Yehuda Kalman Marlow, a’h, Mara D’Asra and member
of the Crown Heights Beis Din * 10 Adar I 5692 (1932) - 20 Sivan
AND RAV COMBINED
the past, it was necessary to make sure that in addition to a rav
there would also be a mashpia. This was because a rav
would teach nigleh d’Torah along with practical halacha,
and a mashpia would teach pnimiyus ha’Torah with
its practical application. However, regarding rabbanei Lubavitch,
they have both advantages. Thus, they are one unified whole.” (Sicha
Motzaei Shabbos Truma 5748).
description was fully realized in Rabbi Yehuda Kalman Marlow, who
was an expert in halacha as well as a Chassid permeated by pnimiyus
ha’Torah and pnimiyusdike Chassidic ways.
Yehuda Kalman Marlow was born on 10 Adar Rishon 5692 (1932) in
Frankfurt, Germany. His father was R’ Avrohom Yehoshua
Malinovsky, who greatly admired Torah scholars. His mother, Rochel,
descended from a well-known chain of rabbis, first among them the
great gaon R’ Heschel, av beis din of the Cracow
community. In his work Sheim HaGedolim, the Chida
wrote about him that “there are many rabbis and gaonim
among his descendants, the holy ones that are in the land of life.
Among the living rabbis and gaonim of the generation, his
grandchildren and relatives, may their names be eternal, so may it
be G-d’s will.”
the rise of the Nazi party, life in Germany became intolerable,
and in 5699 the Malinovsky family emigrated to the United States
and settled in Newark, New Jersey, where they shortened their name
to Marlow. R’ Avrohom refused work opportunities that involved chilul
Shabbos, and preferred demeaning and difficult work as long as
he could remain shomer Shabbos. Six-year-old Yehuda Kalman
endured great hardship, as there were times that he simply went
hungry. This experience, however, educated him to stand up for his
principles under the most trying circumstances.
the difficult financial situation, R’ Avrohom Yehoshua sent his
young son to learn in Torah Vodaas, where he was first introduced
to Chabad Chassidus through Rabbi Shalom Dov Ber Gordon (may he
have a refua shleima). Rabbi Gordon was a young Lubavitcher
who had emigrated to the U.S. a few years before, and began
disseminating Chassidus in Jewish schools.
R’ Avrohom Yehoshua was not a Chassid, he loved the Chassidic
lifestyle, and when the Rebbe Rayatz came to the U.S. he went with
the Chassidim to the Rebbe’s farbrengen. Over the years,
R’ Avrohom Yehoshua participated in the Rebbe Rayatz’s farbrengens
on a number of occasions, and even had yechidus twice with
the Rebbe. Sometimes he took his son along so that he could
breathe the Chassidic atmosphere in the Rebbe’s court. Since
young bachurim were not allowed to participate in the farbrengens,
young Rabbi Marlow had to hide. When he became bar mitzva,
his father asked for a yechidus for him, but the Rebbe was
not well at the time and very few people were granted an audience.
Shabbos, Yud Shvat 5710, Rabbi Marlow was in Newark, where he
heard of the passing of the Rebbe Rayatz. He rushed to Beis
Chayeinu and took part in the large funeral that took place
the next day. By this time he had already transferred to Yeshivas
Tomchei Tmimim in New York, and from time to time he would go to
Crown Heights and participate in the Rebbe MH”M’s farbrengens.
one occasion, Rabbi Marlow related that he had been at the Yud-Beis
Tammuz 5713 farbrengen, at the end of which the Rebbe
distributed mashke, telling each participant matters that
pertained to the future. When Rabbi Marlow passed before the
Rebbe, the Rebbe spoke to him for a longer time concerning the
future. Rabbi Marlow didn’t hear everything the Rebbe said
because of the noise in the beis midrash, but what he did
make out was, “nehenin mimenu eitza v’sushiya” (they
benefit from him, receiving advice and counsel).
year on his birthday, Rabbi Marlow had a yechidus with the
Rebbe in which he was asked what masechta he was learning.
After answering that he was learning Maseches Gittin, the
Rebbe asked how he learned it. Rabbi Marlow said he learned the
Gemara with Rashi, Tosafos, and commentaries. The Rebbe asked him,
“And what about the poskim?” From then on, Rabbi Marlow
put special emphasis on learning the practical halachic
applications of whatever masechta was being learned in yeshiva.
that time, Rabbi Marlow learned in Yeshivas Tomchei Tmimim in 770.
He was known for his tremendous diligence, and his teachers
predicted greatness for him. He received his smicha from
the roshei yeshivas Tomchei Tmimim at a young age.
Nachman Shapiro related an episode that he heard from Rabbi Leibel
Groner. One night the Rebbe asked Rabbi Groner why the lights in
the beis midrash were burning late at night. Rabbi Groner
told the Rebbe that Rabbi Marlow was still sitting there learning sifrei
poskim. The Rebbe asked him to shut all the lights except for
the one directly above Rabbi Marlow. Due to his great absorption
in his studies, Rabbi Marlow didn’t even notice Rabbi Groner
enter the beis midrash and shut off the lights.
the meal of Acharon Shel Pesach 5718, the Rebbe called Rabbi
Marlow by his first name, asked him whether he had drunk the four
cups of wine, and poured for him from the bottle of wine on his
table. This kiruv (show of affection) expressed the special
relationship between master and student, a student who didn’t
leave his studies for even a moment.
5719, Rabbi Marlow married Chaya Reicher. His wife’s mother had
been murdered by the Nazis in a concentration camp, and his wife
had been miraculously saved and had emigrated to America. She was
welcomed with open arms by the Becker family, who adopted her as
their daughter. The Rebbe was their mesader kiddushin.
the time, Rabbi Marlow worked as a teacher in the Lubavitcher
Yeshiva. After teaching in the morning, he would go to a shul where
he sat and learned assiduously. He would return home late at
Marlow had a special program of study on Shabbos. After davening
he would put two tallis bags full of s’farim down
on the table and would study them in a certain order, generally
until 11:00 p.m. Only then would he return home for the Shabbos
meal. His son, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Marlow, remembers that his
mother would serve him the Shabbos meal before he went to Maariv
so that he would be able to go to sleep right after Kiddush,
which took place late at night.
Shabbos Mevarchim Rabbi Marlow wouldn’t go to sleep at all.
After the meal, he would nap in his chair for about two hours and
get up and wash his hands. Then he would say Birchos HaShachar
and begin reciting Tehillim. He would typically finish the
entire book twice every Shabbos Mevarchim.
year, Rabbi Marlow would complete a number of mesechtos b’iyun,
and on Erev Pesach, since he was a firstborn, he would make
a siyum on a masechta and still he would fast.
Fasting on such a busy day didn’t stop him from remaining in shul
after Maariv for his regular shiurim. A few hours
after the last person left the shul, the Rav would go home
to break his fast and make the seider.
Rav’s son-in-law, Rabbi Yosef Ben-Tzion Schechter, remembers the
seider night as a very special experience. “The Rav would
sit and read the Hagada in an especially intense way,
enunciating each word exactly the way we say ‘Hashem hu
ha’Elokim’ in T’fillas Ne’ila.”
the Rav tried to hide his erudition, he couldn’t conceal his
tremendous diligence from all those who saw him in shul.
They always saw him sitting in his corner, delving deeply into his
s’farim. Some people began approaching him with their halachic
queries, and discovered that the Rav was fluent in all of the
Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch by heart, word for
word. More and more people asked him questions and he became an
Rav in Crown Heights at the time was Rabbi Zalman Shimon Dvorkin, a’h,
who spoke mostly in Yiddish and wasn’t that comfortable in
English. Baalei teshuva who joined the community couldn’t
communicate with Rabbi Dvorkin and preferred asking Rabbi Marlow
their questions. Rabbi Marlow, however, did not want to “pasken
in the presence of his teacher” and would, therefore, not
answer directly; he would open the Shulchan Aruch to
the section that addressed the topic and learn it with them
until they understood what to do.
Marlow acquired his incredible proficiency in Shulchan Aruch
through his intensive studies. Before every Yom Tov
he reviewed all the pertinent halachos in depth, and he had
a special program of study for the halachos that apply all
Rabbi Marlow would lie down for a brief rest before Pesach, he
would ask his son to sit near his bed with a Shulchan Aruch
and test him on the index at the back. His son would say a certain
topic and the Rav would respond with the simanim that dealt
with the topic. This was Rabbi Marlow’s rest on Erev Pesach.
from his incredible mastery of Shulchan Aruch and
other halachic works, the Rav knew the entire Torah by
heart with Rashi’s commentary and Targum Unkelus.
“He knew Targum Unkelus like we know Ashrei,”
testifies his son-in-law Rabbi Schechter. He was also an exacting baal
korei, fluent in the taamei ha’mikra. His son relates
that in the last weeks of his life, when there was a minyan in
his house, the Rav, confined to bed and unable to look inside a Chumash,
would nonetheless correct the baal korei, Rabbi Levi
Yitzchok Garelik, on even minor errors.
the Rav was knowledgeable in sifrei Kabbala, too. R’
Yosef Brook, who worked alongside Rabbi Marlow for the last
fourteen years, once heard a rav who was involved in
building mikvaos say that for years he wondered why round mikvaos
weren’t built. He had asked dozens of rabbanim and
nobody had an answer for him. When he asked Rabbi Marlow, the Rav
answered him on the spot that it was based on Kabbala, and
referred him to a Kabbalistic source giving the reason.
Rav’s memory was truly awesome; whatever he learned or heard he
remembered. In later years, after he was elected rav, he
began officiating as mesader kiddushin. After writing the tenaim
and the k’suba with all the details of the cosigners and
the witnesses, etc., he would give the k’suba to the chassan
and read it through again in order to ensure there were no
mistakes. Some people noticed that the copy the Rav held was
blank, without the names of the chassan, kalla, witnesses,
etc., and although he had only heard the names one time, the Rav
read from the blank copy as though he were reading from the k’suba
IN THE SUCCA
the Rebbe MH”M ate the Yom Tov meals on the second
floor of 770 with the ziknei ha’Chassidim, young men
would ask the Rashag (the Rebbe’s brother-in-law) interesting
questions so that he could bring them up at the meal, and the
Rebbe would answer them.
Succos 5730, Rabbi Marlow asked the Rashag why the Chabad custom
is not to sleep in the succa, although al pi din
there is an obligation to do so. He also asked why Chabad
Chassidim are extremely stringent about not eating or drinking
outside the succa, even under circumstances when al pi
din they could be lenient.
Rashag asked the Rebbe, and at the farbrengen on the second
day of Yom Tov, the Rebbe referred to the question
and explained the Chabad custom at length. After finishing the
explanation, the Rebbe smiled and said that since “all who delve
into the laws of sleeping are as if they are actually sleeping,”
they should sing a happy niggun. The Rebbe strongly
encouraged the singing, and the large crowd danced in place with
one of the piles of benches making up bleachers collapsed,
crushing Rabbi Marlow’s leg. Despite the terrible pain, the Rav
didn’t say a word so as not to disturb the farbrengen.
The organizing committee rushed over and began moving people
aside. The Rav was at this point lying on the ground, and when
they tried moving him, they noticed his leg crushed under the
fallen benches. The singing had stopped and the Rebbe looked grave
as he kept looking at that spot.
great effort, they managed to get the Rav out. Then they brought
him to the hospital for emergency treatment. The Rav’s leg was
in a cast for six months, and some have said that the Rebbe showed
concern about every stage of the treatment. At that difficult
time, one could see how particular the Rav was about taking a
daily mikva. As soon as he was able to, while still in his
cast, the Rav went to the mikva and immersed, keeping his
leg out of the water.
Aharon Chitrik, who had been standing near the Rav when the
benches fell, relates that on Motzaei Simchas Torah of that
year, two of the Rav’s friends went to visit him in the hospital
and brought him on crutches to the Rebbe’s farbrengen.
The Rebbe was in the middle of a sicha as they entered, and
the Rav stood off to the side so as not to attract attention. When
the sicha was finished, the Rebbe looked in his direction
and motioned for them to bring him up to the bima and give
the break between sichos, the Rebbe said that this was the
time to finish the topic they had begun on Succos about the Chabad
custom of not sleeping in the succa. After that sicha,
the Rav said that he realized that the Rebbe knew exactly who had
asked the question, and he felt that this was the Rebbe’s way of
Succos, the Rav acted stringently and did not go to sleep.
Even this year, weak from his terrible illness, he did not get
into bed from the beginning of Yom Tov until Motzaei
Simchas Torah. He danced at night at the Simchas Beis
HaShoeiva, and at most, would nap in his office while
sitting in his chair.
Motzaei Shabbos, 17 Adar 5745, Rabbi Dvorkin, Rav of Crown
Heights, passed away. Less than a year later, elections were held
in which the residents of Crown Heights selected three rabbanim:
Rabbi Marlow, Rabbi Avrohom Osdoba, and Rabbi Yosef Heller. Rabbi
Marlow was elected with a stunning majority of over 800 votes out
of 1,000 possible votes! It was only natural that Rabbi Marlow be
selected as mara d’asra of the community after serving as
a member of the beis din rabbanei Lubavitch, headed by
Rabbi Dvorkin, for years.
Rebbe was personally involved in the election process. When
certain askanim tried to interfere with the elections, the
Rebbe uncharacteristically stated (sicha Shabbos
Mattos-Massei 5746), “When I saw the situation, I had no
choice but to put everything else aside to ensure that everything
about the elections for rabbanim be according to the Shulchan
Rebbe made another interesting comment in the sicha of Shabbos
Mishpatim 5747: “Crown Heights is one of the few communities in
which the rabbanim were elected by the entire tzibur.
All men of the community were called upon to personally
participate in the elections, and most responded and came to a
holy location, a beis knesses and beis midrash,
particularly the beis knesses and beis midrash of
the Rebbe, my father-in-law, nasi doreinu, where they
themselves elected the rabbanim, a fact which gives the rabbanim
the greatest possible authority.”
that sicha, the Rebbe recited the statement of our Sages
and applied it to the rabbanim of the community:
“Yerubaal in his generation was like Moshe in his generation...Yiftach
in his generation was like Shmuel in his generation...when a
leader is appointed over the tzibur he is like the
mightiest of the mighty [abir she’be’abirim]...you may
only go to the judge of your times!”
Rebbe continued, “It makes no difference whether this fact
pleases them or not. It is the same as the fact that they
weren’t consulted about the giving of the Ten Commandments, the
613 mitzvos of the Torah, and everything a scholar will
innovate in the future, long before he and his father were born,
as well as those who educated him to conduct himself in this way.
The reality is that these rabbanim were elected by the
majority of the community, and they will continue to serve in this
rabbanus until the coming of the righteous redeemer!”
sicha that dealt with the special position of Chabad rabbanim
was said on Motzaei Shabbos Truma 5748 after the conclusion
of shiva for Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, a’h. After
that famous sicha, the rabbanim of the community,
led by Rabbi Marlow, went to the Rebbe’s home. Rabbi Marlow
spoke along the same lines as the Rebbe’s sicha, saying
we are in the week of Parshas V’Ata Tetzaveh, and we all know
who the “V’Ata” [and you] is. So the Rebbe will
surely have length of days and good years. The Rebbe listened to
Rabbi Marlow and then said with a smile, “but it should be
without the ‘kasis la’maor’ [crushing].”
Erev Pesach 5747, the first Erev Pesach after being elected
rav of the community, the telephone at Rabbi Marlow’s
house rang at the time of bedikas chametz. Rabbi Chadakov,
the Rebbe’s secretary, was on the line, and he told Rabbi Marlow
that the Rebbe asked that he come to 770. Rabbi Osdoba and Rabbi
Heller were there, as well. Rabbi Chadakov told them in the
Rebbe’s name that during the year between Rabbi Dvorkin’s
passing and the elections, the Rebbe had sold his chametz to
Rabbi Yisroel Yitzchok Piekarsky. Since you cannot sell chametz
to three rabbanim, this year the Rebbe would sell his chametz
to Rabbi Piekarsky again. However, since they were the rabbanim
of the community, the Rebbe asked that each of them be given a
hundred-dollar bill. From that time on, every Erev Pesach,
the rabbanim received a hundred-dollar bill from the Rebbe.
Cheshvan 5750, the Rebbe wrote: “Obviously I am satisfied with
the Vaad HaRabbanim shlita of the community. May they have
length of days and years over their kingdom.”
Yitzchok Gansburg remembers that at one of the farbrengens,
the Rebbe shouted about the fact that people don’t cry out “ad
masai” enough. Rabbi Gansburg was disturbed by what
the Rebbe said, and he asked the Rebbe, “What does the Rebbe
want of us? We are screaming, crying, and pleading!”
Rebbe responded, “Crying? It’s forbidden to cry on Shabbos.”
After pointing in Rabbi Marlow’s direction, the Rebbe said,
“There is a rav here who will declare that it is
forbidden to cry on Shabbos. Rabbi Marlow was standing very close
to Rabbi Gansburg and he quietly said that it was forbidden to cry
on Shabbos, but the Rebbe wasn’t satisfied. He asked the Rav to
stand in his place and loudly announce that it was forbidden to
cry on Shabbos. Only after the Rav did so did the Rebbe begin a
happy niggun, and the farbrengen continued.
Shneur Zalman Lipsker of Philadelphia relates that back in 5737,
the Rebbe had already told Rabbi Marlow to become a rav mora
horaa. This is how it came about:
year, the N’shei Chabad produced a cookbook and Rabbi Marlow was
the one responsible for the halachic aspects of the book.
After the book was printed, Rabbi Marlow gave the Rebbe a copy of
it at a farbrengen. Rabbi Lipsker, who was standing nearby,
heard the Rebbe say, “Enough already being nechba el
ha’keilim (i.e. humble). The time has come for you to be a mora
horaa to the public!”
Yitzchok Hendel, av beis din and rav of the Chabad
community in Montreal, said that he once heard the Rebbe refer to
Rabbi Marlow as an ish halacha.