourishing as never before.

Rabbi Cohen, will never forget the last words he heard from R' Yitzchak, as the latter was about to enter the hospital about a month before he passed away (where, as a Cohen, Rabbi Cohen was unable to visit him). Perhaps sensing that the end was coming, he asked his rebbe for a blessing and although R` Yitzchak was always overflowing with blessings for everyone around him, this time he declined. All he would say was, "Whatever happens, don't be afraid of anything."

from "Mishpacha"




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