By COLlive reporter
Rabbi Dovid Schochet, President of the Toronto Rabbinical Council and a member of Vaad Rabbonei Lubavitch, who was renowned for his genius Torah knowledge and his great depth in Torah learning, passed away on Sunday night, 19 Shevat 5784.
He was 91.
He was born and raised in Basel, Switzerland in 1932. When he was fifteen, his family moved to the Netherlands, where his father Rabbi Dov Yehuda Schochet became the Chief Rabbi of the Hague and opened a yeshivah for Hungarian Jewish refugees from the Second World War.
Five years later, he traveled to New York to enroll in the Central Yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim Lubavitch in Crown Heights. “I chose a Lubavitch yeshiva at the urging of my uncle, Rabbi Chaim Mordechai Aizik Hodakov, who was then secretary to the Lubavitcher Rebbe,” he said in an interview with JEM.
“But what really convinced me was the pride in being Jewish that the Lubavitch chassidim exhibited,” he said. “In Europe, many observant Jews tried to blend in – for which you couldn’t blame them, considering the degree of anti-Semitism that existed. They would cover their heads, although not with a yarmulke which would make them stand out; they’d wear a cap or a hat that looked like every other person’s headgear. But Lubavitcher chassidim openly wore yarmulkes and even went on the streets with the strings of their tzitzit hanging out. That impressed me very much.”
In 1952, when he enrolled in the Lubavitcher yeshiva, he had his first Yechidus audience with the Rebbe. “Don’t take life for granted,” the Rebbe told him. “In the morning, when you wake up, thank G-d for everything that has been given to you.”
The Rebbe went on to say that many people go to sleep at night and expect their shoes to be by their bed where they left them the night before when they wake up in the morning. As they get dressed, they complain that the weather is too cold or hot. “In effect, they are criticizing G-d,” the Rebbe said, “because who makes the weather? Instead, they should be grateful that they are still alive, that their possessions are still with them, that a new day is beginning where they have an opportunity to do many good deeds.”
The Rebbe also advised him to go into Jewish education in that first audience. He recalled, “I had been planning to enroll in university after finishing my yeshivah studies, with the intent of becoming an electrical engineer, but the Rebbe said that I would find working in Jewish outreach much more rewarding because, as he put it, every Jew is a diamond.”
Rabbi Schochet followed this advice and, in 1957, he was appointed the Rebbe’s Shliach to Toronto and has remained there ever since. He has been teaching in Chabad’s educational intuitions and was later appointed Rov of the Chabad community.
Before that, he was a member of the delegation of Shluchim, who comforted the residents of the village of Kfar Chabad on behalf of the Rebbe.
Locals were reeling from a terror attack in 1956 that killed a teacher and 5 students. Rabbi Schochet traveled around the Holy Land of Israel.
In 1957, he got married to Batsheva Sudak and merited that the Rebbe was the mesader kidushin. The Rebbe also mentioned him during the Shabbos farbrengens before and after the wedding.
In Toronto, Rabbi Schochet’s reach extended well beyond the community, heading the local Agudas Harabonim and being involved in Chabad’s rabbinical council of North America.
One notable episode in Rabbi Schochet’s life underscores the far-reaching impact of the Rebbe’s wisdom. He was invited to speak to a predominantly non-Jewish audience in Buffalo, and the Rebbe instructed him what to speak about matters of charity – which profoundly impacted a young priest in the audience.
He is survived by his wife Rebbetzin Batsheva Schochet, their children Rabbi Yossi Schochet, Toronto, ON; Mrs. Batya Lisker, Miami, FL; Mrs. Rochie Diena, Toronto, ON; Mrs. Chana Weisberg, Pomona, NY; grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
He is survived by his siblings Mrs. Ruth Averbuch of Crown Heights, Mrs. Batya Wagner of Toronto, Mrs. Amina Newman of Long Beach CA, Mr. Joseph Daniel Schochet of Toronto, Rabbi Elisha Shochet of Toronto, Rabbi Ovadia Schochet in Miami and Rabbi Ezra Schochet in Los Angeles.
The levaya will be held on Monday, 12:30 PM at Chabad Lubavitch – 770 Chabad Gate in Thornhill.
To share stories, photos and nichum aveilim, visit sharetoremember.com/harav-dovid-schochet
Baruch Dayan Ha’emes.