Jerusalem - Torah World Mourns Rabbi Rafael Shmuelevitz
Jerusalem - Jews worldwide are mourning the passing of Rabbi Rafael Shmuelevitz, who passed away today at Shaare Zedek Hospital at the age of 78.
A much loved rosh yeshiva at the Mir in Jerusalem, Rabbi Shmuelevitz earned a worldwide reputation as a talmid chochom and had been battling serious illness for several years.
As previously reported on VIN News, Rabbi Shmuelevitz, who suffered from both Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Myasthenia Gravis, had participated in an experimental stem cell treatment at Hadassah Medical Center in 2012 with promising results.
The formerly wheelchair bound rosh yeshiva who had been incapable of speaking clearly responded favorably to the clinical trial, showing substantial improvements for six months before the effects of the protocol began to fade. A second course of the NurOwn treatment, developed by Israel’s BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics, yielded even better results.
Rabbi Shmuelevitz was touted as the poster child for the experimental treatment because he showed the greatest improvement of all 24 patients in the clinical trial which slowed the progress of ALS but could not halt the dreaded disease, which is currently incurable.
Rabbi Shmuelevitz was born in Poland into a family of Torah royalty. The son of Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz, the famed mashgiach at the Mir, and his wife, Rebbetzin Chana Miriam, daughter of Rabbi Eliezer Yehuda Finkel, rosh yeshiva of the Mir, Rabbi Shmuelevitz was a descendant of both the Alter of Novardok and the Alter of Slobodka.
Rabbi Shmuelevitz distinguished himself in his youth for his diligence, spending both days and nights in the beis medrash and after the World War II invasion of Poland, Rabbi Shmuelevitz was with the Mir as it relocated to Vilna, Japan and eventually Shanghai.
After the war, the senior Rabbi Shmeulevitz traveled to America with his family for a short time, eventually settling in Israel to help his father in law establish the Mirrer Yeshiva in Jerusalem.
Rabbi Shmuelevitz married the daughter of Rabbi Avraham Farbstein, the rosh yeshiva of Yeshivat Chevron, a position that Rabbi Shmuelevitz later took on. After his father’s petira, Rabbi Shmuelvitz left Chevron and succeeded him as one of the Mirrer roshei yeshiva.
Rabbi Shmuelevitz’s shiurim were known for their depth, yet he also had the ability to explain a complicated sugya clearly so that it could be easily understood. Known for his insistence on writing down his chidushim, Rabbi Shmuelevitz wrote thousands of pages of notes on the entire Shas.
His breadth of knowledge made him an invaluable asset as one of the editors of the Encyclopedia Talmudit, an ongoing project that began over seven decades ago to summarize halachic topics discussed in the Gemara alphabetically and currently numbers over 35 volumes.
Some of Rabbi Shmuelevitz’s shiurim have already been compiled by his talmidim in a sefer titled Shiurei Reb Rafael.
Rabbi Shmuelevitz taught thousands of talmidim in his lifetime, saying a monthly shiur at the Brachfeld branch of the Mir when it opened and giving shiur in the Friedman beis medrash in Jerusalem, which was well known as one of the top batei medrash in the Mir.
Every night groups of bochurim could be found in Rabbi Shmuelevitz’s home, delving further into the sugyas they had learned in order to gain better clarity and when Rabbi Shmuelevitz would come to the beis medrash in the morning, he would be surrounded by tens of students and avreichim who would seek further elucidation on the Gemara they had learned.
As his illness progressed over the past several years, Rabbi Shmuelevitz began to deteriorate and while the experimental treatments he underwent helped slow the progress of his degenerative neurological conditions, they could not provide a cure. Rabbi Shmuelevitz appointed his son Rabbi Yaakov Shmuelevitz as his successor in his lifetime, taking over for his father when he was unable to continue at the Mirrer.
According to Israeli news site Kikar HaShabbat, Rabbi Shmuelevitz had been hospitalized at Shaare Zedek several days ago, with family members gathered around his bedside, as students at the Mirrer davened for his recovery.
The levaya is expected to take place tomorrow morning from the Mirrer Yeshiva in the Beis Yisroel section of Jerusalem.
More of today's headlines“Bronx, NY - New York City police say an off-duty officer shot and wounded a suspect during an armed robbery in the Bronx. The officer, a housing sergeant, was walking...” Bronx, NY - Off-duty NYPD Officer Robbed At Gunpoint “Tel Aviv - Islamic State's battleground setbacks in Syria have increased the chance of an attack by the insurgents or their allies on Israel and Jordan, Israel's...” Tel Aviv - Israel Says Islamic State Could Attack It And Jordan After Syria Setbacks