At the end of Shabbos Shuvah 5777, the news was received with great pain and grief at the passing of a saintly individual of exceptional learning and piety, who had mastered every part of the Torah, a humble person who loved people and drew them to the Torah — Harav Shlomo Yechiel Meir Blum, zt”l.
A distinguished member of the chassidei Gur community, editor-in-chief of the Talmud Yerushalmi of Machon Darkei Simcha, author of Shoel K’inyan on Torah and Moadim, and a teacher at Yeshivas Lev Simchah in Arad, he returned his holy neshamah to his Creator at the age of 52.
Chassidei Gur, the local Torah community, and all the rest of the Jewish people who knew him and encountered his luminous personality were struck with deep sorrow at the news. The vacuum that he leaves in the community is immeasurable. The constant light that shone forth from him, full of love for his fellow Jews, and the love of Torah that he instilled ceaselessly in his students and countless friends — all this and more will be missed, though b’ezras Hashem, it will find continuity in those who follow in his path.
Rav Blum was born on 11 Nisan, 1965, in Boro Park, Brooklyn. His father was Harav Yehuda Aryeh Leib Blum, zt”l, author of Kav Hataarich, the grandson of Harav Moshe Haim Blum, zt”l, the Rav of Zamoshetz and a member of the Council of Torah Sages in Poland. His matriarchal grandfather was Harav Yosef Mansfeld, zt”l, of the Rabbanim of Kalish.
The mother of the niftar, Mrs. Faiga Rachel Blum, a”h, was the daughter of Harav Dovid Mintzberg, zt”l, mashgiach of Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin and one of the founders of the Bais Yaakov movement in Poland. Harav Dovid was the son of Harav Yerachmiel Yeshayahu Mintzberg, zt”l, the Rav of Lokov, one of the leading poskim of Poland and the grandson of Harav Avraham Mintzberg, zt”l, grandson of the holy Rebbes Reb Dovid of Lelov and the Yehudi HaKadosh of Peshischa, zy”a.
In his youth, Harav Shlomo Yechiel Meir Blum learned in the Yeshiva Yagdil Torah in the U.S. Afterward, he learned in Mesivta Bais Yisrael. Throughout his life he was a devoted Gerrer Chassid.
While still very young, his parents encouraged him to travel to Yerushalayim to continue his studies in Yeshivas Sfas Emes. There he distinguished himself for his industriousness in learning, always the first to arrive in the beis medrash and not leaving his place the entire day. The Rebbe of Ger, the Pnei Menachem, zy”a, noticed him and drew him close.
In addition to his Talmudic studies, he also mastered large parts of Mishnah Berurah and a range of Chassidic sefarim.
He married Sarah, the daughter of Harav Moshe Zev Feldman, zt”l, Rosh Yeshivah, Imrei Emes, and chairman of the International Agudas Yisrael. He built his home of Torah and yiras Shamayim together with, ybl”c, his wife, with endless devotion and self-sacrifice for their children.
After several months in Bnei Brak near his father-in-law, he moved south to Arad on the counsel of the Lev Simchah, zy”a, the founder of the Chassidic community there. He continued to grow in Torah and yirah under the guidance of the Rosh Kollel, Harav Moshe Mandleboim, zt”l, and was given semichah.
Rav Blum concentrated his energies on the Talmud Yerushalmi at the encouragement of the Lev Simchah, and at Darkei Simchah, he gathered material for the publication of Otzar Mefarshei Hayerushalmi, a labor of many years. Then he edited the commentary of the Lev Simchah on the Yerushalmi, Ohr Simchah, also published by Darkei Simchah.
Besides his writing and editing, he was a devoted rebbi to his students, giving of his wisdom, time, energy, and love to help them acquire skills for learning and appreciation of the holy Torah.
An only son, he was especially close to his father, Reb Leibel, whom he treated with great honor and respect. His father spent many hours with him studying all matters relating to Kav Hataarich.
His three volumes, Shoel K’inyan, which appeared just a few years ago, made a strong impression on the Torah world; his vast erudition astounded readers.
At the height of his powers, about a year and a half ago, he fell ill, but accepted his suffering with love. He would say, “Daven for me. There are bachurim who need me. The Talmud Yerushalmi waits for me.”
Even in his last days, while bedridden, he welcomed warmly all who came to visit him and strove to make everyone feel good.
His condition took a turn for the worse on Leil Shabbos. He was aware of the change, and the doctor was summoned. Surrounded by family members, he returned his neshamah to his Creator.
The levayah departed Beis Hamidrash Ger in Yerushalayim on Motzoei Shabbos, accompanied by thousands, led by the Gerrer Rebbe, shlita.
Among the maspidim were: Harav Mordechai Chaim Halevi Wolkowitz, Rosh Yeshivah and Rav of the Chassidei Ger in Arad; his brother-in-law Harav Yitzchak Yosef Zilberberg of Yeshivas Orlyoi; and Harav Avraham Mordechai Abramowitz, menahel ruchani of Yeshivas Lev Simchah.
Rav Blum leaves behind a dor yesharim, including, ybl”c, his wife, sons, sons-in-law, daughters, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren, all seeking to follow in his holy ways.