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Rav Reuven Marga l Iot

Rav Reuven Marga l Iot

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Published by Pesach Wolicki

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Published by: Pesach Wolicki on Aug 15, 2013
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08/15/2013

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“I found in the responsa of the Geonim that on the day that a great man died, the day isestablished for his honor. Each and every year when that day arrives, TalmideiChachamim gather from all around and come to his grave with the rest of the people andthey study Torah there.” (Rashi, Yevamos 122a)Rav Reuven Margaliot was born on the 7
th
of Kislev 5650 – November 30 1889 – anddied on the 7
th
of Elul 5731 – August 28 1971. He was the author of over 60 books. Mostnotable of his works are Margaliot Hayam on Tractate Sanhedrin and Nitzotzei Zohar.He was a great scholar who combined astounding memory with sharp straight thinking.When one reads his books carefully one can not help but to be awestruck by the breadthof his knowledge. Despite his towering scholarship, he lived a simple life, the last 35 of which were spend as librarian of the Rambam library in Tel Aviv. The Chazon Ish oncesaid of Rav Margaliot, “Rav Reuven does not know how much he knows.”A few months ago, after studying a piece of Rav Reuven’s Torah, a thought occurred tome. Rav Reuven and his wife did not merit any children. In addition, Rav Reuven wasnever a practicing rabbi or teacher. He did not head a yeshiva or synagogue. He did notlecture in any institution. Despite his prolific contribution to the world of Torah, RavReuven did not formally have any students. Without children or students, I reasoned, whois visiting his grave on his yahrzeit? I shared this thought with my close friend RavYisrael Herczeg who shares my affection for Rav Reuven’s unique scholarship. We madethe decision to visit Rav Reuven’s grave on his next yahrzeit, the 7
th
of Elul.To locate his grave, I contacted the Rambam library where he worked for so many years.They got back to me after a few days. They informed me that his grave is located in the Nachalat Yitzchak cemetery in Tel Aviv. Unfortunately, no area or plot number was provided. More perplexing to me, the email from the Rambam library stated, contrary tothe Hebrew Wikipedia entry for Rav Reuven, that his yahrzeit is on the 8
th
of Elul “wethink” and not the 7
th
. Since the language of the email expressed doubts about their information, I chose to stick with the 7
th
.On the evening of the 7
th
of Elul, preparing for the next morning’s trip, I searched theexcellent website of the chevra kadisha of Tel Aviv. The searchable database of all TelAviv cemeteries produced a precise plot number. To my dismay, the website listed hisyahrzeit as the 8
th
of Elul. Rav Herczeg and I had already planned the trip for the nextmorning complete with a car rented for the occasion. Though thoughts of changing our  plans crossed my mind, I decided to leave the things as they were.We were joined on the excursion by a student of ours, Gabe Faber. We arrived at thecemetery around noon. Nachalat Yitzchak, named for Rav Yitzchak Elchonon Spektor, ishome to many fascinating historical graves. Leaders of the Zionist movement from thefirst half of the 20
th
century, the fallen of the infamous attack on the Altalena, and manygreat Rabbis of the era are buried there.
 
After a few minutes we located Rav Reuven’s grave. We were pleased and relieved thatthe date of death on Rav Reuven’s tombstone indicated that we were there on the rightday. The 7
th
of Elul. We said the customary Tehilim and El Maleh Rachamim at thegraveside and took a few pictures. Rav Herczeg recounted a piece of Rav Reuven’s Torahthat he had read that morning. Our mission accomplished, we went on our way.A few rows away from Rav Reuven’s grave, we noticed the grave of an importanthistorical figure, Rav Binyamin Mintz, the minister of the postal service in the firstgovernment of the state of Israel. Rav Mintz was the leader of the Poalei Agudas Yisraelmovement and a pivotal figure in the founding of many settlements in Israel. As my brother, Zvi, is currently reading a biography of Rav Mintz, I decided to snap a picture of Rav Mintz’s tombstone to show him.A man walking nearby saw us standing near the grave of Rav Mintz and taking pictures.“Why are you interested in the grave of Rav Binyamin Mintz?” he asked us.“He was a great man.” I replied.“You know a book recently came out about him,” he said“I know. My brother’s reading it. That’s why we’re taking the picture.”“I knew him.”“Really?”“Yes. From the neighborhood.” He then pointed towards Rav Reuven’s grave. “Youknow there are many other important people buried here. You’ve heard of Rav ReuvenMargaliot?”“Yes! Of course! That’s why we’re here! Today’s his yahrzeit. We came to visit hiskever. We said Tehilim and a El maleh.”“You know his sefarim? Which ones do you have?” he asked.“I have a whole shelf,” I said. “Margaliot hayam, Yesod haMishna vaArichata, NitzotzeiOr, haMikra vehaMesorah…”“Shem Olam?”“Yes.”“Nefesh chayah?”“I wish I had it. It’s out of print.”“You’ll have it.” he said. “You have his Hagadah shel Pesach?”“No. It’s out of print.”“You’ll have that too. What’s your name and address?”I was surprised by this exchange and gave him my contact information. He took downRav Herczeg’s details as well.“And who do I have the honor to be speaking to?” I asked.“Chananya Weinberger. He was my uncle. I come every year by myself”“It’s true that they had no children, right?”“Yes.”“How well did you know him? You must have memories of him.”“He raised me. I came over from Europe as a child in 1947 and he adopted me. I livedwith him until I married in 1966.”

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