BREAKING NEWS: Body of Naftoli Smolyansky Found!


nss.jpg9/01/08 3:12PM EST: [UPDATES IN EXTENDED ARTICLE] Credible sources tell YWN that the missing body of 39-year-old Naftoli Smolyansky Z”L, who went missing while on a boating trip in Lake Piru, California has just been found.

Naftoli was in a boat on the lake with his 9-year-old son and his two daughters, ages 5 and 7 last Monday afternoon, when his youngest daughter fell overboard. He jumped in to save her, and managed to push his daughter back into the boat, but he R”L went under and did not resurface.

Hundreds of people joined the massive search by air, land, and on the lake – and a few moments ago was B”H found.

The Levaya details will be posted as soon as they are made available to us.

Sources told YWN that approximately 5:00AM on Monday morning, a group of 10 Rabbonim gathered on a boat on the lake, and performed a Segula in the hope of finding the body of Naftali Z”L. Apparently, a flat bread was baked in his Zechus, and the bread was set afloat on the lake with a lit candle on it.

Certain Tehillim and other Tefillos were then said until the bread stopped moving. At that precise location a stone was dropped into the water, and shortly later the body rose to the surface!

sm.jpgUPDATE 10:30PM EST: The Levaya is scheduled to take place on Tuesday morning at 11:00AM in the Moshe Ganz Hall – 365 North La Brea Avenue. The Kevura will be at Mt. Carmel. (Click on image to ENLARGE)

NOTE (PHOTOS): Click HERE for exclusive photos of the amazing Kiddush Hashem at the search – including 30 photos taken from a search helicopter by Queens Hatzolah members joining the search. Original articles of this tragic story can be found by clicking HERE and HERE.

(Yehuda Drudgestein – YWN / YW-32)


  1. Wow! Which rabbonim? This is truly unbelievable! This is a tragic story, but I don’t know of any other way that my dear friend, Naftoli, would have wanted to leave the world in.. other than being a source of tremendous chizuk and achdus in our community, and now a tremendous source of chizuk in bitachon. These are ideals which he lived and breathed. May he be a meilitz yosher for us all…

  2. B”H the body was found – My heart goes out to the family.
    what a terrible tragedy!
    The family, especially the almana and children should have a nechama.

    But regarding the methods that YW claims were used to locate the body as a religious jew, I cannot accept – תמים תהיה עם ה’ אלקיך
    We are not a religion of witchcraft!

  3. B”H that he was found. However, the story presented by YW according to “sources” sounds strange and bizarre. “Notblackorwhite” (comment #5) is correct that we are not a religion of witchcraft, and it is difficult to accept such stories because of Tamim Tihyeh. The YW should not print such information unless it is really verified. Publicizing it in the name of anonymous sources is irresponsible.

  4. the story is true- the only correction being is that the stone that was dropped was from avery big persian Rabbi in LA who wrote something on the stone and the stone was dropped in the water. This was all instructed by big rabbonim in North America (Ashkenazim). they were about to do this in Canada last year. 10 rabbonim were actually on the way up to the lake in Toronto to do this when the body was found by a fisherman ( a year after the drowning occured)
    This has nothing to do with witchcraft, rather on the aitzah of gedolai hador
    may the family have a nbechama and only simchas for klal yisroel

  5. To #’s 5 and 9.

    This has nothing to do with witchcraft.

    The gemara many times throughout shas speaks about Segulas for certain things in different situations. Do your research before commenting and accusing YW for posting nonsense.

  6. Maybe the Baal Mofais was the Park Ranger who said last week that drowning victims at that lake usually surface a week to thirteen days after the event.

    He called it exactly right.

    It is unknown if he is Persian, Sefardi, or Ashkenazi

  7. I dont know whats true and whats not….i just spoke to someone VERY involved and this may not be the true story. if its not, shame on yeshiva World. they should be more credible, especially on something like this. But unlike the other ‘frum’ jew who doesnt beilieve in “Magic” whether it happened or not the Torah Does Possess these powers and always has. Rosh chodesh Elul…

  8. it is true- i have first hand knowlege- it just is not publicized- therabbonim purposely went to the lake early in the morning before all volunteers came up to the lake. since it is rosh codesh elul please dont accuse YWN odf anything. most people do not know if the story but it 100 percent happened. and the body rose in the exact same spot the bread stopped floating and where the stone was thrown down. it is all from shemayim..

  9. All of you
    תמים תהיה עם ה’ אלקיך people are making a mistake. The story says the body floated up in the exact spot of the bread stopping and the rock dropping. No park ranger I know can do that! Haven’t nisim happened before? We are klal yisrael, and Hashem can do anything. Work on your emunah, rabosay! I’m incensed at the kefirah undertones in some of these comments. Hashem performs a nes for us, and instead of getting chizuk from it, some of our yidden feel the need to minimize and ridicule it!

    Some very chushuve rabbonim went out to the lake to do this segula, more on the families insistence than anything else. They left the lake at 8AM and marked a spot they thought was the spot where he would be. At 11:30 some divers were on their way to dive in that spot(divers that were asked by our askanim to work on the weekend) when a park ranger spotted the body floating 300 yards away. Whether this segula worked or not, the real story here is the selfless people who spent hours upon hours searching for someone they knew died, but hopefully bring to kever yisroel as soon as possible. These choshuve rabbonim and kollel yungerleit were but one part of the Los Angeles communities efforts. The many hundreds of hour spent on this search, headed up by our very own Hatzalah is a testament to Mi K’amcha Yisroel. We dont leave our dead alone on the field even if there is but a very small chance at recovery. The hours that men left their families and closed their businesses in order so an almanah does not have to sit shiva for another day is the real story! The fact that many Kolel Yungerleit spent their last week of bain hazemanim on the lake is the kiddush hashem we should advertise. The fact that hatzalah had a minyan there every single morning as well as a minyan for shabbos is what should be talked about.
    One hundred and fifty people searching every day is what should be written about.
    We should just remember that we in Los Angeles can all say tonight the beracha of Hatov V’hameitiv(harugei baitar)with a whole heart, as we simultaneously nebach, must say Baruch Dayan Haemes.

  11. #20. Very well put.
    FACT#1 – The body surfaced about 150 yards from the stone/bread situation.
    FACT#2 – I am not sure how YW got a hold of this story (especially referencing the location of where the body was found) so quickly but I assure you that the location of where the body was found was not known by ANYONE since all Hatzolah organized boats were called off of the water not in view of the body. Only two Hatzolah members knew the exact wherabouts and were involved with the identification. This story was posted before the two members were in contact with anyone else. These members did not report to YW.Maybe the Lake Piru Ranger called it in to YW?

    The bottom line: Thank G-d the body was found which is bittersweet, especially for all those volunteering and putting so much effort into this operation. I am proud to be an LA resident and a Hatzolah member because of this massive Kiddush Hashem.

  12. this story is 100% authentic. all the non-believers can go on their merry way.

    i was involved in the search on a daily basis, and i know first hand that its totally true.

  13. Boruch Dayan Emmes. I am part of LA Hatzalah, and I can assure you all that this story is accurate.
    The only thing we are trying to find out is how YW got it!

    My heart goes out to the family, but everyone should stop and look at the amazing amount of chesed that was done in the past week because of Naftali Z”L!

    May we never hear of such tzaar again.

  14. all I can say is BARUCH HASHEM!! it is sad that he was not found alive, but the bracha of finding the mais after “only” one week cannot be overemphasized. In Toronto, a man was missing for over TEN months, until his guf was found. Imagine the anguish of his family and friends, compounded for such a long time.
    Interestingly, this well known segulah played a part in finding him, too.
    May the family find some nechama and strength as they begin to move on.

  15. Spoke with a “mekor musmach” from LA and was told that comment #20 is the real story and as a matter of fact the city of LA was zocheh to host this weekend one of the gedolei hador R’ Yitzchok Scheiner Shlita and they were very “mechabed” him and helped him out financially by way of supporting his Yeshiva. This in it of itself is a great zechus and I am sure that it was a contributing factor why the Ribono Shel Olam had rachmunus on the family and on the city. I was also told that the Rosh Hayeshiva is aware of this segulah and he said that it is brought down in seforim. May we only hear besuros tovos from now on.

  16. For all those who posted about what happened in Canada.

    From what I was told one of the great Rosh Kollel spoke to a few people (physicists, oceanographers and others) who estimated where the body would end up based on the weather that day and the tide and currents.

    Either way Baruch Dayan Emes. It’s extremely sad. May the family find the strength to get through this and may HaShem help them.

  17. WITCHCRAFT? Did you go to cheder when you were younger. Were you not raised in a frum community? Do you know what a segulah means. Oh, but you quoted a Pasuk, how beautiful. To all the liberal freethinkers who are more enlightened than us please spew your stuff somewhere else. If you have to post on this website at least dont quote a pasuk maybe quote Socrates or Plato, they are more in synch with you. I am not saying that this segulah helped in this situation all I am saying is that Yiddishkeit has a lot of such segulos and it takes a certain type of person to dismiss them as witchcraft. How I would love to sit by his shabbos table and hear his opinions about learning in kollel and such things. Isnt it easy to spot such people? I am sure you have it all figured out. Yehi Ratzon that we should all get along.

  18. I am told that we spent Simchas TOrah last year together dancing in Harav M. Twerski’s Shul.

    TO his Rebbitzen and children and Her sisters who we know for many years- Hamkom Yenachem Eschem Bsoch Sharey Tzion V’Yerushalayim.

    The entire Milwaukee Community is in shock.

  19. do people understand what a big nes it was that the body was found and now his neshama could rest in peace. and now we should continue to argue about this story why should we argue we should just be thankfull that our tefillos where awnsered.

  20. ****to #29, Thankyou for putting it so nicely! How is mashiach EVER going to come if we dnt believe! Plus I also heard from a hatzola member involved the whole story is true but its missing one detail. the Segula was done Three times before his guf was found. I still cant get over the fact that obviously there is some reason he had to be found on Rosh Chodesh Elul.

  21. The story is 100% percent true to all extents.

    One of the reason that we think the body did not come up right away was cause there were Kohanim on the boat and they were very concerned if they be on top of a body.

    Some Rabbanim on the boat were crying as they were doing this. This segulah is not only a segulah, imagine 10 of the most known religious and anav Rabbis in the Los Angeles went there ( half Ashkenazim and half Sephardi’s ) They read Tehilim there on the site and some even cried and asked Hashem for mercy on the body and his soul and that he should not suffer any longer. This was not a hokes pokes. After they left the sight they went and daven shacharit and they went home, about 30 mins later from the time they got home they got a call that divers went into the lake and were getting ready to go to the spot into the lake that they saw the body floating. The spot that the body was floating was where the bread had stopped. The reason we know how the body came up where the bread was stopped was because the rangers threw down an anker with a balloon on top so they can see the spot and have the divers dive down there.

    Now another thing that a lot of people don’t know, except the people that were there know is that at the same time when they put the bread on water they also threw a stone that had some writing on a piece of paper wrapped around it, which was thrown into the lake. The writing was done by one of the most holiest Sephardi Rabbi in Los Angeles that not many know about, and the reason for throwing the stone there was for the body to come up. The segulah for the bread was to only locate of the place where the body is in the bottom of the lake.

    Now everyone has they’re opinion and belief, you can believe that the Segulah helped or not, but the bottom line is that if you think it wasn’t the Segulah you have to believe that it was the Tefilots of the Rabbanim that went there early morning and prayed for the body so it would not suffer no more.

    Just another note at the time of getting of the boats the rangers and Hatzalah people said that we should just wait and let nature due its course, which the rangers said it would take usually about 25 days or so for the body of a person to come up after it had drowned and that 5% of the times they do not come up.

  22. I cannot BELIEVE what I am reading! What is the matter with most of you commnentors. If you have all forgot the point in hand here is that somebody just DIED. A wife has lost her husband and several children have become orphans. And you are all busy arguing about whether sources are real and bickering like small children. This comment site is meant for comforting the family, who I believe will eventually read this article and comments. Is this what they are supposed to be reading.

    May Hashem provide the family with much comfort at this sad time.

  23. actually, the segula was planned several times in Toronto but for “some” reason it didn’t take place earlier. Hashem has His plans and everything has its time.

  24. I think we can all agree that witchcraft and sorcery are explicitly forbidden by the Torah. (Of course what falls under that issur is a matter of halachic debate). The gemarra and other sources discuss many different segulas and the rishonim and poskim discuss why these are muttar. A good recent overview is in Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society Number LIV, Fall 2007 page 63. The conclusion of many is that while some segulas are mutar in some circumstances, it is preferable for us to turn our attention to tefillah and maasim tovim. That’s what Tamim tihyeh means.

  25. My heart goes out to the almanah and the children. May Hashem protect all of you for all of your days and never show you any more pain.

    Your father was a true hero and did what any parent would have done. If my child was in the waters in a lake, I would not have thought twice about jumping in. This can happen to anyone. It could have been me. Naftali, Alav Hashalom was a sacrifice and too precious for this world. Hashem wanted him back.

    Hamakom Yenachem etchem b’toch sha’arei yerushalayim.

    As for the Rabbanim who performed the Segulah – Hashem should reward you and we know you are true Tzaddikim. We are fortunate to have you reside here in Los Angeles. Knowing that you’re here gives me more strength. Hashem Y’varech Etchem.

  26. As good Jews, it is best to leave all negative comment aside. What is important is to assure the physical and emotional welfare of Naftoli’s, o”h, widow and children. Such a tragedy hits home after the shiva when the visitors are gone and the family is alone. The almana and the yetomim must be cared for with kindness from neighbors, friends and family. The children, especially those who were with their beloved father when the incident occurred will need plenty of emotional help. This should be the focus of the entire L.A. Jewish Community.