The following is the text of a hesped by Rabbi Michael Hecht, former Head of School and longtime Rebbi at YUHSB, given at the levaya of Rabbi Borenstein. Rabbi Hecht knew Rabbi Borenstein as a student, friend, and colleague for more than 50 years.

I knew Rav Shmuel ben Rav Noach for more than 50 years, from the old days in the Bronx and from when he was a bochur in our yeshiva high school. For more than four decades we were colleagues and rabbinic faculty at yeshiva university. During the last two decades, we spent countless hours together carpooling from Kew Garden Hills to Washington Heights. We would spend time together talking about learning, talking about his children- several of his sons were my talmidim-, and mili de-alma. But with R’ Shmuel, there was never a word of lashon hara. It was impossible to hear a word of lashon hara from him. I was relatively close with his father R’ Noach, a rosh yeshiva at our yeshiva, who was a tremendous lamdan and a talmid of the Brisker Rov. He was known throughout Europe as an ilui. The Rav had extraordinary respect for him.

Once when Shmuel was still a bochur in the high school, his father came to me and asked “What will be with my Shmuel? He plays so much basketball?” The truth is that he was a very good basketball player. I answered “he will grow up to be an outstanding talmid chacham and an outstanding human being.” I was not megazeh believe me. Ve-kach havi. He developed into a real and outstanding talmid chacham and he became a big masmid. More importantly, he was an outstanding human being. He was blessed with a very good head, he had good genes as you have heard.
R’ Shmuel was also an excellent teacher; he had enormous patience for his students and they in turn loved and respected him. They realized what a very special human being he was.

There is an old tradition in yahadut of tzaddikim nistarim, called lamed-vovniks. 36 righteous Jews in every generation. It is traced back to a gemara in sanhedrin and in sukkah– In every generation there are at least 36 tzaddikim who greet the shechina. The kabbalists, several generations later in the 16th century, developed this idea that the world’s existence depends on the lamed-vovniks. Suffering of these 36 human beings quietly and never complaining, whose yissurin serve as a capparah for the rest of the world.

R’ Shmuel did not have an easy life. As a youngster he had serious health issues, the terrible fire he barely escaped from where his sons had to carry him down the stairs and the permanent lung damage it caused. When we drove together I couldn’t immediately park in the parking lot because he couldn’t walk the half a block in the end. We had to do serious hakafot around the school. Additionally, of course the various health issues of his beloved wife Malka these last few years- what a beautiful relationship they had.

Yet, throughout all those years and all the time we spent together I never once heard from him a complaint. He accepted the tzarot and suffering with equanimity as the ratzon of HKBH, as a lamed-vovnik would.
May he be a melitz yosher for his wonderful children. I once said to him that I am jealous of him because I have never seen children as dedicated or wonderful, who are mekayem kibbud av va-em in the manner that they do. What I would never think of asking my children they would jump to do for him. It was extraordinary. And of course, his beautiful marriage with Malka, her dedication to Shmuel and his towards her was something special.

May he be a melitz yosher for his entire family, our shul, and community as well for the entirety of klal yisrael.

תהא נפשו צרורה בצרור החיים

 

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