A Mild-Mannered Ball of Fire

Rabbi Dov Fuchs (An American in Yerushalayim: “Cherished Assets,” August 5, 2020) was on target when he claimed that Reb Ovadiah Goldblatt, z”l, was a most cherished asset. Indeed, he was not sufficiently appreciated, not only by his “talmidim,” but by all who knew him.

A mild-mannered man, “Obie,” for that was the name by which we knew him, was a quiet ball of fire. His Torah knowledge, especially in areas that most people never learn, such as the laws of Krias haTorah, Nach, etc., was a well-kept secret, except for those times when he would conduct a “small shiur” and ensure that his knowledge would not be lost in the next generation.

Those of us who knew Obie spurred him on and made efforts for the world to “discover” him, but his humility always prevented it. Still, anyone who came in contact with him was struck by his superior qualities.

I first met Obie Goldblatt in the 1960s, when we were both part of Inter-Yeshiva Student Council, a loosely organized group of bnei yeshivah bent on improving the world. At the request of Gedolei Yisrael, we reached out to eighth-grade boys and their parents in an effort to get them to continue on to yeshivah high schools. In those days, in some neighborhoods, the vast majority of children went to public school.

How a soft-spoken individual like Obie Goldblatt was able to succeed in this social interaction has always puzzled me, but, as I got to know Obie, I saw that his inner dedication and his drive took over his being. As I said, he was a quiet ball of fire. Also, many were able to recognize his sweet nature and his sensitivity to others.

Over the years, I was fortunate to discover some of Obie’s chiddushim, his insights, and his extensive knowledge.

He is sorely missed by all who were zocheh to know him.

Rabbi Yosef Wikler, Lakewood, N.J.

Editor, KASHRUS Magazine