The world of Yiddishkeit has been plunged into mourning with the petirah of the Rachmistrivka Rebbe, Harav Chai Yitzchok Twerski zt”l. The rebbe, revered by legions of chasidim, followers and admirers across the world, was 92 years old.
The Levaya will be held at the Rachmastrivka Bais Medrash in Boro Park at 3:30PM / 4:00PM. (45th Street bwteeen 12th Avenue and New Utrecht Avenue). The Levaya in Monsey will be held at South Monsey Road and Saddle River Road at 7:00PM, where it will then proceed to the Kevura at the Har Sholom Bais Hakvaros at 7:00PM (44 Hillside Ave, Airmont, NY 10952).
Born in Yerushalayim in 1931, the future Rebbe was named Yitzchak, after his zeide, Rav Itzik’l of Skver. His grandfather, Rav Nochum’ke, served as the sandak.
Shortly before his bar mitzvah, he was stricken with a terrible illness and was near death; his parents added the name Chaim. Later, his mother realized that his younger brother, who went by the name Moshe, was actually Moshe Chaim, resulting in the brother’s sharing a name. Upon the guidance of his zeide, his name was edited to Chai Yitzchak.
Chai Yitzchak’s bar mitzvah was held in the hallowed confines of Yerushalayim’s Geula neighborhood, with the seuda serving as both a celebration of his bar mitzvah and a seudas hodaah for his miraculous recovery. The event was attended by many gedolim, including Reb Ahre’le of Belz, who postponed his scheduled departure from Yerushalayim to attend the bar mitzvah.
Chai Yitzchak went on to learn at Yeshiva Eitz Chaim, where he forged a deep connection with Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer zt”l, who he considered his lifelong rebbi. Throughout his life, the Rebbe asserted that his Derech Halimud and his Divrei Torah were inspired by Rav Isser Zalman.
The future Rebbe’s own Rebbe, Rav Ahre’le of Belz, would famously only shake hands with people through a towel, but he would make an exception for Chai Yitzchok, to whom he was related. As Chai Yitzchok reached marriage age, the Rebbe supported a proposed shidduch to the daughter of the Skverer Rebbe, Rav Yaakov Yosef Twersky zt”l, who lived in America.
Not long after his marriage, R’ Chai Yitzchak moved with his father-in-law to the fledgling New Square, immersing himself in the herculean tasks of building a kehilla, including being involved in creating a chinuch system, working with yungerleit, and saying shiurim. He also was the baal tefillah on the Yamim Noraim.
When his father-in-law was niftar in 1968, R’ Chai Yitzchak had no qualms with his brother-in-law, the current Skverer Rebbe, taking the reigns.
In 1982, following the passing of his father, the Machnovka Rebbe of Bnei Brak appointed Rav Itzik’l as the Rachmistrivka Rebbe in America. The newly crowned rebbe protested, but to no avail. He was Rebbe, whether he liked it or not.
Rav Itzik’l chose Boro Park as the home for his chasidus, where he felt he could lead a kehilla but still remain an unknown. Boro Park was large – who would even know who he is? The bais medrash was established at 45th Street between 12th and 13th Avenues. Eventually, the chasidus expanded so greatly that a new Bais Medrash was necessary, and one was established a block away from the Rebbe’s home.
What began as an exceedingly small group of chasidim of Rav Itzik’l grew to multitudes, with his incredible ability to touch another Yid’s Neshama attracting followers by the thousands.
For decades, the Rebbe served as a true Eved Hashem and an unwavering leader to the throngs who relied on him for advice, comfort, and guidance.