A Great Light is Dimmed: The Rachmastrivka Rebbe, zt”l
It is with a heavy heart and with great temerity that we report on the petirah of the Rachmastivka Rebbe, Zecher tzaddik livracha, a beacon of holiness and light that emanated from the Boro Park community and served a light and guide to thousands around the world.
The Rebbe had been unwell in the last year, and returned his holy neshomoh to its Maker on Wednesday early afternoon.
He was born in the Yerushalayim of old in the year 1931 to his father, Rebbe Yochanan of Rachmastrivka. When he was a young boy, he fell ill, and the doctors gave up on him. Upon the advice of his grandfather, the name Chai was added, and he famously carried this name Chai Yitzchok until his last days.
His youth would be spent among the great tzaddikim of the holy city, and he merited to be drawn close to them. He learned in Yeshiva Etz Chaim, under Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer, and he considered him his lifelong rebbi. Another great influence of his youth was the Stoliner Rebbe, Rebbe Yochanan, who had a special place in his heart for the youth of the generation, in whom he saw the future.
He was also close to Reb Shloim’ke Zviller, and to the Admorim of Gur, who drew him close. He was a friend of the future Admorim, the Pnei Menachem and the Lev Simcha of Gur.
In 1954, the Rebbe married Rebbetzin Miriam, the daughter of the previous Skverer Rebbe, Rav Yaakov Twersky, zt”l. The couple settled in Williamsburg, where the Skverer Rebbe was then living, and the two would learn together for hours every day.
When the Skverer Rebbe established the Skverer shtetl in Rockland County, his son-in-law moved along with him. Here, he was an illustrious presence, and the entire fledgling community of New Square looked with awe at the young tzaddik.
On 20 Kislev 1982, the Rebbe’s father, Rav Yochanan, the Rebbe assumed the mantle of leadership of the chassidus in America.
It began as a small outpost in Boro Park. Over forty years, it would become one of the largest Chassidic groups, numbering thousands of chassidim. The draw would be the Rebbe’s purity and holiness, his deep eidelkeit, and his ability to relate to a new generation even as he remained firmly rooted in the past.
The Rebbe had a ma’or panim, a light that emanated from him which was clear for all to see. A true kedushah and taharah, and deep humility. In his forty years of leadership, he never once waded into politics of any kind. His sole purpose was to disseminate Torah and chassidus for new generations based upon the tenets of old.
He would always speak about what an impression the simple Torah and tefillah of every Yid makes, and how precious it is—thus empowering every single one of his chassidim, and many others who listened to him, toward a life of elevation and holiness.
At the same time, the Rebbe never stopped giving over from the past. He was forever telling the stories and the traditions of the great Yidden that he knew, in an effort to inspire the chassidim.
“As far as we are from the previous generations, our generation is truly great in its own way,” the Rebbe would always say, “if only we do what we are called to do.”
With time, the chassidus grew into its new home, a massive beis medrash on 45th Street, which was built about 25 years ago. Today, this too has been outgrown, as the numbers of the chassidus skyrocketed. To cater to the demand, massive mosdos hachinuch for boys and girls were opened—all under the Rebbe’s careful guidance, and his insistence on purity in chinuch. These became model mosdos which continue to attract thousands of children even from outside the chassidus.
With the Rebbe’s passing, thousands of chassidim have lost their guiding light who led and nurtured them and uplifted them through the darkness of the galus, and the world has lost a true beacon of holiness who espoused Torah and Yiddishkeit in its truest form, all with deep humility and great holiness.