Thursday, February 5, 2009

Rabbi Noach Weinberg, ztz"l

Today, the Jewish people lost one of our most devoted teachers, a man who truly loved all, and sought to help all: Rabbi Noach Weinberg, zt"l.

My parents were involved with Rabbi Weinberg's "Aish haTorah" yeshiva as long ago as the late '70s-early '80s. I have a photograph somewhere of me sitting on my parents' couch, next to Rabbi Weinberg, a Steinsaltz gemara open in front of us. I was maybe 9 or 10 years old, clad in a "Yerushalayim" t-shirt and shorts, sitting next to a great rosh yeshiva who took the time to talk to me.

Seven or eight years later, I attended a day-long "Discovery" seminar for yeshiva students at Aish haTorah, and then a Shabbat at the yeshiva two summers after that.

In later years I became a skeptic of some of the Aish haTorah program, and once had the chance to question Rav Noach about aspects of the Torah Codes. Although I couldn't accept his answers - I remain a skeptic - it was clear to me that he genuinely believed in the program, and in applying it to wake Jews to their magnificent heritage.

Over the years I had the opportunity to hear Rav Noach speak several times, both live and otherwise. He was always electric, with his hearty smile, his wonderful accent, his love of people... he was one of those people who make an impact on you because of their sincere warmth, even before you get to their message.

To me, Rabbi Weinberg was a Moshe and Aharon rolled into one - he brought Torah to the nation from Har Sinai, and he taught it with a יקוב הדין את ההר pursuit of righteousness, but he was also a lover of shalom and a lover of people, מעורב בדעת עם הבריות. I know many Jews who were brought to Torah by that exquisite combination of traits.

Rav Noach lived a life of קידוש השם, sanctifying Gd's Name, as it is described in the gemara in Yoma (86a): Displaying Torah, and displaying a love for others, and so bringing credit to Gd's Name.

I am certain there will be detractors, as well; there are always detractors, if you do anything worth noticing. But none of them will be able to legitimately deny his love for others, his love for Torah, and his all-consuming commitment to Klal Yisrael.

We were blessed to have Rabbi Weinberg among us as long as we did. He was a present to us from the דיין אמת (the Judge of Truth) who has now removed him from among us. May He send us more Rabbi Weinbergs, soon.

יהי זכרו ברוך, May his memory be for a blessing.


  1. saw that ur looking for candidates for an oureach position. only for couples? Brad

  2. Sorry, Brad - couples only. We need a man to learn one-on-one with men, and a woman to learn one-on-one with women. I believe that having co-ed adult chavrutot is a mistake.

  3. Great post. What do you parents think about Aish currently in terms of its' growth? Do you know if R Weinberg had dreamed of so many branches and the large exposure on the web?

  4. Hi Neil,
    I believe he did envision exactly that growth and exposure, although I don't know when that became a part of the plan. But he was driven to reach as many people as possible.