The Boro Park community and Belzer Chassidim worldwide mourned the passing of revered posek, Harav Shlomo Gross, zt”l, who served as head Dayan of the Belzer Kehillah in America.
With his vast knowledge, his drive to find the most practical solution for those who approached him, and his caring heart, hundreds if not thousands flocked to him as their posek, both from within as well as from far beyond the Belzer community, meriting the distinction as one of the area’s foremost halachic authorities.
Rav Gross was born in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1946. His father, Reb Moshe, z”l, had been a “yoshev” in Belz in his younger years and his mother, Mrs. Eidel Briendel Gross, a”h, was descended from a family of prominent Belzer Chassidim. The family clung to their traditions with great self-sacrifice, maintaining one of the few authentic chassidishe homes in the city.
Even at a very young age, Shlomo strove for ever greater heights in Torah and avodah. Not satisfied with the chinuch available in Geneva at the time, at the tender age of 8, he traveled to Antwerp to attend a cheder there. At 12, he joined the Belzer Yeshivah in Eretz Yisrael. Despite being years younger than most of his fellow talmidim and far from home, he quickly distinguished himself as one of the yeshivah’s sharpest minds and most diligent students.
In 1965, he married Pesel Ungar, a”h, the daughter of Reb Shmuel Ungar z”l, a prominent member of the Belzer kehillah in Williamsburg. Shortly after their chasunah, the couple departed for Eretz Yisrael, where Rav Gross continued his ascent as a budding talmid chacham. While in kollel, as in his days as a bachur, he spent untold hours engrossed in learning, filling the beis medrash with his loud and sweet voice.
During this period, he also rose as one of the most dedicated Chassidim of the Belzer Rebbe, shlita, who had just accepted the mantle of leadership. With utmost sense of humility and bittul, he was a consummate masmid who sat Shabbos for hours at the tischen and tefillos of the Rebbe who is several years his junior.
In the early 1970s, Rav Gross and his young family moved to America where he assumed the position as leader of the newly founded Belzer Kollel, then located in Crown Heights. In these early years of harbotzas haTorah, he became the teacher and mentor to many who would become Rabbanim which served under him on Belz’s beis din.
As the kehillah grew, the need for a Dayan became apparent, and at the behest of the Belzer Rebbe, Rav Gross left his position as Rosh Kollel and began to prepare himself as a posek. While primarily being meshamesh, the Pupa Rav, Harav Yosef Grunwald, zt”l, he often consulted and corresponded with many of the Gedolei Torah of the time who held him in high esteem.
As Dayan, Rav Gross’ crystal clear knowledge of Halachah and brilliant psakim was rivaled only by his sincere dedication to those who posed she’eilos to him or any Jew he felt he could help. On many occasions, what began as a halachic query became a personal project to help the inquirer deal with the situation behind their question.
With utmost commitment he made himself available at all hours of the day to be available for those with halachic queries. Despite rising daily at 5 a.m, when Belz first established its beis horaah phone line, he volunteered to take a shift that began at midnight.
Rav Gross regularly delivered shiurim to the Belzer kehillah as well as in its kollelim and with time, became increasingly involved with its rapidly expanding mosdos and the general needs of the tzibbur. Notwithstanding the tremendous demands on his time, he continued spending countless hours poring over his sefarim and learned long daily sedarim together with one of the kollelim.
The levayah was held at the Belzer beis medrash on 16th Avenue before proceeding to Eretz Yisrael, where an additional levayah before kevurah was scheduled to take place.
Rav Gross is survived by a family of many Rabbanim and marbitzei Torah, as well as by many grandchildren.
Yehi zichro baruch
Updated Thursday, November 10, 2016 at 7:45 pm details of the levaya and tribute