Living Legacy: Rav Moshe Aryeh Freund, zt”l
Wednesday, the 20th of Elul, marks the yohrtzeit of the Ga’avad Eidah Hacharedis of Yerushalayim, a tzaddik and an anav who endured the worst suffering under Hitler, ym”sh, Rav Moshe Aryeh Freund, Zecher tzaddik livracha.
He was born in the year 1904 in the Hungarian town of Honiad, near Beregsacz. His father was Rav Yisroel Freund, the rov of the town and the son of Rav Avrohom Yehoshua Freund of Nasoid. From a young age, his father brought him in to help lead the yeshiva in Honyad, and he would sit on dinei Torah by his grandfather in Nadoid as well.
Later he served as Rosh Yeshiva in Satmar under his beloved Rebbe, Rav Yoel of Satmar, zt”l.
In 1944, his entire family—his Rebbetzin and their eight children—were deported to Auschwitz. There, they all perished al kiddush Hashem. Throughout his time in the camp, Rav Moshe Aryeh was moser nefesh not to consume anything that was not 100% kosher and not to do any work on Shabbos. He spent his time learning by heart.
After the war, he returned to Satmar, where he helped rebuild the kehillah, and it became known throughout Romania as a beautiful kehillah.
In 1951, he moved to Yerushalayim where he would become known as a fighter for Torah and Yiddishkeit. When Rav Yoel of Satmar founded Yeshiva Yetev Lev in Yerushalayim, he appointed Rav Moshe Aryeh as Rosh Yeshiva.
After the passing of Rav Yitzchok Yaakov Weiss, he was appointed as the Rov of the Eidah Hacharedis of Yerushalayim. In this capacity, he was given a silver cane to walk with. But he never felt worthy of this position, despite his greatness in Torah and character. He once told his Rebbetzin, “why would they give this to a simple man like myself.”
Rav Moshe Aryeh served his Creator with great mesirush nefesh, and was a true ga’on in Torah whose Torah brilliance was only matched by his tzidkus and his humility. He was known to lower himself even to the simplest person, and he would always speak with incredible softness. People would come to visit him just to be in his presence.
His compassion for his fellow Yid was great. He would truly feel their pain and their joy. Once, a Yid came to Rav Moshe Aryeh for a brocho for his wife who was experiencing difficulty in labor. Rav Moshe Aryeh immediately began saying Tehillim. A short while later, a healthy baby was born to the couple, but the husband figured that it was already late, and he would inform the Rov in the morning. Not knowing the situation, Rav Moshe Aryeh sat and said Tehillim the entire night.
He made a number of trips to America, where he was greeted—especially by Satmar-affiliated kehillos—with great respect and admiration. Many children of that era still remember the crowds that came to see him during Shabbosim in Williamsburg and kiryas Yoel.
His leadership was marked by his learnedness and his piety until his petirah on 20 Elul of the year 1996. His resting place on Har Hazeisim continues to attract crowds who come to seek Yeshu’os.