“When the mashchis is given permission, he does not differentiate between tzaddikim and reshaim, and he begins with a tzaddik….” (Bava Kama, 60a)
Harav Yisroel Plutchok, zt”l, was a rare talmid chacham and tzaddik who lived in Kensington, and he was marbitz Torah in the Boro Park community for 45 years. In 1975, as a young man, he founded Yeshiva Derech Chaim together with his late brother in law, Harav Mordechai Rennert, zt”l. They began with but eight bachurim, and their Rosh Yeshiva, Harav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, zt”l, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Torah Ore in Yerushalayim assured them, “If your endeavor is l’shem Shamayim and with mesirus nefesh, you will be matzliach”.
The two of them toiled hard, with perseverance and sincerity, and they were invested with a great deal of bitachon that they were doing the right thing. In the beginning, the two of them would arrive at the yeshiva on Friday afternoon to mop the floor and clean the Beis Medrash. As the yeshiva grew, a building was purchased at the corner of 16th Avenue and 39th Street, and it developed into a bastion of Torah and mussar. Eventually, the bachurim and yungeleit numbered 200.
The hallmark of Yeshiva Derech Chaim is the close relationship that the Roshei Yeshiva develop with their talmidim, and Rav Plutchok was devoted to his students with his heart and soul. For 45 years, he was available to teach, advise, counsel and most of all to give his ahavah.
“He treated us like his own children,” a talmid of Rav Plutchok told Hamodia. “We felt comfortable going over to him and discussing whatever was on our mind. He took achrayus for each one of us, and dispensed his advice as if he was speaking with and caring for his own child.”
A Rebbi once approached Harav Avraham Pam, zt”l, for advice as to where he should send a bachur who came from an ‘out of town’ community, and required special attention to make him thrive. “Send him to Yeshiva Derech Chaim,” Rav Pam advised. “Over there, Rav Plutchok and Rav Rennert will surely look after him.”
Rav Plutchok gave two shiurim a day; in the morning, he delivered a blatt shiur in a Masechta that was not generally studied in the seder hayeshiva, and in the afternoon, he said a halachah shiur for alumni. In addition, he delivered a mussar shmuez every other week.
Rav Plutchok, who was in his upper 70s, was hospitalized recently with coronavirus and was niftar Thursday afternoon. The levayah was scheduled to take place at 9:00 pm, but in accordance with the police orders, absolutely no outsiders would be allowed to participate.
The yeshiva announced that hespeidim will iy”H will be arranged at a later date.
Yehi zichro baruch.