Rav Belsky, zt’l, was a remarkable talmid chochom, a posek for the world’s largest kashrus agency and the rabbi of Camp Agudah in Liberty, New York for many years.
Rav Belsky spent his formative years in Yeshiva Torah Vodaath, whose founders included his grandfather Reb Binyomin Wilhelm. He was a talmid of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l and later learned at Beis Medrash Elyon in Monsey.
He received his semicha from Yeshiva Torah Vodaath in 1962 and later received shimush from Rav Moshe.
Rav Belsky’s breadth of knowledge was extraordinary. He was well known for his recall of every Tosfos in Shas as well as his familiarity with Tanach and exceptional grasp of halacha, giving him the knowledge to pasken countless shaylos on a wide variety of issues.
Rav Belsky’s ability to calculate complex mathematical calculations that pertained to halacha was also well known.
A beloved figure at Camp Agudah, Rav Belsky was adept at giving deep gemara and halacha shiurim as well in educating campers in worldly matters. With a solid grasp of astronomy, botany and biology, he would often lead campers on trips where he was able to identify trees, plants, insects and constellations.
That same breadth of knowledge made Rav Belsky an authority in the world of kashrus where he served as one of two poskim at the Orthodox Union. He had a deep grasp of the manufacturing process and had no qualms about getting physically involved in the investigation of a product seeking kashrus supervision.
Rav Belsky, who was also a mohel, went to great lengths to provide both halachic guidance and support to those who came to seek his counsel.
In one instance, a complicated question arose when a husband passed away leaving his wife both childless and a widow. Since the man had a brother, the possibility of doing the mitzvah of chalitza arose, but as the brother was mentally retarded it was unknown if he was eligible to play a part in the mitzvah.
Rav Belsky visited with the family of the niftar, making a determination about the status of the brother while comforting and consoling the parents on the untimely death of their son. In fact the parents were so grateful to Rav Belsky for his care and concern that they thanked the individual who had contacted Rav Belsky who they referred to as a “wonderful holy rabbi.”
Just a few months ago, Rav Belsky arranged for an agunah to receive a get from her husband who had violated the trust of numerous young people. Rav Belsky’s unique personality played a instrumental role in this endeavor, as reported to this author by the agunah herself.
Three years ago Rav Belsky developed a life-threatening illness, but a miraculous recovery allowed him to resume his many activities at the yeshiva, the OU and Camp Agudah.
Rav Belsky’s imprint on Torah Judaism in the past half century will certainly have an impact for generations to come. Nafla Ateres Rosheinu.
The author can be reached at email@example.com.
Below Video: Rabbi Belsky paying a Shivah call to Gabriel Sassoon who lost 7 of his kids in a tragic house fire in 2015.