B"H. Beis Moshiach Magazine is powered by:




“Abir SheBeAbirimPart 2
(Click here for Part 1)
Rabbi Yehuda Kalman Marlow, a’h, Mara D’Asra and member of the Crown Heights Beis Din * 10 Adar I 5692 (1932) - 20 Sivan 5760.


Even after his appointment as rav, Rabbi Marlow was careful not to use that position for his personal benefit. Residents of the community would offer him a ride, but if the person didn’t live nearby and would have to make a special trip to the Rav’s home, the Rav would politely decline the offer, saying that he preferred to walk.

Rabbi Yekusiel Rapp, who lived in the same building as the Rav, relates that when they would both approach the building, the Rav would try to take his key out first so that it wouldn’t look as though he was using somebody to open the door for him. Rabbi Marlow always paid for his building’s communal succa early and was careful to pay a bit more just to make sure...

Rabbi Rapp was once standing in the bank when he saw the Rav enter and stand in line. Only one teller was available, and the long line crawled along. Rabbi Rapp told one of the managers that the Rav of the community was there and it wasn’t right that he stand in line with everyone else. The woman agreed and asked him to call Rabbi Marlow to her office.

When Rabbi Rapp went over to Rabbi Marlow and informed him that he could bypass the line, the Rav refused, saying it wouldn’t be a kiddush Hashem. Rabbi Rapp went back to the manager and told her that the Rav was humble and refused to leave the line. She remarked, “That’s why he’s the chief rabbi!”

Rabbi Marlow’s son-in-law, Rabbi Schechter, says that in the Rav’s final two months, he had to use a private mikva to make immersing easier for him. But the Rav was very careful not to take advantage of the mikva’s owner. When he arrived at this mikva once with his grandson, he made sure his grandson went to immerse in the communal mikva instead.

Rabbi Marlow’s son, R’ Yosef Yitzchok, who serves as rav in a Lubavitch shul in Miami, relates that there was once a great controversy in his shul. Throughout that time, his father refused to go and visit his shul, explaining that doing so might be construed as an attempt to influence people to side with his son.


After his appointment as mara d’asra and member of the beis din, a vaad ha’kashrus was established. The Rav would travel to various factories in order to check the kashrus of the products produced there. R’ Yossi Brook accompanied the Rav on these trips.

Before every trip, the Rav would prepare a briefcase of s’farim he would study while traveling. Peering into his s’farim, he was utterly absorbed in study. The long trips gave R’ Brook a wonderful opportunity to see how the Rav conducted himself. For example, he realized that every time they traveled at night, as soon as the sun rose the Rav requested to stop, and he put on tefillin and said K’rias Sh’ma.

Despite R’ Brook’s proximity, the Rav still managed to be discreet; it was only with great difficulty that R’ Yossi managed to discover a bit of the Rav’s ways. The Rav was particular not to drink water that had been in a metal container, even under circumstances when all the poskim say there is no problem in doing so. The amazing thing was that the Rav was able to hide this for over two years, even though they spent hours together nearly every day.

“The Rav never told me that he doesn’t drink water from a can. He would simply say he wasn’t thirsty. It took me two years to figure it out. I noticed that every time I bought a can the Rav wasn’t thirsty, but when I bought a bottle the Rav willingly drank. Once I realized this, I made sure to bring along bottles of drinks for the Rav.”

The Rav had a shiur in Shulchan Aruch with some baalei battim. R’ Brook said that the Rav always asked him to make sure they would return from their trips in time for his Wednesday class. Rabbi Meir Eichler, one of the participants of the shiur, related that the Rav’s devotion to the class inspired the other participants to feel a sense of responsibility to come to the class on time.

“When I married off my son Shemarya,” said R’ Brook, “I asked the Rav to come to the wedding, which took place in France. The Rav declined, afraid I would honor him with siddur kiddushin without the full consent of Rabbi Hillel Pevsner, the mara d’asra of the Lubavitch community in Paris. Although I promised him I wouldn’t do anything without Rabbi Pevsner’s explicit permission, the Rav was worried that Rabbi Pevsner would not give his wholehearted consent, so he did not come to the wedding.

“When I married off my daughter, at first the wedding was supposed to take place in Kfar Chabad, and once again the Rav absolutely refused to come to the wedding. Only after the wedding was scheduled to take place in the manufacturing district in Azor did the Rav agree to come. He came to Eretz Yisroel for one day to participate in the wedding.”

On the flight to that wedding, the Rav didn’t eat anything that was served. He only ate what he had brought from home – salty fish. Rabbi Meir Eichler, who accompanied the Rav on the flight, went to the kitchen to bring the Rav a cup of water, but to his surprise, the Rav did not touch it. He was certain the Rav was thirsty after eating the fish and he wanted to find out why the Rav wouldn’t drink the water. He realized that the cup he had brought was made of glass. Only after he replaced the glass with a plastic cup did the Rav take a drink.

They landed in Eretz Yisroel in the afternoon. The Rav wished to go to a mikva so that a day wouldn’t pass without immersing. After much effort they found an open mikva in Bnei Brak, and only then was the Rav at ease.

The Rav spent a total of 30 hours in Eretz Yisroel. When they suggested that he visit Yerushalayim, he politely refused. Only after he asked R’ Yossi whether you could see the hills of Yerushalayim from Azor, explaining that he didn’t want to get into a halachic problem about where you have to tear k’ria for the churban Yerushalayim, did R’ Yossi understand why the Rav had avoided going to Yerushalayim.

The Rav was particular not to eat food prepared outside his house. He went so far as not to drink a cup of coffee anywhere else, and he always took a thermos with him on trips. Once, when he was in a factory of G-d-fearing Jews, the owner asked him why he didn’t drink coffee from the machine in the office. The Rav said he would be willing to drink from it if Jews were the only ones who used the machine.


The Rav was a great baal tzedaka, and he did it all secretly. R’ Yossi Brook relates that once when they were organizing the Rav’s office, he noticed dozens of checks given to the Rav that had never been cashed. When the Rav received a check for being mesader kiddushin for a financially strapped family, the Rav would put the check aside. He did the same thing with checks sent to him for Pesach or the like. He never cashed these checks. When cash was pushed into his hands, the Rav quickly gave the money to charitable causes. Generally speaking, the Rav didn’t care much about his personal finances. In his office there were checks that had never been cashed simply because the Rav couldn’t be bothered.

The Rav tried to hide his acts of charity from people, and only occasionally would those close to him notice anything unusual. When he was in the hospital, a resident of the community called and told Rabbi Marlow’s daughter about a great kindness that Rabbi Marlow did for her a few years earlier.

Her son did not get along with the boys in the local yeshiva and she wanted to send him to Eretz Yisroel to learn, but she didn’t have enough money for the ticket. In desperation, the woman asked the Rav for advice. The Rav told her to order a ticket and he would take care of the cost. And that’s just what happened – the Rav paid for the ticket out of his personal funds, and the woman’s son learned in a yeshiva where he was successful.

In more recent weeks, when the Rav couldn’t personally distribute tzedaka, he would sit in bed and tell his daughter to write large checks for various causes. The Rav would give away nearly his entire salary. One of the gabbai ha’tzedaka in Crown Heights said that when he came to ask for tzedaka, the Rav would give him money as though he owed it to him.

The Rav did tzedaka with more than money. Someone once came to his office and told the Rav that his daughter was in the hospital in critical condition and the doctors wanted to take her off life support. He had tried unsuccessfully to dispute the doctors, and as a last resort he was asking the Rav if he could use his connections. The Rav calmed him down and told him that everything would be taken care of. This was on Hoshana Rabba at 9:00 a.m. That day, the Rav made telephone calls until 3:00 p.m. and only then was he able to ensure that the girl would not be removed from the machines. Then he finally left his office and went to 770 to daven Shacharis.

One of the Rav’s mashgichim for the milking of cows once felt heart pains in the middle of a milking and was taken to the hospital. Another mashgiach happened to show up after the first had left. When he heard what had happened, he called Rabbi Marlow and asked him what to do with the milk. The Rav told him that as far as the hechsher of the rabbanim, the milk was no good, since there hadn’t been a mashgiach constantly supervising it.

At the end of the milking, the mashgiach rushed to the hospital to visit his colleague. When he arrived at his room he saw his colleague talking on the telephone. After a quarter of an hour, when he finished the conversation, the mashgiach told him that he had been talking to Rabbi Marlow who had called to ask how he was doing. It seems that after hearing that the mashgiach had been hospitalized, Rabbi Marlow called all the hospitals in the area and asked whether a patient by that name had been admitted. When the Rav finally managed to locate him, he spoke with him on the telephone for quite some time in order to calm him.


After Tishrei of this year, the Rav felt unusually tired. At first he thought it was accumulated exhaustion, but after a few weeks, he realized it was far more serious. He was examined by doctors, who discovered a malignant growth near his brain. An operation was immediately scheduled.

The operation took place on 7 Kislev, and the Rav’s preparations included photocopying hilchos Chanuka from the Shulchan Aruch. The night before the operation, the Rav was hospitalized. He spent the night learning the Taz on hilchos Chanuka in depth. He was so immersed in his learning that he didn’t notice his son-in-law, Rabbi Schechter, coming in and out every half-hour.

Before the operation, the Rav asked his son to remind him to daven Maariv after the operation. Due to the tension and concern for his father, his son forgot his father’s request. At 4:00 a.m.. when he entered his father’s room, his father asked him, “You came to remind me about davening Maariv? It’s all right, I davened already.”

“Think about it,” says his son emotionally. “My father underwent a serious operation on his head, in the course of which they opened up his skull. We’re talking about severe pain, from which a normal person would take days to recover, yet he managed to remember that he had to daven Maariv!”

The Rav was truly amazing. Even in his final days, when he found it hard to read, he made sure to complete the daily shiurim of Chitas and Rambam – shiurim which he never missed for even a day since the takana was established.

After the first operation, when he returned to the hospital, the Rav wrote a letter to the Rebbe, which he put in the Igros Kodesh. In his letter, the Rav asked for a bracha that he should not become a burden to his family during his illness. What bothered him, when his life hung in the balance, was that he shouldn’t be a burden to others!

Rabbi Marlow’s strong faith in the Rebbe MH”M expressed itself even during his illness when the doctors confined him to his bed. On the first Shabbos after the operation, ten bachurim from Yeshivas Tomchei Tmimim - 770 came to daven Kabbalas Shabbos with him in the hospital. Before they began, the family asked them to daven fast because of the Rav’s condition. At the end of “Lecha Dodi,” the Rav motioned to them to dance “Yechi” as customary. When the Rav noticed their hesitation, he got up from his chair and began dancing and singing “Yechi” himself. The dancing went on for ten minutes, and the Rav returned to bed exhausted. The effort was so great that after davening he could not make Kiddush and he had to rest for two hours. It was actual mesirus nefesh in order to dance to “Yechi.” After he got up he told his family, “It was a special davening,” and then made Kiddush.

In the final months of his illness, there was noticeable concern in all Lubavitch communities, particularly in Crown Heights. Tefillos were added on behalf of the Rav, and people learned hilchos Shabbos as a z’chus for the Rav (as suggested by Rabbi Osdoba).

On the last Tuesday of his life, as he spoke with his son on the telephone, he began the conversation by saying, “A gutten erev Shabbos.”




The Rav wrote a letter to the Rebbe, which he put in the Igros Kodesh. In his letter, the Rav asked for a bracha that he should not become a burden to his family.


Home | Contents | Archives | Contact Us | Subscriptions | Submissions | Interactive | Chat | Advertise

©Copyright. No content may be reprinted without permission.