Living Legacy: Rav Meshulam Dovid Soloveitchik, zt”l
By: Yehuda Alter
Thursday marks two years since the petirah of Rav Dovid Soloveitchik, a scion of the Brisker dynasty, and a ga’on and Rosh Yeshiva who illuminated the world with his Torah as he shaped countless talmidim.
Rav Dovid was born in the town of Brisk to his father, Rav Yitzchok Zeev Halevi Soloveitchik, known as the Brisker Rov, on 19 Tishrei of the year 1921. For his entire life he would be a fierce guardian of the traditions and the ways of the house of Brisk.
His brilliance stood out from a young age (he remembered the most minute details that occurred half a century earlier as though they took place the day before). As a young boy, he was sent to learn in a yeshiva k’tana for bachurim. Soon, he was accepted into the elite yeshiva of Kamenitz, under the Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Baruch Leibowitz.
In 1940, as war was descending on the European continent, he made his way to Vilna, along with his father and siblings. In 1941, they were successful in coming to Eretz Yisroel, where the Brisker Rov reestablished the yeshiva. Rav Dovid became a maggid shiur in the yeshiva, and thus began an eighty-year tenure of harbotzas Torah that would make the Brisker yeshiva a household name in the Torah world.
His Rebbetzin was the daughter of Rav Osher Sternbuch of London, and the sister of, ybl”ch, Rav Moshe Sternbuch of the Eidah Hacharedis. She stood by his side in all of his avodas hakodesh.
Rav Dovid became known to his talmidim, as well as to the wider Torah world, for his koch and bren in Torah and yiras Shomayim. His home was extremely sparse. The same furniture that occupied the tiny dirah on Rechov Amos stood witness for decades to the supreme dedication to Torah, and only Torah. All that he desired in life was Torah and to understand Torah.
In the 1970’s, the Rosh Yeshiva opened the yeshiva in the Gush Shmonim neighborhood of Yerushalayim. There, it has continued to be destination for countless bachurim from all corners of the earth who come to absorb the pursuit of truth that was so cherished in Brisk, and which Rav Dovid so valiantly upheld.
Rav Dovid persisted in his life’s quest until his last hours, despite being greatly weakened. He would deliver shiurim with mesirus nefesh. He would completely deplete his strength in giving his shiurim when he was in late nineties. He himself would say that he doesn’t understand how he has the strength to deliver his shiurim.
Rav Dovid was niftar on 18 Shvat of 2021 having lived a century on this earth completely dedicated to Torah. His Levaya drew tens of thousands, and he was mourned by the Torah community around the world.