May 29, 2024
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First Yahrzeit of Rav Binyamin Tabory, z”l, Marked From Israel Via Zoom

How do you mark the first yahrzeit of a beloved Torah scholar who inspired generations of talmidim and talmidot for 50 years? By offering tributes from around the globe to listeners from around the world through Zoom. Rabbanit Naomi Tabory and the Tabory family arranged for a most meaningful and inspirational tribute to mark the first yahrzeit of Rav Binyamin Tabory, z”l, on the second of Elul. On Sunday, the third of Elul, the “hakamat matzevah” was held in the morning in the regional cemetery in Kfar Etzion to be followed in the evening by the Zoom tribute.

Presenting tributes to their beloved teacher and mentor were those representing many different educational institutions in many parts of the world where Rav Tabory had left such deep legacies. After receiving semicha from Yeshiva University’s RIETS in 1969, Rav Tabory was recruited out to Los Angeles where he taught at Yavneh Hebrew Academy for three years. Professor Gary Remer from Los Angeles was one of his earliest students who later learned with Rav Tabory at Yeshivat Har Tzion as did his son Amos, now an IDF soldier. Remer recalls the two books gifted to him at his bar mitzvah by Rav Tabory, both describing the lives of giants of Torah. Speaker after speaker spoke of Rav Tabory’s great respect and emulation of talmidei chachamim and his determination to make his students familiar with their names and writings.

In most of his shiurim he presented Torah commentaries by Rav Yosef Soloveichik with whom he had the honor to study.

Upon making aliyah in 1971 with their new daughter Adina, the Taborys spent four years in Pardes Chana where Rav Tabory taught in Midreshet Noam, the only r”m with a knitted kippah and a master’s degree. Their son Aviad was born during their time in Pardes Chana. From this position he was invited by Rav Moshe Lichtenstein to join the faculty at Yeshivat Har Etzion in the Gush. First serving as Mashgiach Ruchani, he soon went on to teach an Israeli shiur for 30 years. Along with his regular shiur, he gave numerous chugim to the American students in specific topics, and thus began the special bonds and unique relationships that developed between the Taborys and the many hundreds of American students whose lives intersected at the Gush and wherever Rav Tabory taught. This included close ties made with the talmidot at Midreshet Moriah where Rav Tabory taught at the invitation of the founders, Rabbi Meir and Rabbanit Vicky Berglass, dear friends of the Taborys. Throughout the presentations, mention was made of the fond memories of warm Shabbatot spent at the Tabory home in Alon Shvut where the students were treated to a Friday night “tish” regaled by Rav Tabory with his favorite Modzhitzer niggunim and popular Shlomo Carlebach melodies. These students felt themselves to be bnei/bnot bayit by the Taborys, and these relationships have often continued until today.

The Taborys left Israel only to assume key educational positions in other communities where Rav Tabory’s gifts would be welcomed. In Toronto, Rav Tabory served as the second rosh yeshiva of the Bnei Akiva Yeshiva Ohr Chaim and its sister school the Ulpana. In 1994, the Taborys spent a Sabbatical in Cleveland, Ohio, establishing the first Torah Mitzion Kollel in the United States. Dr. Moshe Berger of Cleveland recalled the honor he felt when asked to be a chavruta with Rav Tabory and the inspiration he received from Rav Tabory’s “child-like delight and enthusiasm” at discovering a new concept in learning. From 2004-5 the Taborys spent a sabbatical year in Riverdale where they and the community were in a mutual admiration relationship. Rabbi Gideon Rothstein recalls the many wonderful Shabbatot spent with the Taborys in Riverdale and the lesson Rav Tabory taught him about celebrating Yom Yerushalayim with a “seudah.”

From the summers of 2000 to 2012, Rav Tabory served as the camp rabbi at Camp Moshava in Indian Orchard, Pennsylvania. Oren Neiman recalled Rav Tabory’s daily shiurim, often given outside so that passersby could join in even briefly. He recalls the “hadras panim,” glow of the face, of Rav Tabory as he delivered his shiurim with such ease and fluency, always citing gedolim so that the youngsters would relate to them and their teachings. One of Rav Tabory’s favorite responsibilities at Moshava was checking the kashrut of the local ice cream establishments. Whenever he came and the proprietors wished to treat the “chief rabbi” to a sample, he would refuse and pay so that he would remain honest in his assessment of the kashrut.

Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Spitzer, who serves as the rabbi of Congregation Alei Tzion in London and was a student of Rav Tabory at Gush, recalls how when Rav Tabory spent a year from 2007-8 as rabbi of his shul, on Shavuot night he presented a two-hour shiur on tzitzit based on Rav Soloveichik’s teachings with little preparation. During his 30 years at Gush, Rav Tabory led student groups to Russia, South Africa and Poland, delivering shiurim applicable to each location.

After retiring in 2009 from the Gush, Rav Tabory continued teaching at Shaalvim for Women. Because of physical limitations, the classes were often held at his home in Alon Shvut. Tragically, at the end of 2013, Rav Tabory was diagnosed with ALS. His physical deterioration from that point on was swift. However, he was able to express his gratitude that while his body was shutting down, his mind was still active. Throughout these last years, his talmidim and talmidot came to visit and bring him articles to read.

Rav Tabory, z”l, is sorely missed by all those whose lives he touched around the world. Presenter after presenter recalled the “twinkle in his eyes” as he expounded upon Torah with such evident love and appreciation. As Rabbi Mordechai Willig commented at the conclusion of the Zoom, even at the end of his life it was evident that “the shechina hovered above his head.”

Yehi Zichro Baruch!

By Pearl Markovitz

 

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