Living Legacy: Rav Yeruchom Levovitz, zt”l, Mashgiach of the Mir
By: Yehuda Alter
Friday, 18 Sivan marks the yohrtzeit of Rav Yeruchom Levovitz, zt”l, the legendary mashgiach of the Mirer yeshiva in Poland, who transmitted the ways of mussar of his illustrious rebbeim, thereby shaping generations of talmidim who would go on to rebuild the shattered world upon those foundations.
Rav Yeruchom was born to his father, Reb Avrohom in the town of Lyuban, Russia, in 1873.
In his youth he learned in small towns near Pohost and Halusk, and in the Bobruisk yeshiva. Later, he learned in the great yeshivah of Slabodka, where he learned under Rav Nosson Tzvi FInkel, the Alter of Slabodka. Later he went to the great mussar center of Kelm, learning under Rav Simcha Zissel Ziv, the Alter of Kelm. It was here that imbibed the ways of mussar for which he would be known for the rest of his life.
Sadly, Rav Simcha Zissel was niftar a short time after he arrived there, and Rav Yeruchom followed his son, Rav Nachum Zev.
In 1907, he came to Radin, where the Chofetz Chaim invited him to serve as mashgacich, Two years later he accepted the position as mashgiach of the Mir. Thus began a glorious chapter of three decades of indelibly shaping his talmidim with love, sensitivity, and relentless pursuit of truth.
The reverence and the love that his talmidim had toward him is difficult to fathom—and this was mostly rooted in his personal embodiment of the mussardige ways that he espoused. He demanded of himself far more than he demanded of others. His Rebbetzin told her children: “Know that your father was a Malach Elokim.”
The American bachurim who came to the Mir merited a special connection to the mashgiach, and he transformed these boys, who knew of baseball and hotdogs, into G-d-fearing bnei Torah.
The aura around his shmuessen was otherworldly. The talmidim would sit around him, and a pin drop could be heard as they drank in every word with great thirst. His every word with filled with depth, insight, and brilliance, and he knew the right path to every talmid’s heart.
Rav Yeruchom was niftar in 1936, following and illness, though many of his family members, including his rebbetzin made it to America.
Among his great talmidim were his son Rav Simcha Zissel Halevi Levovitz, Rav Shlomo Wolbe, Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz, Rav Leib Malin, Rav Dovid Povarsky, Rav Abba Berman, Rav Zelik Epstein, Rav Shimon Schwab, Rav Aaron Yeshaya Shapiro who was a Rosh Yeshiva in Torah Vodaath for forty years, and many others.
Through them—many of whom escaped through Shanghai, and others who were saved through other routed and means—the legacy of Rav Yeruchom continues to thrive to this day.