BDE: Rav Chaim Zalmen Hakohen Matyas z”l
by BoroPark 24 Staff
We regret to inform the community of the petirah of Rav Chaim Zalmen Matyas z" l, a Holocaust survivor who originated from the town of Munkacz and lived in Boro Park for decades.
Rav Chaim Zalmen was niftar on Shabbos in Maimonides Medical Center at the age of 92. Originally from the town of Munkacz, in present-day Ukraine, he had a unique story of how he emerged from the Nazi inferno with his body and faith intact.
When Chaim Zalmen was a child, he had a habit of playing in the freezing puddles of rain on the street. This habit ended up saving his life.
Chaim Zalmen's father told the Nazi guards that his son was 18 because he was a tall, strapping bochur. This allowed him to be placed in the labor camp with adults and his father.
One day, the Nazi guards played a diabolical game with the Jewish inmates - spraying them with freezing water in the bitter cold. Watching his father undergo excruciating torture, Chaim Zalmen begged the Nazis to throw the freezing water at him instead.
Chaim Zalmen had already built up a tolerance for the freezing water, so he was able to withstand it, saving both himself and his father.
This was just one of the stories he would tell over.
After the war, Chaim Zalmen married his wife, and the two built a beautiful family for nearly 70 years. They had two sons.
As a kohen, Rav Chaim Zalmen was famous for his brachos. He would say that after the war, a huge line of people would wait for him to bentch them. The number of people got so large that it reached a time when he could no longer hold his hands up.
When the Covid pandemic began, he could no longer daven in his beloved Aleksander shul. Neighbors would see him standing at the window with his tallis and davening.
Rav Chaim Zalmen's smile and emunah endeared him to all. When asked how he had the strength to continue, he didn't even understand the question.
Rav Chaim Zalmen is survived by his wife, a woman known for her tzidkus and ehrlichkeit.
Yehi zichro baruch.