By COLlive reporter
Rabbi Chaim Bienyamini, who served as a Shliach of the Rebbe for 50 years and succeeded in raising a generation of rabbis and Shluchim, passed away on Wednesday, 28 Cheshvan 5782.
He was 99.
Rabbi Binyamini was born on 3 Teves 5683 in Budapest, Hungary to his parents Rabbi Binyomin Zev and Chaya Leah Fisher.
At the age of 14, he was sent to the Yeshiva in the town of Tab, 175 km southwest of Budapest. He learned under the Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Yosef Frankfurter until the outbreak of the Second World War. He then relocated to the Yeshiva in the town of Paks led by Rabbi Shimon Altman.
When that Yeshiva closed, he traveled to Kunszentmiklos where he learned by his uncle Rabbi Yitzchok Tzvi Fanet, who served as the town’s rabbi. He soon received smicha ordination and led the Jewish community in Karcag, a large town in the Northern Great Plain region of central Hungary.
Rabbi Binyamini was exiled to labor camps and survived the horrors of the Holocaust. He eventually arrived in Paris with a group of 100 Jewish youngsters. He sailed to the holy land of Israel on a boat and arrived on 7 Menachem Av 5705.
On 5 Kislev 5710, he married his wife Mrs. Rivka Sheinberg and a couple of years later they were sent by the Jewish Agency for Israel to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s third-most populous state. He led there a wide operation of Jewish activities.
Upon returning to Israel, they settled in the Masu’ot Yitzhak, near Ashkelon in southern Israel. Once, a group of bochurim from the Yeshiva in Kfar Chabad came for a Shabbos.
Enthralled by the Divrei Torah and niggunim, Rabbi Binyamini started participating in the weekly Tanya shiur. In the summer of 5719, he wrote his first of many letters to the Rebbe.
He directed the Yeshiva Ohr Etzoin in 5721 and a few years later was sent again to Brazil by the Jewish Agency. This time, he remained there and eventually become a Shliach of the Rebbe.
Throughout his 50 years serving as a Shliach, he merited to receive caring and detailed guidance from the Rebbe. When he was ridiculed by others, the Rebbe urged him and his wife to continue their mission.
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In 5726, he founded the Machneh Israel Yeshiva in Petropolis, Brazil, which he headed for over three decades. It was the first Yeshiva in Brazil and succeeded in educating and training most of the rabbis serving today in the country.
The Yeshiva was featured in a photographic article in the Portuguese edition of National Geographic in July 2008. Calling it “A School of Tradition,” a mother of a student in the Yeshiva wrote how the institutions shaped his son to become “sociable and compassionate to those around him.”
“In this yeshiva, the Jewish values and inspiration that guide the lives of the teachers, mentors and students are authentic and unchanging. For them, the yeshiva is as integral as the home. This, at least, is what I learned from my son,” she wrote.
In recent years, he lived in the central Israeli village of Kfar Chabad.
He is survived by his children Rabbi Avraham David Binyamini – Petropolis, Brazil; Mrs. Rochel Lerer – Kfar Chabad, Israel (wife of Rabbi Menachem Lerer, Director of the Central Yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim in Israel); Mrs. Sara Feigelstock – Buenos Aires, Argentina (wife of the Shliach and posek Rabbi Yosef Feigelstock); grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Baruch Dayan Haemes.