Rosh Yeshivas Ponevezh HaGaon HaRav Baruch Dov Povarsky made a special trip from Bnei Brak to Hertziliya on Monday evening to pay a shiva visit to the Herzog family.
President Yitzchak Herzog and his siblings were sitting shiva for their mother, Aura Herzog, z’l, who passed away last week at the age of 97.
The reason the elderly Rosh Yeshivah went to the effort to be menachem avel shortly after recovering from COVID was out of a deep sense of hakaras hatov to the president’s grandfather, HaRav Yitzchak HaLevi Herzog, z’tl, who served as Israel’s Chief Rabbi from 1936 until his death in 1959.
During the Holocaust, HaRav Herzog left no stone unturned in attempting to save European Jewry, even traveling to the US at great risk and meeting with President Roosevelt. According to his biography, several people noted that Rav Herzog’s hair turned white following the meeting, which he deemed a failure.
After the war, HaRav Herzog dedicated himself to saving Jewish children, especially babies, bringing them back from their places of hiding throughout all of Europe, to their families or to Jewish orphanages, even meeting with the Pope in his effort to rescue children hidden in Christian monasteries. According to modest estimates, HaRav Herzog saved at least 12,000 children.
HaRav Herzog also had a hand in the rescue of HaRav Dov’s father, HaGaon HaRav Dovid Povarksy, z’tl, and his family, from Nazi Europe, when HaRav Dov was still a young boy.
When the Povarsky family arrived in Israel, HaRav Dovid, z’tl, and his family went to visit HaRav Herzog, z’tl, and express their appreciation, and a close friendship developed between the two Rabbanim and their families.
During the War of Independence in 1948, when Jerusalem was being bombed by the Jordanians, HaRav Herzog sent his in-laws, HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Yitzchak Hillman z’tl, and his wife, to Bnei Brak with a letter for the Povarsky family, asking them to tend to all their needs. HaRav Dov, then a young yeshiva bochur, personally took care of the Hillmans throughout the war, during which they lived in a building owned by Ponevezh.
The close relationship continued throughout the years, and President Issac Herzog often visits HaRav Dov for advice and a bracha.
When a number of years ago, President Herzog dedicated himself to the task of publishing the writings of his great-grandfather, HaRav Hillman, zt’l, he turned to HaRav Dov for guidance and advice.
After hearing that HaRav Povarski was on his way to the shiva house, the President’s staff quickly made special preparations for his arrival, allowing the Rosh Yeshivah to enter from a side entrance straight into the aveilim tent. President Herzog introduced the Rosh Yeshivah to his siblings and explained the special connection between their families.
President Herzog and his brother, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Mike Herzog, requested a bracha from the Rosh Yeshivah, who replied that Shemiras HaTorah and the mesorah of their forefathers is the only guarantee of bracha.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)
Wow! Such a zchus!
If I am not mistaken Harav Herzog gave a shiur in Torah Vodaath. ( as did Harav Yoseph later on). He was known as the baki of the generation and had what to say about Techeles as well.
Perhaps the Rosh Yeshiva is also trying to be mekarev them.
Harav Meir Kahane HYD used to call Chaim Herzog “Chometz ben Yayin”.