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Rav Lazer Platchinsky zt”l on his 15th Yahrtzeit

By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for

Today is the 15th Yartzeit of HaGaon HaRav Eliezer Manoach Platchinsky zatzal (1912 -2007), brother-in-law of Rav Elyashiv zt”l, grandson of the Alter of Slabodka, and  a rosh yeshiva in Jerusalem for nearly six decades. He was one of the leading talmidim of the Mir Yeshiva in Poland.  This author was zoche to hear shiurim from him between 5741-5743.

Reb Lazer zatzal was close to the leading Gedolim of Europe and Eretz Yisroel of the 20th century.  From the Chazon Ish, to the Rogetchover, to the Brisker Rav to Rav Mordechai Pogromovsky – Reb Lazer developed close relationships with them all.

In a program that began in 1929 (and perhaps even earlier in 1927), groups of elite bochurim from the Mir Yeshiva began travelling to Brisk to hear shiurim from the Brisker Rav – Rav Yitzchok Zev Soloveitchik zt”l (Rav Velvel).  The idea was the brainchild of both Rav Leizer Yudel, the Mir Rosh Yeshiva, and Rav Yeruchem Levovitz, the Yeshiva’s mashgiach.  They arrived in Brisk after their minds were solidly worked on and thoroughly developed.  Rav Yeruchem worked on their hearts as well.  Their only desire was to serve Hashem.  Rav Lazer was among the elite of this group.

The Mir Yeshiva granted these talmidim that studied in Brisk extra fellowship funds in order to ensure that they could study worry-free. Rav Moshe Shmuel Shapira explained that the Mir Yeshiva had some four hundred students.  “Fifty of them were worthy and capable of being Roshei Yeshiva – and not just any Roshei Yeshiva – but giants. We really have no conception of who they were – they clung to Torah with no idea of the concept of gashmius.” The group that went to the Brisker Rav were the crème de la crème. The top of those fifty chosen few.

They studied and heard shiurim in the seder of Kodshim.  Rav Dovid Soloveitchik related that the Mir bochurim would remain in the Beis Midrash and study all day.  Toward the evening, they would enter the room of the Brisker Rav and hear a 2 ½ hour shiur.

It was 1937, when Reb Lazer was selected by the rosh yeshiva, Rabbi Eliezer Yehuda Finkel, to join the group of Mir students sent to learn under the Brisker Rav in Brisk. His group included Rabbi Aryeh Leib Malin, the future Rosh Yeshiva of Bais HaTalmud, and the Brisker Rav’s future son-in-law, Rabbi Yechiel Michel Feinstein. Rav Naftoli Wasserman and Rav Simcha Scheps, Rav Henoch Fishman.  Rav Yeruchem Gurelick came from Radin.  Reb Lazer became a protégé of the Brisker Rav, a relationship which continued when the two arrived in yerushalayim. Afterward, Reb Lazer returned to the Slabodka yeshiva.

Reb Lazer survived the Holocaust through the efforts of Rabbi Mordecai Dubin(1889-1957), a towering leader of Latvian Yiddishkeit. Rabbi Dubin was both the founder and driving force of Agudath Israel in Latvia, and a leading Jewish member of Latvia’s parliament.  The Latvians refused to extend his passport.  Rabbi Dubin got his passportextended  – without which he could not exit.

Reb Lazer immigrated to Mandatory Palestine in 1940. In teh beginning he studied in Heichal HaTalmud.  Rav Isaac Scher wished to start a Slabidka in yerushalayim in taf shin aleph, bais In the early 1940s he studied together with other noteworthy scholars such as Rav Shneur Kotler, Rav Chaim Kreiswirth, and Rav Elazar Goldschmidt.

In 1944, Rav Platchinsky  married his Rebbitzen – Ettel, the daughter of the tzaddik Rav Aryeh Levin.  This match made him brother-in-law to Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv. He and his wife had six daughters and one son, Shlomo Yehudah.

In the mid-1940s, Reb Lazer corresponded in Torah back and forth with the Chazon Ish of Bnei Brak (some 80 letters are extant).

In 1946, his uncle, Rabbi Issac Sher, called on him to help re-establish the Slabodka Yeshiva in Bnei Brak with Rav Mordechai Shulman. In 1948, he joined the staff of Yeshivas Beis Aryeh, founded by his father-in-law, Rabbi Aryeh Levin, in Jerusalem. Rav Levin asked that Reb Lazer be appointed rosh yeshiva. In addition to teaching in the yeshiva, Reb Lazer delivered mussar shmuessin from Hebron Yeshiva and Mir Yeshiva.

These talmidim included Rav Aviezer Piltz, Rav Baruch Mordechai Ezrachi, Rav Mattisyahu Solomon, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, Rav Chaim Sarna, and Rav Moshe Shapiro.During the 1948 War of Independence, Reb Lazer delivered shiurim at Yeshivas Heichal HaTalmud in Tel Aviv. toras moshe

In 1972 he was asked to deliver a shiur klali (general lecture) in Yeshivas HaNegev and its kollel until tof shin nun hey.  Reb Lazer established Kollel Shalom Yehuda in Kiryat Sanz, Jerusalem, in memory of his father.

He passed away on Isru Chag of Sukkos on October 6, 2007, at the age of 96. He was buried on Har Hazeisim.  His seforim on Shas are called Shlom Yehudah.  Two of his sons-in-law are Rav Leibel Lisker shlita and Rav Shaya Cohen shlita.

The author can be reached at [email protected]

One Response

  1. I knew him well from the times he would come to America each year he would spend a month by his oldest son-in-law Rav Shaya Cohen shlita.
    It is well known that the Chazon Ish would send his closest talmidim to learn by Reb Leizer commenting, “One who wishes to become a Lamdan should “talk in learning” with Reb Leizer at least once a week.” I myself heard from rav chaim kanievsky ztl that he also would go to speak to him in learning and that is how Reb Leizer ended up arranging his shidduch with Reb Leizer’s neice Rebbetzin batsheva.
    The Chazon ish writes to Reb Leizer in one of his letters (printed in sefer shlom Yehudah) to him “it seems to me that my sefer (Chazon ish) waited many years for mar shlita (Reb Leizer) to look into it.”
    In Rav Dovid Soloveichiks hesped for Reb Leizer (printed in Meshulchan Melachim) he said, “he was the greatest talmid chachom in the generation. With his passing he did not leave behind anyone like him.” I myself heard the same words from rav Elya Ber vachfogel “לא הניח אחריו כמותו” and from Rav Shaya Cohen in the hesped held for him in the Mir Yeshiva.

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