Saturday, Oct 16, 2021

Rav Zev Hoberman zt”l – A Gaon in Torah and Machshava; An American Torah Pioneer

With the passing of Rav Zev Hoberman zt”l on the first day of Sukkos, the American Torah community lost one of its most prominent gaonim, talmidei chachomim and original thinkers, and one of the pioneering giants of the first generation of American-born bnei Torah.

 Rav Zev was one of a handful of early trailblazing American Torah pioneers upon whom today’s entire spiritual edifice of thousands and thousands of bnei Torah and talmidei chachomim stands. He and his wife, Rebbetzin Esther Hoberman a”h, forged a dynamic partnership that profoundly influenced and impacted the future of American Torah Jewry. Together, they showed American-born young Jews that a life devoted to Torah was not just possible, but was the optimum choice through which one could truly achieve the ultimate happiness, not just in Olam Haba but also in Olam Hazeh.

 

Indeed, Rav Zev has the zechus rishonim of being among the first to accomplish things that today seem the norm. In truth, that norm was built upon the broad shoulders of Rav Zev and his few chaveirim who paved the way for the future. He was among the first American bnei Torah to learn in Lakewood under the rosh yeshiva, Rav Aharon Kotler. He was literally the first Lakewood “shteller,” the first maggid shiur to come out of Lakewood when he was asked to join the roshei yeshiva of the Philadelphia Yeshiva and deliver the ninth grade shiur there. He was also the first American ben Torah to create an approach to the then uncharted territory of sifrei machshava. His multi-volume seforim Ze’ev Yitrof became classics in his lifetime.

 

Perhaps more than all of this, he remained the quintessential masmid, gaon and yogeiah baTorah. During his entire life, he found no greater satisfaction than completely immersing himself in the inyan that he was learning. During the last decades of his life, possibly his most prolific period, he was the example par excellence of a person who learned Torah lishmah with remarkable hasmadah, with no ulterior motive other than to learn, to know and to revel in the beauty of Hashem’s Torah.

 

It was this spiritual giant who thousands came to mourn on the first day of Chol Hamoed at three levayos, beginning at Bais Medrash Govoah in Lakewood, continuing at the airport, and ending in Eretz Yisroel, where he was buried.

 

THE FOOT SOLDIERS CHOSEN BY HASHEM TO SPEARHEAD THE AMERICAN TORAH REVOLUTION

 

“Without a doubt, one of the vehicles of the Hashgachah Elyonah to plant Torah in America among American-born children was the first chaburah in Baltimore to which Rav Zev Hoberman belonged. The fact that seven out of the ten students in his high school class at the Talmudical Academy of Baltimore would go on to spend their lives learning and teaching Torah to others was one of the wondrous ways that Hashem ensured that Torah would not be forgotten among Klal Yisroel.” These were the words used by Rav Chaim Yehoshua Hoberman, rosh yeshiva of the Mesivta of Long Beach and a son of Rav Zev, in describing the pivotal role that his father played in perpetuating Torah in America.

 

Rav Zev was born 82 years ago in Baltimore. His parents were immigrants from the Ukraine who fled the pogroms and persecution there. Reb Shlomo and Rochel Hoberman ran a grocery store and were simple, ehrliche Yidden. The neighborhood in Baltimore where they lived was at the opposite end of town from where the Talmudic Academy, Baltimore’s Jewish school, was located. His father therefore sent him to public school, as was customary for children at the time, even those from frum families.

 

When he was in fourth grade, young Zev Hoberman came home from school one day and asked his father if he could change schools. He explained that his school ended at 3 p.m. and a school that his friends attended ended at 2:30. When his father asked him what the name of the school is, Zev replied that it was a Catholic school. The very next day, Zev was enrolled in the Jewish school. Every day, from the time he was in fourth grade until the yeshiva opened a dormitory for the boys in high school, he spent hours on the bus commuting to and from yeshiva.

 

When he graduated elementary school, Talmudical Academy opened a high school division, of which Rav Zev became a founding member. The maggid shiur was a talmid chochom named Rav Yaakov Bobrowsky, a former Kamenitzer talmid who had the uncanny ability to transmit the geshmak of Torah and the beauty of lomdus to American-born kids who were completely steeped in American culture.

 

 “Rav Bobrowsky, with his own contagious love of Torah, succeeded in imbuing his charges with a profound ahavas haTorah that eclipsed all of the other enjoyable pursuits that they had,” related Rav Zev’s son, Rav Chaim Yehoshua. “Members of that first class went on to become some of the most prominent roshei yeshiva and marbitzei Torah in the country.”

 

Rav Aharon Feldman, currently rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Ner Yisroel of Baltimore and a classmate of Rav Zev’s from Talmudical Academy, related that at that time, in the late 1940s, he knew every single ben Torah in the entire United States. That is how few and far between they were!

 

His son said that an insight into the gadlus of his father and his chaburah was that when they were bar mitzvah, they probably had no idea who Rav Akiva Eiger was. They had simply never heard of him. Then, within a couple of years, they were so bound to Torah that it dwarfed everything else in his life. He was introduced to the world of yeshivos by Rav Bobrowsky and, ybl”c, Rav Hirsh Diskind.

 

His soul became so attached to Torah that by the time he was in eleventh grade, he and a few like-minded friends decided that they did not want to continue with limudei chol. Needless to say, the school was not enamored by this idea, and they went to a din Torah about the matter to the rosh yeshiva of the Lomza Yeshiva, Rav Yechiel Mordechai Gordon. Rav Gordon proposed a compromise that would allow the bochurim more time to learn while simultaneously ensuring that they completed their secular requirements.

 

The burning ahavas haTorah and the pioneering spirit of Rav Zev and his chaveirim were clearly seen when, as 16-year-old bochurim, they snuck out of Baltimore and travelled to New York to visit Rav Aharon Kotler and request that he accept them as his talmidim in the then recently established Bais Medrash Govoah in Lakewood. Someone who realized what had happened called Rav Aharon on the phone and told him about the bochurim who were coming from Baltimore to see him, stating that they were underage. Rav Aharon greeted the boys warmly and, when he asked Rav Zev how old he was, he replied cleverly, “Noch nisht tzvontzik – Not yet twenty!” With a twinkle in his eye, Rav Aharon smiled at the bochurim and told them to return in one year, at which time he would accept them.

 

LEARNING IN LAKEWOOD UNDER RAV AHARON

 

The next year, Rav Zev and his friends arrived in Lakewood. Rav Aharon sent them to learn for one year by Rav Yitzchok Hutner in Yeshivas Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin. It was there that Rav Zev first became acquainted with Rav Hutner, who would later have a great impact on him.

 

Unfortunately, after a short time in Yeshiva Chaim Berlin, Rav Zev’s mother because seriously ill in Baltimore and he was forced to return home. There, he joined Yeshivas Ner Yisroel, where he heard shiurim from the great gaon and rosh yeshiva, Rav Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman.

 

His son, Rav Chaim Yehoshua, related that “in all of these yeshivos, the great roshei yeshiva were enamored by his kishronos, his sharp, penetrating intellect, and drew him close to them. Thus, by the time Rav Zev was a mere 17 years old, he managed to capture the hearts of three of the most prominent roshei yeshiva and marbitzei Torah of that time in America.”

 

After Chanukah 1947, Rav Zev and his chaburah of Baltimore joined Bais Medrash Govoah in Lakewood. Up until that time, the talmidim learning in Lakewood were former Kletzker studentsfrom Europe and other European refugee bnei Torah who had arrived on American shores. The arrival of Rav Zev and his friends was a watershed moment for Lakewood. They were the first group of American-born and educated bnei Torah to join Lakewood and become talmidim of Rav Aharon, swept up in his holy fire of enthusiasm for Torah lishmah.

 

Since the group arrived in the middle of the zeman, they learned bechavrusah among themselves. Rav Zev learned with Rav Ezra Novick for all three sedorim. During that winter, they learned the entire Maseches Kiddushin together. Rav Zev would say that his knowledge and understanding of Maseches Kiddushin came from the total immersion in that masechta that he experienced that zeman.

 

At Rav Zev’s levaya in Eretz Yisroel, his longtime chaver, Rav Aharon Feldman, related that Rav Zev was undoubtedly the ari shebichaburah, the lion of that entire group. At Rebbetzin Hoberman’s levaya in Eretz Yisroel four years ago, Rav Leib Heyman zt”l, rov of the Gra Shul in Bayit Vegan and also a member of that chaburah, expressed a similar sentiment.

 

During that initial period in Lakewood, there were three Lakewood talmidim who had the greatest impact on him. The most prominent influence on him was that of Rav Dov Schwartzman zt”l, Rav Dov was an absolute genius who not only greatly influenced Rav Zev in learning, but also opened the world of machshavah to him based on the seforim of the Maharal and others. Another bochur who made a profound impression on him was Rav Elya Svei zt”l. Rav Zev’s children recently found a letter that Rav Zev had wrote written in 1948. In it, he writes, “Rav Elya Svei has not yet returned to Lakewood as of yet and hopes to come back on Rosh Chodesh Elul. I can’t wait until he comes back to yeshiva. He was here for about a week and stayed in our room. I got a chance to talk with him quite a bit. It is a pleasure to have a bochur like him around. He is truly an adam choshuv in every sense of the word.”

 

Rav Zev’s son, Rav Yisroel Mayer Hoberman, relates that he had the zechus to take his father to Philadelphia to be menachem avel the family of Rav Elya Svei after his petirah. Rav Zev told the family that from the time he met Rav Elya, it was Rav Elya who served as his role model for what a true ben Torah and adam choshuv is.

 

Rav Zev also became very close to Rav Shneur Kotler and spent Yomim Tovim in Lakewood as a guest of Rav Shneur.

 

In 1951, when he was 21 years old, Rav Zev married Esther Rosenberg. Rebbetzin Hoberman was one of the first talmidos of Rebbetzin Vichna Kaplan at the Bais Yaakov of Williamsburg and possessed a burning love for Torah and for transmitting Torah. She was the quintessential mechaneches, teaching and advising girls and women for more than 60 years.

 

“She was a woman who personified that which it says in the posuk about Devora aishes Lapidus. She was Devora, a great woman in her own right, but, first and foremost, she was aishes Lapidus, she was the wife and helpmate of Lapidus.” This was the way one prominent mechanech described Rebbetzin Hoberman.

 

Yes, she was a mechaneches of thousands and so many came to her for advice, but anyone who observed her and saw how she conducted her life knew that to her, her primary mission in life was to be an eizer kinegdo and an aishes chaver.

 

The respect that she had for her husband, Rav Zev, the way she latched onto his every word, and the bittul that she had for him was so profound that it practically defies description.

 

For nearly sixty years, the Hobermans lived a life that embodied the words of Chazal that teach that the Shechinah resides with a couple who lives in harmony according to the Torah. The harmonious relationship reflecting the deepest respect that each had for the other was truly the stuff of legends. At the levaya, one of the maspidim said that in their 57 years of marriage, she never once raised her voice, something that her husband, Rav Zev, confirmed. This was a marriage that was built on Torah and the Torah’s ideal for the respect that a Torah relationship requires.

 

Rebbetzin Hoberman viewed all that her husband said as kodesh kodoshim. Her aspirations, goals and career were all completely secondary to those of her husband. She understood that there was no greater calling in life than to partner with a talmid chochom and assisting a talmid chochom in his avodas hakodesh. This was what she embodied at every stage of her life.

 

The Hobermans were only the second American couple to move to Lakewood and join the kollel in Bais Medrash Govoah. In 1951, the Rebbetzin was the first kollel woman to break through and get a job teaching at Bezalel Hebrew Day School. Because she was being paid, Rav Zev went to Rav Aharon and told him that he did not want to accept the kollel check, as they could manage on his wife’s salary. The rosh yeshiva, however, insisted that he take a check, because “it is not healthy that support for the home should come solely from the wife.” In the end, they compromised and Rav Zev accepted $10 a week.

 

MAKING A LIFELONG IMPRESSION ON TALMIDIM AS A REBBI AND ROSH YESHIVA

 

The first three Hoberman children were born in Lakewood. In 1955, when the Philadelphia Yeshiva opened its doors, the roshei yeshiva, Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky and Rav Dov Schwartzman, invited Rav Zev to serve as the first maggid shiur. Rav Zev began his career in harbotzas haTorah with the ninth grade and progressed together with that same class for four years until they were in twelfth grade together.

 

Rav Zev remained in Philadelphia for ten years, teaching the twelfth grade and impacting his talmidim. During his years in Philadelphia, Rav Zev also developed a very close relationship with the older bais medrash bochurim through the wisdom in machshavah that he shared with them on a regular basis.

 

Upon leaving the Philadelphia Yeshiva, he established his own yeshiva in Staten Island. That yeshiva ultimately became Mesivta Tiferes Yerushalayim of Staten Island. Rav Zev went on to be marbitz Torah as a rosh yeshiva and R”M in a number of yeshivos in both America and Eretz Yisroel. He formed lifelong relationships with many of his talmidim, who credit him with being the impetus in creating their all-enduring love of Torah and bond with Torah that never waned.

 

What was his koach? How did he succeed in so powerfully impacting so many talmidim?

 

At the levaya in Eretz Yisroel, one of his early talmidim from his years in Philadelphia, Rav Michel Bodenheimer of Bnei Brak, related that Rav Zev’s power to influence his talmidim stemmed from his extraordinary charisma. Talmidim were attracted to Rav Zev. They wanted to be in his presence. They wanted to become close to him, but they knew that the only way to become close to him and develop a relationship was through Torah learning, because that was the only thing that was truly important to him. Torah learning was everything to him. He found no greater sippuk than transmitting to his talmidim his own tremendous ahavas haTorah and delight in a chiddush.

 

When people asked him what the best way to reach and positively influence one’s talmidim or one’s children is, Rav Zev would answer that chinuch is 99% by example. True to his words, Rav Zev was the ultimate example of hasmadah and ahavas haTorah. Talmidim who learned by him in Philadelphia related that the apartment in which he lived with his family was located in the yeshiva’s dormitory. The apartment was barely an apartment in the conventional sense of the word. Rather, it was a kitchen with a couple of bedrooms. The rest of the “apartment” served as a thoroughfare for the bochurim to get to the dormitory rooms.

 

On the right side of the thoroughfare was Rav Zev’s study. The bochurim related that no matter when they passed that study, whether it was late at night when they were retiring or early in the morning, the light was on and Rav Zev was learning. Regardless of how early a bochur rose, he found Rav Zev already awake – or perhaps he had never gone to sleep – and learning.

 

The yeshiva in Staten Island consisted of a small, three-story structure. The basement was the yeshiva’s dining room and kitchen. (The Rebbetzin, a young mother of children, served as the cook.) The ground floor housed the bais medrash, the dormitory and Rav Zev’s study. The upper floor was where the Hobermans lived, but it was so small that there was not enough room for their children. Thus, the two oldest children who were under bar mitzvah slept in a tiny alcove in the dormitory. Here, too, all the bochurim saw was Rav Zev learning in his study and how the Hoberman family was moser nefesh for Torah, happily giving up their own comfort and privacy so that Rav Zev could learn and teach talmidim Hashem’s Torah.

 

A fascinating story that provides insight into Rav Zev’s impact on his talmidim and the contagious love of Torah that he instilled is the following. Once, when he was about to return to Baltimore to serve as rosh yeshiva at the Talmudical Academy of Baltimore, his alma mater, a member of the board came to him and asked him if, as a student of Rav Aharon Kotler who had waged a battle against college education, he would also discourage his students from seeking higher education. Rav Zev replied, “I will tell you a story that transpired at a graduation in Philadelphia Yeshiva several years ago. At the graduation, a father came over to me and told me that he was very upset with me, because his son did not want to continue with his secular studies and only wanted to learn Torah. I replied to him, ‘Let’s call your son over and ask him if I ever said a word to discourage secular studies.’ The son affirmed that his rebbi had never spoken about the concept.”

 

Rav Zev continued: “If you have a claim against anyone, it should against the secular studies teachers, not against me. I was hired to teach Torah, and in doing what I had to do, I instilled a love of learning in my students. The secular studies staff was hired to teach secular studies. If your son is in love with Torah and not with secular studies, it is their fault, not mine! I was just doing what I was hired to do!”

 

Rav Zev then explained to the board member, “You are hiring me to teach Torah and that is all I will do. If my students will love Torah and want to pursue it, no one can blame me for just doing my job!”

 

All of Rav Zev’s talmidim who remained close to him throughout the years are characterized by a love of learning and a commitment to sustained growth in learning. Even decades after Rav Zev stopped giving shiurim, many talmidim would come to learn with him on a regular basis and bask in his warmth. Some of greatest American marbitzei Torah and roshei yeshiva were Rav Zev’s talmidim and attribute their lifelong dedication to Torah to the love of learning that he implanted in them. Perhaps his son, Rav Chaim Yehoshua, put it best when he said, “My father was an American-born kid who liked all of the things that American kids like. His rabbeim instilled in him such a love and appreciation for learning. It was this love that my father sought to instill in his own talmidim and he succeeded remarkably.”

 

UNRELENTING HASMADAH

 

Rav Zev was a phenomenal masmid his entire life. A person who entered his home and saw the 25 volumes of his magnum opus Ze’ev Yitrof asked, “How could he have written so many seforim?” Rav Zev’s son replied, “If you would learn with great hasmadah most of the day and through large portions of the night for 65 years, it is not a chiddush!”

 

Rav Zev’s rebbi, Rav Aharon Kotler, would say that the difference between an ikkur and a tofel is not that one thing is more important than the other. It means that it is in a totally different category. To Rav Zev, the only currency that had any value was Torah. Torah was in a category all by itself.

 

One of Rav Zev’s sons related that it had become a family joke that when Rav Zev spoke at a family simcha, he would speak about the sugya that he was learning. He wouldn’t say something on the parsha and then connect it to the simcha. What he was learning was akin to his baby. It was the thing nearest and dearest to his heart, and the most natural thing to do was to share with others that which was dearest to him. It was only on very rare occasions that he would publicly say something at a simcha that was more personal in nature.

 

This idea, that the only currency of value to him was Torah, also applied to the way that he viewed people. A person who dedicated his life to learning or teaching Torah was in a completely different category than a person who wasn’t. In his very first sefer on Purim, Rav Zev speaks about this worldview in his answer to the question of why it was so important for Mordechai not to give in to Haman’s decrees and stand up to him. A person who dedicates his life to Torah, Rav Zev explained, is not governed by the same laws of nature as others. He is on a completely different plain. That is why Mordechai was able to openly disregard Haman, which would have otherwise been viewed as suicidal.

 

HIS SEFORIM AND HIS UNIQUE PATH IN TORAH

 

As great a masmid as Rav Zev was during his younger years, in his later years he brought his hasmadah to even greater levels. After his early retirement, when he was not confined to any specific yeshiva schedule, he would learn and learn and learn until he understood a sugya. There was no day and no night. He learned until he was so tired that he had to take a rest, and then, when he awoke, he would learn further.

 

Rav Zev forged a unique path in Torah for himself that does not lend itself to compartmentalization. On the one hand, he was very much the talmid of Rav Aharon Kotler. He was a notable masmid who symbolized the gadlus baTorah in all areas of Torah that Rav Aharon demanded. He dedicated his life to the ideal of Torah lishmah that Rav Aharon, by the sheer force of his personality, inculcated in the mindset of American Jewry. On the other hand, however, Rav Zev was also a pioneer in the olam hamachshavah. He found great spiritual satisfaction and delight in immersing himself in the machshavah seforim to understand the Torah, the Yomim Tovim and many other areas of Torah in accordance with the approach of the Maharal and other sifrei machshavah. Certainly, his first rebbi in this area was Rav Dov Schwartzman. It was as a bochur in Lakewood that Rav Zev became very close with Rav Dov and, undoubtedly, his neshamah found a kindred spirit in Rav Dov. Just a glimpse into the tremendous deference that Rav Zev had for Rav Dov can be gleaned from the following story.

 

Rav Zev’s son, Rav Yisroel Mayer, recounted that, recently, when his father was hospitalized, they somehow got into a discussion about Rav Dov. Rav Zev related how in awe he had always been of Rav Dov’s genius and greatness. He explained that he had received the greatest compliment from Rav Dov. Several decades ago, when Rav Zev was on the cusp of publishing his first sefer, he gave the manuscript to Rav Dov to review. Rav Dov read it and told Rav Zev, “There is kishron here.” That Rav Dov, the ultimate baal kishron, would say that there was kishron in Rav Zev’s work was the supreme compliment to Rav Zev.

 

Additionally, Rav Zev maintained a close relationship with Rav Yitzchok Hutner and, in fact, during his years in Philadelphia, he would journey to New York by train once a week to learn privately with Rav Hutner. He learned Toras hanistar, the hidden parts of the Torah, with Rav Hutner, and when he would return to Philadelphia from his learning sessions with Rav Hutner, Rav Dov would sometimes sit him down and ask him to relate what he had learned.

 

When Rav Zev was in Eretz Yisroel, he developed a very close relationship with, ybl”c, Rav Mechel Zilber, currently rosh yeshiva of Zvhill, a young gaon who also had an affinity for machshavah and Toras hanistar. That relationship continued for many years, and whenever Rav Mechel would come to America, he would make a point of visiting Rav Zev.

 

Perhaps the most remarkable period of Rav Zev’s life was the decades after he retired from serving as a rosh yeshiva or maggid shiur, when threw himself into writing his seforim. Most people take it easy when they enter early retirement, but not Rav Zev. He was the ultimate ben Torah, learning day and night with no motive other than to understand Hashem’s Torah. During that time, he authored and published 25 seforim. Most of those seforim were on topics of machshavah relating to the Yomim Tovim and Tanach.

 

He also published classic halacha and lomdishe seforim. One of these is on Malchus Bais Dovid. The sefer contains portions devoted to the parameters of the kedushah of the Bais Hamikdosh. During the last decade of his life, he also began to write seforim on Shas. He started from the beginning, covering Maseches Brachos and most of Seder Moed. At the time of his wife’s passing four years ago, he was in the middle of Maseches Yevamos. He suspended that project in the middle of Yevamos. One family member attributed this to the fact that he realized that his conclusions on the sugya in that masechta were differing from those of his rosh yeshiva, Rav Aharon. Thus, he did not feel comfortable publishing them.

 

He then returned to writing on areas of machshavah. His most recent seforim were on Neviim and the haftorahs. He also left behind two volumes in manuscript form, one on Neviim and one on Kesuvim, which his family hopes to publish in the near future.

 

The fascinating thing about this era of his life was the fact that he learned without a chavrusah the entire time. From the time he left Lakewood until the last few years of his life, he never learned with a chavrusah. He would often rise at 2 or 3 a.m. and learn until Shacharis, continuing without respite until he became utterly exhausted. It was only after his Rebbetzin’s petirah that he found it too difficult to learn such long hours alone. He therefore decided to take a chavrusah. He began to learn with his grandson, Rav Dovid Hoberman, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Later, he returned once more to learning on his own.

 

Clearly, he derived great sippuk hanefesh from writing his seforim. He invested unbelievable effort into learning the often obscure topics upon which his seforim were written. It was rare to see him bring two approaches to a topic in his seforim. He would toil and toil until he developed a singular approach to the sugya,and that is the approach that he wrote. His focus was always on getting to the depth of the p’shat, and he found little value in just setting forth various p’shatim and pilpulim. An insight into how he viewed his Torah can be seen from the fact that when he published his sefer on Tisha B’Av, one of his sons asked him if he was permitted to learn it on Tisha B’Av. “I certainly hope not!” Rav Zev exclaimed. The sefer was Torah. It was Torah on Tisha B’Av, but it was still Torah, and Rav Zev took his responsibility to publish Torah very seriously.

 

When Rav Zev published a sefer, it was a true Yom Tov for him. He would usually make a family celebratory seudah and he would give leather-bound copies to his Rebbetzin and all of his children. He once explained, “You might wonder why I make a mesibah when I publish a sefer. The answer is that it is most choshuv to me.” His seforim weren’t written off the cuff. He invested his very being, his lifeblood, his heart and soul, into them.

 

Possibly the greatest tribute to the seforim was the fact that when one completes a ma’amar from the sefer Ze’ev Yitrof, one often wonders how anyone could have learned differently. Rav Zev wrote with such clarity and such wisdom. He was a master salesman, who built his chiddush and approach to a sugya with extraordinary clarity of thought that by the time one finished learning his approach, one thought that was the only way to understand the inyan.

 

“WE ARE HERE BECAUSE OF HIM”

 

Rav Zev continued to learn with utmost diligence and wrote his seforim until he was well into his 80s. He was a classic example of what the Gemara says about a talmid chochom, who, the older he gets, the wiser he becomes. During his last years, he was plagued by a number of significant health issues, and his family – his sons, his daughter and his daughters-in-law – assisted him with notable honor and devotion. Especially during the last period of his life, when he lived at the home of his son and daughter-in-law, Rav and Rebbetzin Chaim Yehoshua Hoberman, Rebbetzin Hoberman saw to it that his every need was met.

 

Over the course of Elul and the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, his health took a sharp turn for the worse. On the first day of Sukkos, the neshamah of Rav Zev Hoberman, a neshamah saturated with some 70 years of learning with incredible hasmadah, ascended to the Yeshiva Shel Maalah.

 

Rav Zev and Rebbetzin Esther Hoberman established a most exemplary Torah family. The Hoberman home was one that percolated with life. The Hoberman Shabbos table was fertile ground for many a hashkafah discussion, and all of their children followed in the illustrious path of their parents’ devotion to Torah, harbotzas haTorah and kiddush sheim Shomayim. Some of their children and grandchildren became prominent roshei yeshiva and maggidei shiur. All of them are talmidei chachomim devoted to Torah and the ideals that their parents stood for.

 

Rav Zev’s children are Rebbetzin Rochel Littman, whose husband, Rav Avrohom, is a maggid shiur in Yeshiva Bais Mikroh in Monsey; Rav Yisroel Mayer Hoberman of Lakewood; Rav Chaim Yehoshua Hoberman, rosh yeshiva of Mesivta of Long Beach; Rav Aharon Moshe Hoberman of Lakewood; Rav Eliyahu Hoberman, who serves in the development department of Yeshiva Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin in Flatbush; and Rav Avrohom Yitzchok Hoberman, a maggid shiur at the Yeshiva of Philadelphia.

 

The levaya was held at Bais Medrash Govoah of Lakewood and, in Eretz Yisroel, at the Lakewood chelkah of the bais hakevaros in Beit Shemesh.

 

It is appropriate to end this tribute to Rav Zev Hoberman by quoting one of the maspidim, who said, “Most of us will not and cannot be the masmid that he was, the brilliant and original thinker that he was. What we can be in awe of and try to emulate is his mesirus nefesh – his mesirus nefesh for harbotzas haTorah, more than half a century ago, when learning Torah was not the norm. We must stand in awe of the way he learned Torah mitoch hadechak, not eating fleishig during the week because there was no money and living with his family in the yeshiva dormitory. This mesirus nefesh was the foundation for the flourishing yeshivos of today. Without the likes of Rav Zev and Rebbetzin Esther Hoberman, the entire American Torah world would not have been built. All of the bnei yeshiva and indeed all American Jews owe them and the few others who were with them an eternal debt of gratitude.”

 

Yehi zichro boruch.

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