“I Am Entirely Rabbi Kook”: Rabbi Dov Yaffe ztz”l

In memory of Rabbi Dov Yaffe, the senior ‘mashgiach’, who passed away last week * His joy over every new book by Rabbi Kook, and his shock at those who humiliated him * Tearing his garment when Rabbi Charlap died * His undertaking for a student who was forced to leave the yeshiva * The spreading of Torah and Mussar in yeshivas throughout the entire country * How yeshiva students can participate in a faraway wedding – without leaving the Beit Midrash * One of the tenets of his teachings: be true, and beware of imitations and fakes * How to calculate the amount of flour required to take ‘challah’

Rabbi Yitzhak Dadon shlita, who has written more than ten books (including ‘Atchalta He‘) about the supportive attitude of the ‘Gedolei Ha’Rabbanim’ (eminent rabbis) of all ethnic denominations towards Zionism, and other topics in halakha and aggadah from the teachings of Rabbi Kook and his students, sent me articles he had written about the “zaken ha’mashgichim” (the senior of the spiritual yeshiva supervisors) Rabbi Dov Yaffe ztz”l, who died a week ago on the 19th of Marcheshvan. Rabbi Yaffe served as the ‘mashgiach‘ at Yeshiva ‘Knesset Yehezkel’ in Kfar Chassidim and at the ‘Kol Ya’akov’ Yeshiva, and spread his patronage over other yeshivas. In order for us to be privileged to participate in eulogizing this ‘tzaddik’ (righteous man), I will quote mention what Rabbi Dadon wrote me.

“It came to my attention that the eminent rabbi, Rabbi Dov Yaffe, had probed the writings of Maran Harav Kook ztz”l, and I paid a visit to his tiny room in the ‘Kol Ya’akov’ yeshiva to see if it indeed was true, and if so, to ask for his help in opposing an evil man, Avraham Hazan, may the name of the wicked rot, who published a book ‘Da’at HaTzionut’ (‘The Religion of Zionism’) full of abuse and blasphemy against Rabbi Kook ztz”l. With his typical patience, Rabbi Dov listened to me till the end, and when I had finished, he quietly asked me in complete shock: “He (that evil man) has no fear?” Then, with his charming smile, he said to me: “I am entirely Rabbi Kook!” I didn’t understand, and asked him what he meant. He answered: “I have built myself entirely from Rabbi Kook!” He told me that he had read his books, and was elated over every book published from the works of Rabbi Kook ztz”l, so I decided that every book that came out, I would bring to him. And when they published “Pinkasei Ha”Ra’aya” I quickly brought them to him, and he accepted them affectionately (in the presence of some yeshiva students who were a bit puzzled, but Rabbi Dov was faithful to his inner truth…). From then on, I had the privilege of sitting with Rabbi Dov for hours on end, in conversations about ‘mussar‘ (ethics) and rabbinical history. He also received my books warmly, and said that he had very much enjoyed my book “Sichat Avot” – the words of Maran HaRav Kook and his students on Tractate Avot. When I brought him the book of the Gaon Rabbi Yaacov Moshe Charlap ztz”lRazei Li“, after a few weeks he said to me: “This is a superior book.” When I published my book of ‘Ke’marei Barak’ – insights of Rabbi Kook ztz”l on the revealed Torah (‘pilpul’ and halakha) on the weekly Torah portions – Rabbi Dov honored me with a letter of approbation which appears at the beginning of the book.

“On one day during ‘bein ha’zmanim‘ (semester break in yeshiva), I went with my son David to visit him at his son-in-law’s house, and while giving my son some advice on ‘mussar’, he suddenly turned to me, and said (next to his son-in-law): “Did you tell him?” I didn’t understand what he meant, and asked: “What should I have told him?” Rabbi Dov smiled, and motioning with his hand from head to toe, said: “Didn’t you tell him that I built myself up entirely on Rav Kook?” We left in awe.

His Position against the Evil Ridiculer of Rabbis

As mentioned above, the beginning of the acquaintance between Rabbi Dadon and Rabbi Dov Yaffe was in the context of the activity of that evil person, who disseminates in his book and website slander and libel about ‘Gedolei Ha’Rabbanim‘ (eminent rabbis) – first and foremost, Rabbi Kook. In order to stifle him, Rabbi Yitzchak Dadon came to Rabbi Dov Yaffe ztz”l and informed him about it.

“Rabbi Yaffe asked to meet with Rabbi Elyashiv ztz”l at his home, and consult about how to prevent the publication of the book. The meeting was attended by five people, and as per the decision of Rabbi Elyashiv ztz”l, it was decided not to publicly protest against the book, so as not to publicize it even further, but rather to contact the distributors in order to stop its distribution. We turned to the distributors but, unfortunately, under various pretexts, they continue to distribute this venom – the power of money has caused them to deny their rabbis…

“Afterwards, a group was formed of ‘b’nei Torah‘, specifically from the Haredi sector, who came out publicly to fight that heretic, and when they came to Rabbi Dov, he said to them: ‘I am at your disposal, whatever you ask, I will try to help you in this matter.”

His Life Story

Rabbi Dov Yaffe was a virtuous man, an architect of the paths of ‘mussar’, and a leader of its ranks. He was born in Vilna in in 1928, and at the age of seven immigrated to Israel. His family lived in Tel Aviv. In his early life, he studied in the yeshiva of the ‘Yishuv Ha’Chadash’, and later, ascended to Jerusalem to study in the Hebron Yeshiva. There, he became devotedly attached to the head of the yeshiva, the Gaon Rabbi Yechezkel Sarna ztz”l. During that period, he was introduced to a number of outstanding figures living in Jerusalem, the most special of whom was the Gaon Rabbi Yaacov Moshe Charlap ztz”l, the Rosh Yeshiva of Merkaz HaRav. He was close to Rabbi Charlap for about six months, and quoted his words and teachings until his death. When Rabbi Charlap died, Rabbi Dov tore his shirt, as is the halakha when one’s ‘rav muvhak’ (primary rabbi) dies. In time, he said: “The holiest person I was privileged to meet in my life, was Rabbi Yaakov Moshe Charlap.”

“In 1948 Jerusalem was besieged, and his family became increasingly worried about their son. As a result, he was forced to move to the Ponevezh Yeshiva in Bnei Brak. There, he grew close to the Gaon the Chazon Ish ztz”l and became extremely attached to him. Similarly, he became close to the legendary ‘mashgiach‘ of Ponevezh, Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler ztz”l, author of ‘Michtav Me’Eliyahu‘.

The Move to the Slobodka Yeshiva

“In Ponevezh, there was a young yeshiva student who had problems with Torah learning and faith, and Rabbi Dov, who was studying at the yeshiva at the time adopted him, and tried in every way possible to help and encourage him, and instill in him the spark of faith and love of learning. However, his circumstances were shaky. The yeshiva was not patient with him, and, forced to leave, he decided to move to the Slobodka yeshiva. When Rabbi Dov found this out, he made his way to the home of the Chazon Ish, and unfurled the case before him. To his surprise, the Chazon Ish said to Rabbi Dov: “This young man is dependent on you. You must leave the yeshiva with him, and go to the Slabodka yeshiva. And so he did.

“About ten years ago this young man, who by then had already become a husband with his own grown children and grandchildren, met Rabbi Dov’s son in the street, accompanied by some of his children. He stopped the rabbi’s son and said to him: “Do you see these children with whom God has blessed me? You should know that all of them are on account of your father! Thanks to him, I remained in the world of Torah!”

This wonderful story demonstrates the profound understanding of the Chazon Ish, who recognized Rabbi Dov Yaffe’s educational powers as a young man.

Mashgiach’ in Kfar Hasidim

“From Bnei Brak, Rabbi Dov moved on to the main station of his life, the ‘Knesset Chizkiyahu’ yeshiva in Kfar Hasidim, where he was appointed as ‘mashgiach’ under one of the eminent and righteous rabbis of the generation, the senior ‘mashgiach’ Rabbi Eliyahu Lopian ztz”l, and when he passed away in 1970, Rabbi Dov was appointed in his place as the ‘mashgiach’ of the yeshiva (its spiritual administrator). Shortly after his appointment, he was required to make a decision. One of the most prominent yeshiva students was about to get married in Bnei Brak. At that time, transportation from the north to the center of the country was limited, and the journey to and from the wedding would take two days. Since this was an important young man, all the yeshiva students wanted to attend his wedding. The question was whether it was proper to close down the yeshiva for two days in the middle of the semester? The Rosh Yeshiva hesitated, turned to Rabbi Dov, and said to him: “You are the spiritual administrator of the yeshiva – you decide!”

Rabbi Dov thought to himself: How, on the one hand, could he have all the young men take part in the joy of their friend, but on the other hand, not close the yeshiva for two days? His decision was: half of the boys would attend the wedding, and half of them would remain in the yeshiva, but so that those who remained would also be able to participate in the groom’s joy, a festive meal, similar to that of the wedding, would be served in the yeshiva, and the boys would dance in the dining room at the same time as those in Bnei Brak. Thus, the young men who remained, along with their devotion to learning Torah in the yeshiva, would be able to experience the joy of their friend’s wedding.

His Doctrine: Be True

Over the years, other yeshivas sought his guidance, and thus, in addition to his spiritual work in Kfar Hasidim, he was appointed ‘mashgiach‘ at the ‘Kol Yaakov’ yeshiva in Beit Vegan in Jerusalem, and other yeshivas. From then on, he began travelling all over the country, wherever he was asked to come and illuminate the Torah of the masters of ‘mussar’. In the year 2012, he was assigned to the Council of Torah Sages of ‘Degel HaTorah’.

“He warned against imitations, and desires and yearnings for momentary and transient possessions, which are only imitations and forgeries of the Eternal Source. He encouraged aspiring to true greatness, to be true in all ways of life, and thus, his students decreed that his book be entitled: ‘L’avdecha B’emet’ (‘To Serve You in Truth’).

The Measurement of Taking ‘Challah’

Q: How large must the dough mass be to require the taking of ‘challah’ with a blessing?

A: From the amount of one kilo and a half of flour, ‘challah‘ should be set aside with a blessing, and from one kilo and eighty grams, ‘challah‘ should be set aside without a blessing.

The measurement is determined by the volume of flour of 43 ‘beitzim’ (eggs) and one fifth of an egg, which is 2.16 liters. If we had a utensil of this volume it would be excellent, but since we are used to measuring by weight, we have to compare the volume to the weight. According to Rambam, the weight of the flour is about two-thirds of its volume (when the flour is tightly packed), thus, for flour weighing 1.471 kg ‘challah’ must be taken (Laws of Bikurim 6:15). According to many poskim, the flour should be approximated in its normal state as it is sold, or as it is poured out of the bag (Magen Avraham 456:4, Machatzit HaShekel, ibid; Pri Chadash 1), and then, its weight is about half of its volume. And since their opinion should be taken into consideration, ‘challah‘ should be taken without a blessing already from the measurement of 1.080 kg.

However, according to the calculations of Rabbi Chaim Na’eh, the measurements are larger, but this is because he calculated them according to the weight of the coin mentioned by the Rambam (zuz- darham) after the Turks added on to it over 12 percent. The weight of the darham during the days of Rambam was about 2.83 gram, and about four hundred years ago the Turks increased its weight to 3.2 grams. After becoming absolutely clear that the weight of the darham during the days of Rambam was about 12 percent less, the measurements should be updated, and the measurement for Rambam for taking ‘challah‘ is 1.471 kilos, and not 1.666 (the same holds true for a ‘beitza‘, whose volume is 50 cc and not 56, and the measurement of a ‘revi’it‘ is 75 cc, and not 86).

All this refers to regular wheat flour, but barley flour is more airy, and already from approximately 1.060 kilo, ‘challah‘ should be taken with a blessing, and from 880 grams, ‘challah‘ should be taken without a blessing.

It would be appropriate to produce a vessel whose volume is 2.160 liters, in order to ensure that in it, one could safely estimate the measurement of all types of flour obligated by the mitzvah of taking ‘challah‘.

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper, and was translated from Hebrew. Other interesting, informative, and thought-provoking articles by Rabbi Melamed can be found at:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.