Memory Lane: Rav Moshe Yosef Rubin - the Kimplunger Rov
This week saw the petirah of Reb Yankel Rubin, the son of Rav Moshe Yosef Rubin, of one of Boro Park’s most prominent rabbonim, known as the Kimplunger Rov. As such, we bring you the story of the Kimplunger Rov, who employed his sterling leadership and rabbinic qualities to guide his People in his native Romania/Bukovina through good times and bad—serving as the Chairman of Agudas Yisroel, and of Agudas Harabanim, in Romania—and upon arrival in Boro Park established a whole new tenure for more than three decades in which he stood at helm of a beis din, and the Vaad Harabonim of Boro Park.
‘The Sereter Iluy’
Rav Moshe Yosef hailed from some of the most distinguished Chassidic and Rabbinic dynasties—including Koretz, Ropshitz, Belz, and others, and he followed his forefathers who foremed a long line of rabbonim and leaders in Bucharest. He was born in 1895 in the Polish town of Volya, located on the border with Slovakia. His father was Rav Pinchas Menachem Rubin, the son of Rav Shmelka Rubin of Seret.
As a young bachur he entered the yeshiva in Seret which was founded by Rav Akiva Sofer, known as the Da’as Sofer, and headed by the Ga’on Rav Alter Shaul Pfeffer (later of New York). He soon became known as ‘Iluy of Seret.”
At the age of seventeen, he had authored a Romanian translation of the sefer Malbim al Hatorah, and over the following years wrote Yad Yosef on Gemara, and Darash Moshe on halachah. At the age of nineteen, he amassed glowing semichos from the greatest Rabbbonim of this region of Romania/Bucharest.
Soon after his wedding, at the young age of 29, Rav Moshe Yosef was elected the rov of Kimplung, Bukovina. With this he acquired the title that he would bear the rest of his life—and the rov and rebbetzin set about working for their community; he through guiding and teaching, and she through a myriad of tzeddaka and chessed endeavors.
This community, however, presented its own challenges; being affected by the winds of haskalah, it took the skill and the wisdom and the diplomacy that only Rav Moshe Yosef could muster to gain the respect of the townspeople.
This relative bliss lasted about 15 years, until the onset of WWII when the family was forced to flee to Bucharest. Thus began a whole new chapter of heroic rescue work that can fill volumes. He founded a vaad hatzalah, a rescue organization to save as many Jews as possible, and to feed the beleaguered Yidden from throughout the region.
Together with Nathan Clipper, he utilized high reaching contacts in the government succeeding in saving thousands of Jews.
One of the numerous prominent beneficiaries of the Kimplunger Rov’s rescue and relief efforts was his future Boro Park landsman, the Bobover Rov, Rav Shlomo Halberstam, who lived with the Rubins at the end of the war. In the fall of 1945, a banquet was held marking 25 years of the Kimplunger Rov’s rabbonus. It was attended by the Imrei Chaim of Viznitz, other Gedolim, and the Bobover rov who spoke about the proverbial “four crowns” enumerated in the Mishna in Avos—all of which were earned by Rav Moshe Yosef through pure mesirus nefesh for the spiritual and material safety of his brethren.
After about a decade in Long Beach, the Rubin’s moved to Boro Park, where Rav Rubin served as a busy av beis din, and head of the Vaad Harabonim, speaking and interacting everywhere… but his makom tefillah was in a place of prominence in the Kapishnitzer Rebbe’s shul on 55th Street, where he was seen as the unofficial rov.
By the time of his passing, 5 Adar 1980, he left behind generations of descendants, who go by the light of his legacy, which entails glorious years of leadership in Boro Park of yesteryear.