Rabbi Solomon - ZT"L

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Rav Lipa Solomon zt”l, one of the last remaining talmidim of the Radin Yeshiva and the Chofetz Chaim. He was 96.

Rav Solomon was just 19 years old when he went to Radin from Lida, where Rav Yaakov Neiman zt”l, author of Darkei Mussar and later rosh yeshiva in Petach Tikvah, was rosh yeshiva. The yeshiva sent bochurim to all yeshivos, and the Va’ad Hayeshivos decided which bochur went where. Rav Solomon was chosen to go to the Radin Yeshiva, which had about 300 bochurim at the time.

The Chofetz Chaim was already quite old when Rav Solomon arrived in Radin. At that time, the Chofetz Chaim remained mostly in his house and bochurim would go to his house to talk to him during the week. On Shabbos, Rav Solomon remembered, the Chofetz Chaim gave a shmuess in his house between kabbolas Shabbos and Maariv.
Rav Solomon had numerous personal recollections and stories about the Chofetz Chaim that he would relate, having experienced them firsthand.

One of the many stories he related actually occurred before he arrived in Radin and was told to him by the bochurim in the Radin Yeshiva. A girl working in the yeshiva had a question regarding the kashrus of a chicken. She approached the Chofetz Chaim with the chicken, and he told her to ask the rov in Radin. The rov looked at the chicken and said that it was kosher, “aber es iz nisht far de Chofetz Chaim, but it’s not for the Chofetz Chaim.” She returned to the yeshiva and prepared the chicken but forgot about the message. Later, the bochurim noticed that the Chofetz Chaim was not eating the chicken. When the bochurim inquired as to why he wasn’t eating, he replied, “Es is nisht far mir - It’s not for me.” The girl heard the discussion in the dining room and recalled that those were the exact words told to her by the rov about the chicken.

Rav Solomon was in Radin at the time of the Chofetz Chaim’s petirah, on an Erev Shabbos. Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky zt”l said that they should wait until Sunday so that more people could come, and Rav Solomon was one of about 10,000 people who gathered for the levaya. Rav Solomon remained in Radin, where Rav Mendel Zaks zt”l, the Chofetz Chaim’s son-in-law, became rosh yeshiva, and Rav Boruch Feivelson zt”l gave shiur to the entire yeshiva, while Rav Avrohom Tropp zt”l, Rav Naftoli’s son, gave shiur to the younger bochurim.

Rav Solomon merited to greet Rav Elchonon Wasserman who came to the Radin Yeshiva for the month of Elul.

During World War II, Rav Solomon fled to Vilna, which was where many yeshivos had escaped to. When the Russians took over the town, the Yidden were given orders to declare their loyalty to Russia. Few people knew the proper answer to what seemed to be a life-or-death decision. The question was whether to stay in Russia, which was Communist, or not declare their loyalty and get sent to Siberia or some other life-threatening place. Rav Solomon decided to be shev ve’al taaseh - do nothing and trust in Hashem and see what happens. Since he didn’t declare his allegiance to Russia, he was arrested and sent to Siberia. He considered this terrible news at the time, but he later realized that it was his ticket to safety, since Germany invaded Russia just two weeks later and killed everyone who was left behind. Rav Solomon eventually went to Samarkand (Russia), Lodz, and France, and then traveled to America in 1947.

Rav Solomon lived on the East Side of Manhattan where he joined Kollel Chofetz Chaim for three years. The Joint had provided money for many refugees during those years, but once money was no longer provided, Rav Solomon had to find a job, so he moved to Boston in 1950.

About ten years ago, after living in Boston for 50 years and serving as a rov and later a rebbi, Rav Solomon moved to Lakewood and settled in the West Gate neighborhood there. On a regular basis, the oldest member of West Gate regaled its residents with stories of the yeshiva world of Europe and provided children with a glimpse of what a ben Torah of previous generations was like. Rav Solomon, a talmid chochom of note and a true yorei Shomayim, was a devoted husband, father and zaida to his mishpacha. His simplicity and humility were his trademarks, as he devoted his life to the furtherance and study of Torah.

Rav Solomon is survived by his devoted wife, Rebbetzin Sima Solomon, and children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren following in his path.

Yehi zichro boruch.

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