YWN regrets to inform you of the Petira of Hagaon HaRav Tzvi Dov Slanger ZATZAL, the Rosh Yeshiva of Beis Hamedresh and Mesivta of Baltimore.
Rav Slanger was hospitalized a few weeks ago after suffering a cardiac incident. His condition remained critical until his Petira on Tuesday afternoon.
Levaya details will be published when they become available to us.
The following info about Rav Slanger’s life was written by Eli Schlossberg on WhereWhatWhen.com:
As Europe was ablaze from 1938 until 1944, the Hungarian Jews were insulated from the treacherous Nazi terror. That changed in 1944, when Nazi troops occupied Hungary and Adolf Eichmann arrived in Budapest. Rav Slanger’s father was a businessman in the family-owned textile company, and the family lived a very comfortable life. In 1944, their home was designated as a Jewish home, and displaced Jewish neighbors were moved into their home.
The Slangers and their sons, Moshe Chaim, Zvi Dov, and Elyakim, escaped Europe by joining the “Kasztner train.” Rudolf Kasztner, a Jewish official, negotiated with Eichmann to trade the lives of almost 1,700 Jews for trucks that the German army greatly needed. Among the passengers on the train were the Satmar Rav, zt”l, Horav Yonoson Steif, zt”l, and Debreciner Rav, zt”l. Despite the promise of immediate freedom, the train’s passengers ended up in Bergen-Belsen for several months but were eventually taken to Switzerland and released. (For a more detailed account, see last month’s article at Wherewhatwhen.com.)
The Slangers eventually reached Palestine. There, the family lived in Givat Shmuel, a suburb of Bnei Brak. His youngest brother, David Meir, was born in Eretz Yisrael. Rav Slanger went to a boarding school run by the Mizrachi Women of America. He tells a poignant story of his first Yom Kippur in Eretz Yisrael, when only three boys exited the shul during Yizkor, as all the rest were unfortunately yesomim (orphans). On the occasion of Rav Slanger’s bar mitzva, boys walked a great distance to attend, because they wanted to experience a simcha where the child had parents.
Throughout Rav Slanger’s life, relationships with gedolim (great rabbis) influenced his personality as well as his goals and vision. At Yeshiva Zichron Yaakov, Harav Elya Lopian, zt”l, the mashgiach, had a major influence on Rav Slanger. After transferring to Slabodka Yeshiva, he regularly attended leil Shabbos shmuzin of Harav Eliyahu Dessler, zt”l, who was the mashgiach at the Ponevezh Yeshiva. (Rav Slanger once asked Rav Dessler if he should walk far out of the way and take a much longer route to avoid seeing chilul Shabbos in the pardesim, orchards, near his home. Rav Dessler told him it was best to take the longer route.) Rav Slanger also developed a very close relationship with Rav Schach, zt”l. Rav Slanger learned in both Kollel Slabodka and at the Kollel Chazon Ish.
Once in America, Rav Slanger spent a few years in Philadelphia. In New York, he befriended and taught with Rabbi Jacob Bobrowsky, zt”l, a huge talmid chacham, who was a rebbe at Baltimore’s Talmudical Academy for many years. Rav Slanger finally took a position at Yeshiva Ner Yisrael in Baltimore, where he served as a magid shiur (rebbe) and mashgiach at the Mesivta for 26 years. He taught many hundreds of talmidim in those years, many of whom have kept very close ties to their former Rebbe. The relationships, b”H, have lasted years after the bachurim left the Yeshiva.
Rav Slanger recalls a wonderful and close relationship with Rav Yaakov Yitzchak Ruderman, zt”l, and Rav Yaakov Weinberg, zt”l, as well as with Rabbi Naphtali Neuberger, z”l. Many of Rav Slanger’s rebbeim at Slabodka, in Bnei Brak, had been Rav Ruderman’s acquaintances and good friends at the Slobodka yeshiva in Europe. Rav Ruderman told Rav Slanger that he considered Rav Yecheskel Sarna, zt”l, Rav Yecheskel Abramsky, zt”l, and Rav Schach, zt”l, as three of the greatest gedolim of that era.
When Rav Slanger speaks of Rav Ruderman, you clearly see the love and respect he had for the Rosh Yeshiva. He enthusiastically tells the story of Rav Ruderman’s arrival to Slabodka at the young age of 13. When the Alter of Slabodka saw what an ilui (genius) he was, he asked Rav Yecheskel Sarna, a son-in-law of Rav Mordechei Epstein of Slabodka, to watch over this extraordinary bachur.
Rav Ruderman once told Rav Slanger that someone invited him to learn in a yeshiva just for iluyim (geniuses). He asked Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, the Alter of Slabodka, if it would be a good idea to learn in such a yeshiva. Rav Finkel took the Rosh Yeshiva over to a window and said it would be better to jump in the river below. The learning might be great, but Rav Finkel was concerned about the hashkafa. It turned out that the Alter of Slabodka was correct, as some who attended that yeshiva did not turn out well.
Rav Slanger also bonded with Rav Mordechai Gifter, zt”l, Rosh Yeshiva of Telz, with whom he would spend time when Rav Gifter came to visit his son-in-law, Rav Ephraim Eisenberg, z”l. Rav Slanger knew many of Rav Gifter’s peers from his years of learning in Eretz Yisrael.
In Baltimore, Rav Slanger forged wonderful relationships with Rav Amram Taub, zt”l, and Rav Yitzchak Sternhill, zt”l. Rav Sternhill, whom Rav Slanger describes as boki niflah, asked Rav Slanger to serve on the Vaad Hachinuch of Shearith Hapleita. They had a warm and ongoing relationship. Rav Amram Taub provided space for the Yeshiva to daven in his Beis Medrash on Rosh Hashanah. Although Rav Taub never accepted honors, he agreed to be honored at Rav Slanger’s Yeshiva banquet. Rav Slanger continues the relationship with Rav Taub’s son, Rav Shaya Taub.
Rav Slanger speaks fondly of all these people, and credits many of them with helping him develop his vision. But it was Rav Menachem Man Schach who had the biggest impact on Rav Slanger, advising and giving him chizuk throughout his life. Eventually, Rav Schach wrote him a letter encouraging him to start Bais HaMedrash and Mesivta of Baltimore. Rav Slanger met with Rav Schach, seeking advice as to how the Yeshiva would operate. They discussed limudei kodesh the derech of limud as well as the English studies for the Mesivta. They even discussed how important it would be for in-town bachurim to walk to the Yeshiva every Shabbos for learning sedarim to make sure that Shabbos at the Yeshiva was experienced by all, since many ninth- and tenth-grade bachurim reside at home.
Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg, Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Yisrael, was extremely helpful in many ways. He signed a letter with all the Rabbanim of Baltimore encouraging the start of the new Yeshiva. The Yeshiva Bais HaMedrash opened in Elul 5757 in a few classrooms at Ner Tamid Congregation. Four years later, the purchase of the Summit Country Club was a remarkable achievement. Several local balabatim were helpful in negotiating the purchase of the campus, an eight-and-a-half-acre property.
Rav Slanger put together a vibrant team of outstanding magidei shiur. Rabbi Dovid Strum (ninth grade), Rabbi Yisrael Shubert (tenth grade), Rabbi Shaul Sinsky (eleventh grade), and Rabbi Meir Rottenberg (twelfth grade) conduct the high school classes. Rabbi Chaim Ozer Kagan is the magid shiur of the Beis Medrash, and Rabbi Elyasuf Slanger is the menahel. Rabbi Shlomo Kinzer is the mashgiach.
Rav Slanger took tremendous pride in the wonderful limud (learning) and the beautiful tefila (prayer) that the bachurim of the Yeshiva practice with great hislahavus each day – as well as in the warmth of the Yeshiva and the closeness of the rebbes to all the talmidim.
Boruch Dayan HaEmmes…