Memory Lane: Rabbi Chaim Meir Braun, zt”l
A Hungarian Rav of the old school, he served as a Rav in Boro Park, and always gave of himself to others. He was one of the leaders of the Hungarian Jewish committees to help their suffering brethren back home.
Rav Chaim Meir was born in Grosswardein to his father Rav Yisroel Baruch Braun—author of Even Yisroel and Knesses Yisroel. They were descended from the Ketzos Hachoshen, the Tosafos Yom Tov, and the Nodah b’Yehuda.
In the sefer that he would later write, he says of his father…and even as I grew older he did not withhold from me wisdom and mussar, writing to me in a letter—even after I left for America, which he understandably did not approve of, and my own intention was to return to this place of Torah and yira.
His sefer Toldos Chaim—filled with sweet and deep insights on Torah and Mo’adim— was published in the year 1963. He explains the title this way: “Since I have not been blessed with progeny, and we know from the seforim that the mitzvah of writing a sefer Torah is a fulfillment of the mitzvah of peru urevu, it is my hope that the new insights in Torah that I have ‘given birth to will be seen as my tolados, ‘my children.’” In it he received glowing haskamos from his fellow Hungarian Rabbanim—Rav Yonasan Shteif and Rav Akiva Sofer. Rav Moshe Feinstein wrote: “I have seen that these are words of truth—with a deep understanding of the words of the Rishonim and poskim, and arouse yiras Hashem in those who read them.”
In Boro Park, his beis medrash Eitz Chaim was located at 5502 11th Avenue.
The matriarch of one of the branches of the Reinhold family of Boro Park was a distant cousin of Rebbetzin Braun. She survived the war alone. Left with no family, she was taken in by the Brauns who married her off, and likewise kept close, and cared for the couple as they grew older.
In the aftermath of the war, Rav Braun headed the Committee for the Rescue of Hungarian Jews, and was also active across many other areas of Jewish life in America and abroad.
At some point, the Brauns made Aliyah to Eretz Yisroel. But after a few years they returned to America. In his later years he was retired to the Aishel Avraham, and people would stream to this elderly sage to drink from his wisdom.
Rav Braun was niftar on 19 Iyar, 1985, and is interred on Har Mamenuchos. He is remembered by numerous families for his Torah brilliance that was matched by his kindness.