Rav Moshe Feinstein
In the towering apartment complexes on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the second half of the twentieth century, lived hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Jews. Among them was a distinguished and elderly gentleman, diminutive in physical stature, but a giant in intellect. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein z’’l became the leading halachic authority of his generation, and his psakim (halachic rulings) were accepted worldwide.
Rav Moshe was born in Uzdan, near Minsk, Belorussia, where his father was a rabbi. He became Rabbi of Luban, also near Minsk, as a single bochur. Later he married ShimaKustanovich in 1920, and he entrusted all material decisions to his lifelong partner. They had three children in Russia.
Rav Moshe remained in Luban until 1937, by which time the exit gates from Russia were locked shut. By a combination of hard work by the rav for several earlier years to obtain papers, plus some American political influence instigated by family already in this country, papers finally arrived, and he immigrated with his family to the United States.
He became Rosh HaYeshivah of Mesivta Tiferes Yerushalayim that became world-famous because of his presence. Rav Moshe’s halachic decisions have been published in a collection called Igros Moshe (The Letters of Moshe).
Rav Moshe says that he is only providing his opinion with respect to the halachic questions raised, that he indicates all his sources, and that he welcomes and encourages all readers to check his sources and question his conclusions.
The selflessness and modesty of this Torah scholar only magnify his greatness. And the fear of Heaven that underlay all his thoughts shows how great a Gadol,a Torah giant, he was. Rav Moshe Feinstein passed away in 1986.