Living Legacy: The Avnei Neizer, zt”l
Shabbos, 11 Adar Alef, marks the 112th yohrtzeit of the Avenei Nezer, Rebbe Avrohom (Burnstein) of Sochazow, one of Poland’s greatest ge’onim of all time, and the patriarch of the Sochaczower dynasty.
He was born to his father, Rav Ze’ev Nachum, in Bendin, Poland, in the year 1839–a ga’on in his own right, who was descended from the Remah and the Shach.
In the introduction to his Sefer, he would write: “I learned Torah under the tutelage of my holy father who taught me the ways of Pilpul. When I was ten years old, I was mechadesh chidushim, innovating in Torah.” Indeed, his brilliance was unparalleled. It is said that he finished the entire Shas at the age of ten!
While he was suggested as a shidduch for the daughter of the Divrei Chaim, he ultimately married Tzina, the daughter of Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Kotzk. Although this was already during the years of seclusion, when the Kotzker locked himself away from any public appearance, his illustrious son-in-law had unhinbited entry to the sanctum of his holy shver.
Following the passing of his father in law, he would follow the Chidushei Harim of Ger, and later Rebbe Chanoch Henich of Alessander.
His first Rabbinic position was in the city of Parcew, in the year 1867. He would establish a yeshiva, where some of Polands greatest minds learned under him. He dedicated himself completely to his talmidim… leaving the publication of his chidushim and teshuvos for his later years.
His talmidim witnessed his tremendous greatness, with many episodes of clear ruach hakodesh.
The Avenei Nezer was weak for all of his life,suffering lung and other ailments. Once, he traveled to a locale with high altitudes, which would be better for his lungs. One afternoon, he took off running, with all of his strength, to the bottom of the mountain. When he was pursued by his attendant, who asked him where he was running, he exclaimed; “Don’t you hear?! A woman is singing there!”
When his rebbe, Rav Chanoch Henich of Aleksander, was niftar, he agreed to serve as a rebbe—provided that his learning schedule not be interrupted. He would have loved nothing more than to sit and learn undisturbed. But his fame spread… and he people sent him an unending stream of she’eilos in Halacha. These would become the seven-volume Avnei Nezer, which was published by his illustrious son, the Shem MiShmuel, after his passing.
On 11 Adar I of the year 1900, the Avnei Nezer returned his soul to its maker and he is interred in Sochazow, in an ohel, where he was later joined by his son and successor—concluding a lifetime of Torah and kedushah.