Living Legacy: Rav Moshe Yehoshua Heschel Orenstein ABD Rohotin

Living Legacy: Rav Moshe Yehoshua Heschel Orenstein ABD Rohotin

by  Yehuda Alter

The 11th of Adar marks the yohrtzeit of Rav Moshe Yehoshua Heschel, the son or Rav Mordechai Zev Orenstein who was the rov of Lvov. The family traced their lineage to generations of Rabbonim in Poland. He was the author of the monumental “Yam Hatalmud,” and was the older brother of Rav Yaakov Meshulam Orenstein of Lvov, author of Yeshu’os Yaakov.

Rav Moshe Yehoshua Heschel was a tremendous ga’on, a deeply erudite mind, and a master of the hidden and revealed Torah. From a very young age, he was known for his ga’onus. Ga’onim and tzaddikim of his generation greatly appreciated him and showed him great respect.

As a boy, he learned under his illustrious father, but sadly, when he reached bar mitzvah, his father passed away (his mother had left this world a number of years prior to that when he was a young boy). This was when Rav Moshe Yehoshua Heschel and his younger brother went to Brod to learn under Rav Tzvi Hirsch Bushko, author of Tiferes Tzvi. 

In Brod, he also found his zivug, marrying the daughter of a wealthy and learned Yid from the city. After his wedding, he was appointed as an Av Beis Din and Rosh Yeshiva in Brod, and delivered shiurim for the bachurim who went on to become ge’onim b’Torah. He learned b’chavrusa with his brother-in-law, Rav Moshe Mintz, and he formed a close relationship with Rav Ephraim Zalman Margolies, author of Mateh Ephraim of Brod.

When he was only eighteen years of age, he was appointed as the Rov of Radvil in the Wohlin region, and he was accorded great respect there. Great ga’onim from throughout the region sent him their she’eilos, and he issued many teshuvos. Despite his youth, he earned great respect from many of them.

He also maintained a kesher with his illustrious rebbi (Brod was not very far from Radvil), and they would write to each other in Torah matters in letters back and forth.

In 1808, he became the Rov of Tarnogrod, where he was accorded great respect and is cited with great respect by other gedolim in their writings. In Tarnogrod, he established a yeshiva that became one of the largest and most prominent in Poland. Among the illustrious talmidim who emerged from the yeshiva in Tarnogrod were the Chidushei Harim of Gur and the Divrei Chaim of Sanz. He wrote many chiddushei Torah, many of which remained unpublished.

He eventually moved to Rohotin, Galicia, where he remained until his passing. Rav Moshe Yehoshua Heschel was only 50 years old when he was niftar, and he was laid to rest in Rohotin.

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