By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5TJT.com
The following article was written l’ilui nishmas Rebbitzen Pesha Leibowitz a”h, the Rebbitzen of Rav Henoch Leibowitz zt”l, the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim in Queens.
This Shabbos, the 28th of Sivan marks the 16th yartzeit of Rebbitzen Pesha Leibowitz a”h, wife of Rav Henoch Leibowitz zt”l, the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim, and granddaughter of Rav Naftoli Trop zt”l. Rebbitzen Leibowitz was an extraordinary baalas chessed, who also assisted her husband in building many Mosdos of Torah. She also served as an aim haYeshiva, the mother to all of the Yeshiva’s Talmidim.
Often, when an out-of-town Talmid took sick, she took that Talmid into her home and took care of him until he recovered. After my surgery, I personally was a recipient of her kindness.
Rav Shmuel Birnbaum zt”l, the Rosh yeshiva of the Mirrer Yeshiva in Brooklyn, said of Rebbitzen Leibowitz that she not only did chesed, but she was “a shtik chessed” in and of herself – in other words, she embodied the essence of chessed herself.
Rebbitzen Leibowitz supported hundreds of families in Eretz Yisroel by raising money and materials to provide for their clothing needs. She also took it upon herself to completely support a specific family in Eretz Yisroel who had suffered tremendous yissurim completely. The family was related to her and the question arose whether one can give all one’s tzedakah to one family. Her husband, Rav Henoch posed the question to Rav Elyashiv zt”l approximately 34 years ago. Rav Elyashiv ruled that one can because of the notion of “mibsarcha al tisalaim – do not abandon your own flesh.”
Rebbitzen Pesha Leibowitz herself was an extraordinary mechaneches in her own right, and taught thousands of Bnos Yisroel for many years for Rav Meir Levi zt”l who headed the Bais Yaakov that was to be renamed Bais Yaakov D’Rav Meir.
After her grandfather had passed away at a young age, her father Rav Avrohom Trop zt”l took over the Yeshiva and was later the Karliner Rosh Yeshiva.
During the war, Rav Avrohom Trop and his family were in Siberia, where the difficulties were extraordinary. She had befriended a widowed mother and looked after her two children after the widow had passed away. Although she did not have her own children, she was the mother of all of the Yeshivos Talmidim.
Rebbitzen Pesha Leibowitz is sorely missed by the thousands of Talmidim that were close to her. In the merit of her Neshama, the author would like to present the following 7 Halachos from Rav Chaim Kanievsky.
- Lighting Shabbos lights is an obligation on account of Onaig Shabbos – Deriving pleasure from Shabbos (Shoneh Halachos 263:1).
- One should make it beautiful on account of the concept of Hiddur Mitzvah – making Mitzvos beautiful. By doing so, one merits children who will be Talmidei Chachomim. It is proper for a woman to daven after the lighting and the bracha that Hashem should grant her sons who gleam with Torah (ibid).
- Lamps should be lit in every room that one enters on Shabbos, at least one – even if no one eats there. The purpose is so that one not stumble onto wood or stone. The bracha should only be recited on the lamp that is lit where one eats (ibid #4).
- On Shabbos the bracha is recited after one lights. On Yom Tov it is recited beforehand (ibid #18).
- If many families are eating in one area, the custom is for each family to light with their own candelabra – even though they are all in one room. Nonetheless, two families should not recite a blessing on one candelabra with a number of branches (ibid #21).
- There is no need to fan the wick. However, the custom is to light the wick and then extinguish it so that the fire will catch better. The husband should do this earlier (ibid #12). The Chazon Ish said that this does not need to be done in modern times since the wicks light well without it. One who does it should make sure that the majority of the wick is lit (ibid #13).
- If she is unsure as to whether or not she recited the blessing – she should not recite the blessing again (ibid #14)
The halachos here were culled from the new Rav Chaim Kanievsky siddur (the Shabbos volume) put out by his nephew, Rav Lipa Israelson, grandson of Rav Elyashiv zt”l.
The author can be reached at [email protected]