Section: Stories Category: Gedolim Biographies
|Rav Yechiel Michel Feinstein - Rav Moshe Feinstein's Brisker Nephew|
|When he came to Eretz Yisroel the Brisker Rov said, "It is good you came. Now I have someone to talk to in learning." When Rav Moshe Feinstein came to Eretz Yisroel he said, "Eretz Yisroel has no idea who is living here." Rav Yechiel Michel Feinstein scaled the heights of the Mir, Grodno, Slutzk, and Kletzk. He was a Gadol in America and Eretz Yisroel, but at the end of the day he was firmly planted in Brisk.|
Born into the illustrious Feinstein family in 5667/1907, Rav Yechiel Michel was the son of Rav Moshe Feinstein's brother. Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinsky once said about Rav Moshe and his brother Rav Mordechai that among us in Russia there are two brothers who are fluent in torah like the geonim of earlier generations. Rav Michel was orphaned at the age of seven and was sent to learn with his grandfather, Rav Dovid. At age 14 he was sent to Slutzk to learn under Rav Issur Zalman Meltzer, who quickly took a great like to the young genius. Rav Michel attended shiurim by Rav Issur Zalman's son-in-law Rav Aharon Kotler.
At age 17, Rav Michel moved to the Mir Yeshiva where he gained acclaim as one of the young lions, among which included his roommate Rav Dovid Povarsky the future Rosh Yeshiva of Ponevezh, his chavrusa Rav Yonah Minsker, as well as Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz and Rav Leib Ma'alin. He also formed a close bond with the Mashgiach Rav Yeruchom Levovitz. Despite the heady company Rav Michel was considered from the finest minds in the Yeshiva to go along with his incredible hasmada. It is said that Rav Michel and Rav Dovid Povarsky never met in their room. By the time Rav Michel went to lay down, Rav Dovid was already up learning in the Bais Medrash. Rav Michel was from the greatest attractions in the Mir, as other talmidim waited on line to speak to him in learning, including Rav Moshe Shmuel Shapira and ybcl"c Rav Chaim Pinchos Sheinberg.
Upon meeting up with his former mentor Rav Issur Zalman who had returned to Europe for a visit from Eretz Yisroel, Rav Issur Zalman recommended that he go to Brisk to learn by the Brisker Rov, Rav Yitzchok Zev Soloveitchik. Again here, he greatly impressed his new Rebbi. Trying to avoid being drafted in the army, Rav Michel had to take flight, this time going to Grodno where he learned by Rav Shimon Shkop for half a year.
The outbreak of World War II brought him to Vilna where he once again met up with the Brisker Rov. He ended up fleeing Europe to Japan with the Mir Yeshiva. In 1941 he received a visa to the United States together with Rav Aharon Kotler, and he started a Yeshiva for Mirrer Talmidim in Boston. That was short lived as his uncle Rav Moshe, having him close at hand, called him to New York to serve together with him in Yeshivas Tiferes Yerushalayim. He served in that post for ten years although in the interim he traveled to Eretz Yisroel and married Lifsha Soloveitchik the daughter of his Rebbi the Brisker Rov.
In 1952 he returned to Eretz Yisroel permanently and opened up his Yeshiva Bais Yehuda in Tel Aviv. He would say 17 shiurim a week and various masechtos in Shas as well as other limudim. the Yeshiva eventually moved to Bnei Brak and it served as place where he was Marbitz Torah at a remarkable pace for the next 50 years. He was Niftar on 16 Iyar 5703/2003 at the age of 97. He left behind son's Rav Chaim and Rav Dovid who are Roshei Yeshiva in Bais Yehuda and Rav Avrohom, as well as his son-in-law Rav Tzvi Kaplan who is a Rosh Yeshiva in Yerushalayim. Yehi Zichro Boruch!