Sunday, April 15, 2012

Professor Abraham Goldberg ז"ל

It was with great sadness that I heard today of the passing of a dear friend and wonderful human being, Prof. Avraham Goldberg ז"ל. You can read about his academic achievements here, here and here, for it is not of them that I wish to write.

I had the privilege of getting to know Professor Goldberg and his indefatigable and indescribably vivacious wife, Rivka (תיבדל לחיים טובים וארוכים) when we were their upstairs neighbors during the academic year 1983-1984 (while I was a Lady Davis Fellow at Hebrew University).

The Goldbergs quickly made us part of their extended family, helped us to learn the ropes in a crazy economy (that was the year the banks failed), shared their knowledge and stories of Yerushalayim של פעם, and generally were our surrogate grand parents.

Avraham Goldberg was a man who had his priorities straight. First, he was a real ירא שמים. He never missed minyan, and was always there early to be able to learn before davening. He and Rivka lived simply, in order to raise their four daughters. (Rivka used to say that she raised four chidren instead of one car.)

Professor Goldberg, as I said, was a real mensch. I never heard him say a bad word about anyone. He abhorred academic gossip, and preferred speaking Torah. He had a love affair with the Torah World, and spent the High Holy Days in Yeshivat Hevron (which was no small feat as he got older).
Yet even in his frummkeit, he was extremely modest. Legend has it that his father-in-law, Rev. Abramowitz was the only שוחט he trusted. When he passed away, he stopped eating meat. He never made a point of why. He just felt that was how he wanted honor his wife's father's memory. [Legends aside, the family reports that Prof. Goldberg stopped eating meat when he served as a chaplain in the United States Army during World War II.]
In general, he was extremely punctilious in מצוות בין אדם למקום and מצוות בין אדם לחברו, but never never never pushed his own stringencies on anyone else (much less try to impress with them).

He was a very caring individual, who worked hard to help students find their way in Eretz Yisrael (including finding jobs,,,,no small feat). The veritable tribe of devoted, Israeli, God- fearing descendants that he and Rivka raised (and they literally raised a lot of their grandchildren) is a testimony to their devotion to their family. As I said, his priorities were all in the right place. [He was, you might say, the polar opposite of anyone or anything in the film הערת שוליים]

Professor Goldberg was one of those special, extraordinary personalities with which the Holy City is blessed. I thank God for having had the זכות to have known him.

חבל על דאבדין ולא משתכחין. תהי נפשו צרורה בצרור החיים ותהי מנוחתו כבוד

1 comment:

Yossi Slotnik said...

As one who is very interested in Talmudic scholarship I am familiar with Professor Goldberg’s זצ"ל works. Only once I saw the picture you posted did I realize that I know him from a different context. Since my childhood I have often frequented Ohel Rivka shul in Kiriyat Shemuel. It was not my local shul (being 15 minute walk from my parents Jerusalem home ) but I always felt welcome there. The main source of warmth was generated by a gentlemen who sat by the Bimah and always leined. I never knew his name but he always greeted me, even as a young child, with great respect. Whenever he saw me he asked what I am learning, where I live how many children – the short of it gave me the feeling he cared. As I grew up his questions changed, but he remembered the details of my life for eg. that I was on Shelichut in South Africa, That I know live in Maale Gilboa. Sometimes we did not even speak but a short nod indicated that he saw me, remembers me and that he cares. Over the years I saw how he grew older but his warmth and aura stayed the same. Although I never heard him give a shiur he taught me much about being a mensch.

Now that you posted the picture I also know his name – Rabbi Proffesor Avraham Goldberg – יהי זכרו ברוך
Yossi Slotnik
Maale Gilboa