Memory Lane: Rav Menachem Mendel Kasher, zt”l

Memory Lane: Rav Menachem Mendel Kasher, zt”l

Rav Mendel was the son of Rav Yitzchok Peretz Kasher of Warsaw—who descended from generations upon generations of Rabbanim in Poland, all the way to the Remah, and further along to Rashi and Dovid Hamelech alav hashalaom. His light shone early… The genius that he would later become showed itself at an early age.

His editorship of Degel HaTorah—the official communication vehicle of Agudas Yisroel—at the tender age of 19 was the start of a brilliant literary tenure which would span the next 70 years of his life. In this arena he interacted with, and was beloved by, the greatest Geonim of Poland, including the Rogachover Gaon, the Ohr Samei’ach, and others.

He also established a Mesivta in Warsaw. He was exceptionally close to the Gerer Rebbe and his family, and would later stand at the helm of the committee to rescue them from the jaws of the Nazis, ym”sh and reestablishing themselves in Eretz Yisroel.

Given the caliber and the brilliance of the young scholar, it comes as no surprise that the Imrei Emes, Rav Avraham Mordechai Alter of Gur, asked him to travel to Eretz Yisroel and found the first Gerer Yeshiva in Yerushalayim. In 1924, at the age of 29, he ascended to the Holy Land and establish the yeshiva.

While Rav Kasher formally immigrated to America in 1929, in 1927, the Detroit Jewish Chronicle writes “Eminent Jewish Scholar is Detroit Guest. Rabbi M. M. Kasher of Jerusalem here on behalf of his Torah Sheleimah. The renowned Hebrew scholar, dean of the Yeshiva Safath Emeth of Jeruslame, Palestime, is a visitor to the city of Detroit, and a guest of the local Rabbis.”

“Rabbi Kasher plans to remain in the city until after the Passover holidays and during his sojourn here arrangements have been made for him to address the leading synagogues of the city. The particular reason for the present visit of Rabbi Kasher is to enlist the support of the local community in the monumental work which he has written, known as Torah Shlemah. This work is a Talmudical Encyclopedia, as well as complete scriptures of the Oral Law.

“In speaking of the scholarship and erudition of Rabbi Kasher, Rabbi Leo Jung said: Rabbi Kasher, in spite of his youth a scholar enjoying a deservedly wide and honorable reputation, is another instance of the great intellectual force which the yeshiva has generated and kept refining for many years.

“Rabbi Kasher’s has for more than 20 years literally dedicated his days and nights to this work. It is, as its author, a living instance of

An astounding 38 volumes of Torah Sheleimah were published in his lifetime, between the years of 1927 and 1983, the year of his passing. The 39th volume was edited and published by his son in law, Rabbi Dr. Aaron Greenbaum. To date 40 volumes have been published. Gemara Shleima was another one of his works, which followed the same encyclopedic approach as the Torah Sheleimah, but to Gemara.

While all of this was happening, he did not cease for a moment his tendencies to help the Klal. He established Shema Yisroel, to care for the youth of Eretz Yisroel who were falling away. His associates who worked alongside him expressed disbelief at his energy… and how he would be willing to put important deadlines on hold for the sake of doing more to save neshamos.

The publication of his seforim has continued after his passing, and thus, the legacy of Torah brilliance and publication—begun in Warsaw and flourished in Yerushalayim—continues to this day, having for years graced the community of Boro Park of Yesteryear.

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