One year ago today, we were all saddened by the loss of our dear rebbe, Rabbi Chaim Flom, Rosh yeshiva and co-founder of Yeshivat Ohr David.
Although I was not in yeshiva when he passed, nor is today the actual hebrew date of his death (14 Iyyar – which was May 8, 2009), I’m still compelled to write something about a truly wonderful man.
I can still a year ago today, it was on an NCSY shabbaton in Erie, Pennsylvania. Back then, I got email notifications through my cell phone and I was receiving a rare, yet excessive amount of notifications from Ohr David. The thought sort of occurred to me, since the word had been spread that his cancer was getting worse. But I didn’t think much of it. However the next thing I knew was that I had a missed call from Dave, my roommate in yeshiva. Then finally, at 9:54 am on Monday May 19, Dave had sent me a text message notifying me of his death. I nearly dropped my phone after such shock, letting out a loud WHAT! What felt worse was having to tell my friend and fellow Ohr David classmate Michael, whom Rabbi Flom was very close with that he had passed on.
Here is the eulogy I wrote last year. Reading it helped remind me of the great things he had from my own perspective and as well as to remember the things I need to do emulate the great person Rabbi Flom was.
Rabbi Chaim Moshe Flom, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Ohr David, passed away this past Sunday morning. Along with Rabbi Yosef Granofsky, they founded Ohr David in 1980 and remained its spiritual leaders throughout its 27 years of existence.
Rabbi Flom was a tremendous teacher and student of Torah study. He impacted the lives of all those he came in contact with. A Baal Chesed, he gave his life to improving and enhancing those of others. He will be sadly missed, yet happily remembered by many.
Of the may lives he impacted, I was fortunate enough to be one of them. During my time in Yeshivas Ohr David (2005-2006, briefly in 2007), the ability to interact with him on a daily basis was great blessing I was fortunate to receive. He definitely bought a positive light to my time in yeshiva, and helped me appreciate Torah study and Judaism so much more.
Though I wasn’t a talmid of his (at least not in his night seder shiur), the times I spent learning with him were indeed special. I speak particularly of the parsha shiur he would once every week (usually on wednesday during mussar time). I always found it quite amazing how he was able to take a small piece of torah, such as a passuk, and turn it in to a hour long discussion of its impacts and teachings. He would locate and study several other sources of torah in relation to the small piece (which he graciously took the time to include on piece of paper or two, and photocopy for everyone), and from there we would begin our discussions. And how can I not forget the “My Rebbe is Proud of Me” sticker or piece of candy he gave out whenever someone actively participated during his shiur?
One of my favourite memories of Rabbi Flom during my year, was the ruach and energy he brought whenever he davened for the amud at yeshiva. I speak particularly of High Holiday services during Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur, when he would take to the bima and let it all out. There he would sing the nigunim and songs that we would all come to acknowledge as the “Rabbi Flom songs”. And as he sang them, he would joyously dance in his place. Without moving his feet, his upper body seemed to bounce up and down in coordination to beat of the music. We all enjoyed this, and he knew it. Therefore he never shied away from expressing his joy in this particular because it made other people happy.
However, I must admit that during my year in Ohr David, I didn’t take full advantage of his presence. Conversely, this brings me to when I decided to return to Ohr David for six weeks the next year from Lag b’Omer until the end of the zman. Along with the other shana bet students, we were able to get a much more intimate interaction with Rabbi Flom when it came time to learn with him. I fondly recall our last shiur, where he we enegaged in a detailed examination of the shabbos zemiros (shalom aleichem, Ka Ribon, Tzur Meshlo and others..) and meaning behind their inclusion during shabbos. I never really took much wonder as to what significance lied within those prayers, and took them for granted as part of the services on shabbos. Thanks to Rabbi Flom, I gained a much greater appreciation for shabbos, and found a piece of torah that I was confident enough to share with others as well.
So much more can be said about such a great human being. May his Neshama find peace in Olam Habah.