Memory Lane: Rav Moshe Liphshitz
Reb Moshe Liphshitz, a native of Lodz, was the longtime proprietor of Cutlers Cottages in Fallsburg. For fifty years, Reb Moshe infused his neighbors and chaverim in Boro Park—whether in Novaradok, Ger, or in Agudas Yisroel—spreading his wisdom, and the brilliant glow of his middos to so many who came in contact with him.
He was born in Lodz in the winter of 1921 to his father Reb Leibel who hailed from a long line of Gerer chassidim. The family emigrated to Eretz Yisroel in 1935, but as Hashgacha would have it, they returned to Poland in 1939, and it was only with great chasdei Shamayim that they made it out in 1940, enduring a year of the Nazi gehinom.
As a bachur, his brilliance and his diligence stood out. He learned in the Gerer Yeshiva Sfas Emes, where he was molded by Reb Zelig Shtitzberg, a legendary Rosh Yeshiva in the yeshiva. It is said that he was tested on the entire Nedarim with Ran at the age of ten (!).
Around 1946, he married the daughter of Reb Aaron Shlomo Cynamon. His wife’s sister was married to Rav Kehos Borack, who was already living in Boro Park, so they joined the Borack’s in America.
In Boro Park, Rav Moshe was drawn by his brother-in-law Rav Kehos to the chaburah of Novaradoker’s at Beis Yosef on 49th Street. Gerer shtiebel on 49th Street, and was initially drawn to Agudah of 14th Avenue through his cousin Rav Simcha Elberg (a wondrous personality, a poilishe ga’on, longtime Daf Yomi maggid shiur in the Agudah, and editor of Hapardes). Due to this connection, he chose this as the home for a library.
Reb Shmerel Zitronenbaum is one of the foremost seforim experts of our generation, and he recalls those day when he could spend hours upon hours surrounded by the rare seforim. “This was before the days of Otsar HaChochma, and all the online seforim available to us today. This was a tremendous resource made available due to the diligence and the dedication of Reb Moshe Liphshitz.
This is what he is remembered for, in addition to his other qualities; as a tremendous bibliophile—with a love for seforim, their authors, and everything about them. Rav Shafran related: “It is impossible to describe his great breadth in seforim; he knew how to appraise each sefer and its proper place…at the same time he showed tolerance and respect, even for those with whom he disagreed philosophically.”
Rav Moshe acquired Cutlers on, on La Vista Drive in Fallsburg, and ran the colony with great dedication to the residents. This is where Rav Moshe hosted the Rebbe Pinchas Menachem Alter of Gur, known as the Pnei Menachem, for a six weeks during the summer of 1990 (this was still during his tenure as Rosh Yeshiva of Sfas Emes, when his brother the Lev Simcha still served as Gerer Rebbe). The kesher between the two was spawned years earlier when they were chaverim at Sfas Emes—and grew deeper with the years, until both of their passing six months apart, in 1996.
The Rebbe would remark to Reb Moshe’s wife, following his passing, “I don’t have anymore like him.” During those weeks, he would spent hours immersed in Torah discussion with Reb Moshe, and his brother in law Rav Kehos Borack—and anyone who was in Cutlers during that era will never forget those moments.
His nephew, Rav Yehoshua Borack, z”l, related that his hasmadah was unfathomable. “He would learn with tremendous yegi’ah and depth, for 8-9 hours at a time. He as always immersed in a sugya. From Elul and on it was the lomdishe sugyos of Rosh Hashanah, and so on, through the Yamim Tovim…His brow was furrowed from deep concentration, and anyone observing him knew that he was immersed entirely.”
And then there was his sterling discipline and middos that was noticed by all those who came in contact with him. His shemiras hadibur, his care for every person’s feelings—going to extremes in doing so, always with cleverness and wit—was his defining characteristic until his very last days, even as he was wracked by illness, until his passing which left a terrible void in Boro Park of yesteryear.