Living Legacy: Rav Yehoshua Deutch, Katamoner Ruv

Living Legacy: Rav Yehoshua Deutch, Katamoner Ruv

Yehuda Alter

The fourth of Tammuz marks the yahrtzeit of the Ruv of the Katamon neighborhood of Yerushalayim, a ga’on in Torah and a great yerei Shomayim who was extremely close to Rav Aharon of Belz, and was the only one to eulogize the Belzer ruv at his Levaya.

Rav Deutch was born in Makava, Hungary, on 18 Shevat during the year 1910. His father was Rav Chaim Yehuda, the dayan of the town and author of Ahavas Chaim, Kol Yehuda, and other seforim. His mother was the daughter of Rav Avrohom Yekusiel Schwartz, a ruv in Chust.

He learned under the leading Rabbonim of Hungary, including in Ujhel, and Chust, under Rav Yisroel Moshe Dushinsky, and in Krula, under the Divrei Yoel, who was later of Satmar. He became drawn to Chassidus, and journeyed to Rav Ahrele of Belz, to Rav Yeshayale of Kerestir, and others.

His brilliance in Torah shone forth during his youth, and he began to exchange letters in Torah with gedolim of the time at a young age.

Rav Yehoshua spent the war years on the run and spent a few weeks in a Hungarian prison. Following the war, he became preoccupied with assisting the refugees—spiritually and materially— and gave up his apartment to the Imrei Chaim of Viznitz.

As soon as they were able, the Deutch family went up to Eretz Yisroel. The Rabbonim of Yerushalayim immediately recognized and appreciated the caliber of the young ga’on who had joined them and accepted him joyfully into their ranks.

He was appointed by Rav Zelig Reuven Bengis, Ruv of Yerushalayim, as the ruv of the Katamon neighborhood of Yerushalayim, and Rav Ahrele of Belz also endorsed this appointment, in addition to appointing him as head of the fledgling Belzer yeshiva.

An incredible talmid chochom and masmid, he spent his days and nights learning—always immersed in the words of the Rishonim, acharonim, and poskim, and his love for Torah was without limit. He never began davening without spending time learning before that, as a preparation.

Despite his elevated life, which was so focused on Torah and avodah, Rav Deutch could speak to anyone, and indeed, he was invited to speak to an extremely vast array of crowds. To everyone, he knew exactly what to say and how to speak—because he spoke from the heart. Sometimes, his family would try to dissuade him from going to certain places to speak. But he would explain that if people could benefit from hearing him, it is his obligation to go to them. The Katamoner Ruv was also a tremendous ba’al chessed and ba’al tzedakah, all of it in a hidden manner.

Although he was extremely wise, he nevertheless nullified himself completely before the tzaddikim of his generation, including the Belzer Ruv, the Klausenberger Ruv, and a number of others from that generation.

Days before his passing, when he was already extremely weak, he was shown his newly-printed sefer Beis Halachmi—something that brought him great joy. He was niftar days later, on 4 Tammuz, 1990, leaving behind generations of descendants who follow in the ways of their great ancestor.   

(In a photo featured here, we see the Katamoner Ruv looking on as Rav Ahrele of Belz pours the cornerstone for the Belzer Yeshiva).

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