Thursday, Jul 18, 2024

Rav Moshe Handelsman zt”l

The passing of Rav Moshe
Handelsman zt”l this week marks
the end of an era. He was the last
member of the early hanhalah of the
Mirrer Yeshiva of Brooklyn under
the leadership of Rav Avrohom Kalmanowitz.
He served for decades as
the beloved executive director of the
Mirrer Yeshiva. He began his tenure
in the 1950s and continued for decades
under Rav Avrohom’s son and
successor, Rav Shraga Moshe Kalmanowitz,
and Rav Avrohom’s sonin-
law, Rav Shmuel Berenbaum.
Always amiable and with a good
word and vort for everyone, Reb
Moshe was loved and admired by
the hanhalah and talmidim of the yeshiva
alike. Whenever he addressed
a yeshiva function, whether it was a
fundraiser on behalf of the yeshiva
or a Kiddush in the yeshiva dining
room, Reb Moshe captivated his
audiences, sharing divrei Torah and
maaselech in his trademark manner.
Reb Moshe was a son of Reb
Reuven and Mrs. Faiga Handelsman
and grew up in Romania. During the
war, Reb Moshe endured various
difficult trials and tribulations, most
significant of which was the petirah
of his mother. The Handelsman family,
led by Reb Moshe’s father, who
survived, immigrated to the United
States a decade after the war.
It was Reb Moshe’s kesher with
the legendary Rav Avrohom Kalmanowitz,
founding rosh yeshiva of
the Mirrer Yeshiva in Brooklyn, that
led to his shidduch with his wife,
Toby, nee Israel.
Reb Moshe would relate stories
about Rav Kalmanowitz that became
life lessons for him and shed light on
his own worldview as well. For example,
he once related that he was
driving somewhere in a car with Rav
Kalmanowitz, who said, “Moishele!
How does a person know if he has a
shaychus (relationship/connection)
with Klal Yisroel?”
Reb Moshe was unsure what to
answer. First he offered, “If he keeps
“If he puts on tefillin?”
Again Rav Avrohom shook his
“I will tell you,” Rav Avrohom
explained. “If during the day you
hear that a Yid is in trouble, or Yidden
are undergoing persecution
somewhere in the world, and then,
when it is time for you to retire for
the night, you sleep peacefully, that
is a clear sign that you do not have a
shaychus to Klal Yisroel. If you cannot
fall asleep and are awake thinking,
‘What can I do to help my fellow
Yidden? What can I do to save
them or alleviate their plight?’ then
you have a shaychus to Klal Yisroel.”
Reb Moshe also once related a
fundraising lesson he heard from
Rav Avrohom that he deeply internalized.
He said that he learned
that when it comes to the yeshiva’s
money, great sums and insignificant
sums are to be treated equally. Rabbi
Handelsman recalled how Morris
Morgenstern, the philanthropist after
whom the Mirrer Yeshiva Mesivta
is named, once gave him a check
for $100,000 (which today would be
the equivalent of well over a million
dollars). Rav Avrohom was about to
go to the bank to deposit the check,
when a woman came knocking on
his office door bearing a check for
$5 that she had pledged to the yeshiva
during Yizkor of the previous
Yom Tov.
Reb Moshe made an indelible
mark on the Mirrer Yeshiva, to
which he was supremely devoted,
and he will always be remembered
for his remarkable contributions to
the yeshiva. He had a unique kesher
with the roshei yeshiva, Rav Shraga
Moshe Kalmanowitz and Rav Shmuel
Berenbaum, and cherished his
kesher with the yeshiva in general.
The Mirrer Yeshiva truly was his
second family.
Reb Moshe was zocheh to raise
an outstanding family of bnei Torah
and marbitzei Torah. He is survived
by his second wife, Mrs. Yehudis
(Hirsch) Handelsman; his children,
Rav Leizer Handelsman of Los
Angeles, Rav Michel Handelsman,
R”M at Mesivta of Lakewood, Mrs.
Faigy Borchardt of Bensonhurst,
and Mrs. Yitty Sternbuch of Bensonhurst;
and many grandchildren
and great-grandchildren.
The levayah was held on Tuesday
morning at Mesivta of Lakewood,
followed by a levayah at the
Mirrer Yeshiva in Brooklyn. The
aron was then flown to Eretz Yisroel
for kevurah on Har Hamenuchos in
Yehi zichro boruch.




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