Memory Lane: Rav Nissan Waxman, zt”l
During the 1950’s—most likely having succeeded Rav Mordechai Aaron Kaplan as the rov of Bnei Yehuda, the latter having been niftar prematurely in the year 1951—Rav Nissan Waxman was a distinguished Boro Park rov.
He was a talmid of the foremost yeshivos in Poland and Lita, having been born in 1904 in the town of Storobin, near Slabodka, and learned in the yeshivos of Slutzk where he was a ben bayis by Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer (and became acquainted with his son in law, Rav Aharon Kotler), by Rav Elchonon Wasserman in Smilovitz (in 1939 he pleaded with his rebbi not to return home, to no avail), and in Slabodka, Mir, Grodno, and in America, at Rabbeinu Yitzchok Elchanan.
He married the daughter of a great pioneer in the American Torah landscape, Rav Avraham Nachman Schwartz, zt”l, (hence the significance of the name of his aforementioned son). In 1943, there were no yeshivos in Lakewood for his young children, he relocated to Baltimore, and taught Torah in Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim of Baltimore, which was founded by his father in law.
In 1948, he settled in Boro Park. Although he had no official Rabbinic position here, he nevertheless wrote and published many ma’amarim in Torah.
A passionate activist, Rav Nissan was known as a great ba’al middos; his entire essence was chessed and ahavas Yisroel. He was close to many of the Gedolei Hador and with bnei Torah in many American yeshivos. His many talks always surrounded these themes of chessed, and insights into the words of Gedolim of yore.
It would later be written about him: “What animated Rav Nissan Waxman? All of his life, he grew up amongst the Chachomim; the great Torah luminaries of his generation—and he soaked up their ideas and chiddushim. He arrived in America with a treasure of spiritual cargo from Lita, and he guarded that legacy jealously, sharing it with those around him.”
In later years, he headed the federations of tzeddakah organizations in Eretz Yisroel—a position in which he was able to further broaden his chessed activities.
Following an impressive career as a rov in the resort town of Lakewood, in which he also helped the Lakewood yeshiva establish itself (possibly serving a defining role in bringing the yeshiva of Rav Aharon Kotler there, Rav Waxman’s last years were lived in Petach Tikvah—and in Eretz Yisroel he found a new career; as the head of the Rabbanut in Tel Aviv. Upon the occasion of this appointment, a dinner was hosted in his honor by Agudas Harabanim of America and the Slabodka alumni organization—both of which he was a vital pillar for decades.
Rav Waxman was niftar in 1982 in Eretz Yisroel. His children published a number of volumes of his writings on Torah and halachah, perpetuating the legacy of a great man who once resided in Boro Park of yesteryear.