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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Reb Dovid Winiarz, zt”l, a”h

L’zecher nishmas Reb Dovid Avraham ben Chia Kehas Winiarz, a”h

Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa had once said, “Kol she’ruach habrios noche hemenu, ruach haMakom noche hemenu—One who is pleasing to his fellow men is pleasing to Hashem.” (Pirkei Avos, 2:9.) Several hundred people, including numerous rabbanim, attended the levaya of Dovid Winiarz, a”h, on January 19, 2015, at the Young Israel of Staten Island. With nearly every seat occupied and with all the aisles filled to capacity, it is evident that Dovid was not only treasured by the countless lives he inspired, he was loved by Hashem.

Mrs. Subar, the mother of the niftar, said that the happiest day of her life occurred on January 2, 1966, when Dovid was born. “Hakadosh Baruch Hu gave us a gift for 49 years and He wanted His gift back.” “I don’t blame him. You think a short life? No. He filled into these 49 years many lifetimes. That is the gift this neshama left us. Let’s not waste it.” Her son, she continued, was still “alive” and will continue to live, as she expressed her sincere hope that the family and klal Yisrael will, with the help of Hashem, continue his holy efforts. Indeed, our neshama is a gift from Hashem. We reaffirm this belief each morning in Shacharis, “Elokai, neshama: My God, the soul You placed within me is pure. You created it, You fashioned it, You breathed it into me, You safeguard it within me, and eventually You will take it from me, and restore it to me in the time to come.”

Some of Dovid’s many accomplishments included running Ezras Achim, Willowbrook’s Bikur Cholim society; maintaining a food pantry that helped approximately 100 needy families; and an organization he founded called “Survival through Education,” aimed at making Torah knowledge easily available to those living outside of religious communities.

Perhaps his most significant accomplishment was Jewish outreach, primarily at the College of Staten Island and his contribution to Facebook as the “Facebook Rebbe.” Under the guidance of his revered rebbe, Rav Reuven Feinstein, shlita, his popularity soared as he “friended” thousands of Jews across the spectrum of the Jewish Diaspora.

Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss provided an example of how Dovid inspired tens of thousands of people. Early one morning, unable to return to sleep, Dovid logged into his Facebook account and found that an unaffiliated Swiss Air Force pilot sent him a comment. He asked the pilot if he can “someday visit and fly his plane.” The pilot replied in the affirmative but gave the following advice: “One must first spend time learning all the intricacies of flight before handling such a complicated aircraft.” Dovid replied, “Same is true for Judaism; you have to learn all its intricacies in order to practice the religion properly.” The pilot spent two years learning in Ohr Sameach and is now a baal teshuva.

The Torah states (Bereishis 1:31): “Vayar Elokim es kol asher asah, v’hinei tov meod—And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” Everything, including modern technology is “good”; Reb Dovid understood that it is man’s responsibility to use Hashem’s creations for good and for positive purposes, not to, Heaven forbid, misuse the good to advance one’s evil intentions and desires. Chazal tell us that Torah is acquired with 48 qualities (Pirkei Avos), a subtle reference to Dovid’s rich yet short-lived life. The name Dovid denotes strength of character, resolve, one filled with conviction. Avraham denotes the paradigm of kindness. The gematria of Dovid (14) is equal to yad, and the gematria of Avraham (248) is equal to the ramach aivarim, the 248 (meta) physical bones. Meaning, Dovid fully immersed his entire “hand” by giving all of his being into the performance of Torah and mitzvos. Reb Dovid never considered the chisronos, or lacking attributes, of his fellow Jew. Rather, he only saw the ma’alos, the wonderful inherent qualities, of the pintele Yid and the great potential of every single Jew.

Dovid Winiarz, a”h, was a holy Jew. Let us follow his lead, and in our own unique way build a better world than the one we inherited.

Yehi zichro baruch.

Shortly after R’ Winiarz’s passing, something was done. It was difficult for all to go forward, but the Jewish way is to move forward. It’s why an avel (mourner) walks around the block. It’s what Hashem wanted and we know it’s what R’ Winiarz wanted as well. A shiur line was already in place, but shortly after R’ Winiarz’s passing it was greatly expanded. The shiur line was inspired by and rededicated to the memory of Dovid Winiarz. Jake Weiman became the chief administrator of the line, dedicating countless hours to the maintenance of the shiur. Ever since then, there have been many more people listening to the shiur. Throughout this time we have greatly enjoyed the shiurim of R’ Mordechai Plotsker. The organization “Shiur Enjoyment” would continue to expand, though, to other shiurim that were associated with Shiur Enjoyment. Highly esteemed maggidei shiur would join the team, including R’ Moshe Meir Weiss, R’ Jonathan Gewirtz, R’ Yom Tov Glaser, and many others. Thanks to Jake Weiman and his partner Aryeh Pearlman, Shiur Enjoyment utilized services associated with Shiur Enjoyment including recorded shiurim on the website, text reminders, dedication opportunities and other services. We hope you join us in the participation of shiur enjoyment and ensure that Shiur Enjoyment continues.

By Rabbi 

Mordechai Plotsker