R’ Chaim Shalom Deitsch

R’ Chaim Shalom Deitsch is the Rosh Kollel of the Tzemach Tzedek Kollel, which learns every weekday morning from 8 am to 1 pm (another Kollel leans from 2 pm to 5:30 pm under R’ Yoseph Segel).  Rav Deitsch teaches a chasidus shiur every morning from 8 to 9 am, followed by a Shacharit minyan, followed by a short Tanya shiur and then nigleh (Gemorra and poskim).

Born in 1944 to a chasidishe family in Tiberias, R’ Deitsch was not from a Chabad background, though he had exposure to Chabad.  His father, R’ Yoseph Eliyahu Deitsch ztz’l (d. 1984) was a well known askan (public servant) in Jerusalem, where he established kollelim (for example, kollel Sha”ar Hashamayim for kaballists) and provided Shabbat and holiday assistance for the needy. In his early days,  R’ Deitsch learned in Ponevitz yeshiva (the famous Litvish yeshiva in Bnei Brak), where he became known as an ilui (“genius”) and studied as a talmid-chaver (study partner) with the famous rosh yeshiva, R’ Shach (alav hashaom).  As he grew in avodat Hashem, R’ Deitsch sought more spiritual pastures, and graduated toward the yeshiva in Kfar Chabad, where R’ Shlomo Chaim Kesselman (ztz’l) was the mashpia (“spiritual mentor”).  R’ Shach, a vociferous opponent of Chabad, asked R’ Chaim Shalom about his daily routine in Kfar Chabad. Upon hearing R’ Deitchs’s daily routine, R’ Shach gave his approval, with the caveat, “Just do not go to him” (referring to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, R’ Menachem Mendel Schneerson).  Of course, it was not long before Rav Deitsch left Ponevitz and learned in Kfar Chabad, and made his way to the Rebbe as well.

After his marriage, R’ Deitsch sought to study in the kollel of Mossad Harav Kook, at the time a well paying and respected kollel in Jerusalem, and to pursue his studies in learning gemora (Talmud) in depth. For various reasons, his acceptance to the kollel was delayed, and instead he entered the newly formed kollel for dayanut headed by Rav Zalman Nehemia Goldberg shlita.  There, says R’ Deitsch, his studies took a new turn, and instead of learning gemora in depth (b’iyun), he adopted the new approach of R’ Goldberg and began learning shulchan aruch and poskim in depth.  Rav Deitsch learned with Rav Goldberg for several years before accepting an offer (from Kollel Chabad) to become Rosh Kollel of the Tzemach Tzedek in 1972.  In 1973, Rav Deitsch traveled to the Rebbe to ask for the Rebbe’s approval, and in 1974, the Rebbe’s approval and blessing was granted.  Since then, Rav Deitsch applies the approach of learning poskim in depth to the study of the Alter Rebbe’s shulchan aruch, and gives weekly shiurim to the Kollel students as well.

In addition to being one of the world’s leading authorities on the Alter Rebbe’s shulchan aruch, Rav Deitsch is also an excellent teacher of chasidut.  Indeed he spends far more time as a mashpia (“spiritual mentor”) to ba’alei tshuva (returnees to the path of Torah and mitzvoth) and as a teacher of chasidut than he spends teaching shulchan aruch and poskim to the students of the Tzemach Tzedek (who are in any case generally proficient and independent in their studies).  R’ Deitsch also farbrengs (sits and talks) with the chasidim in the Tzemach Tzedek shul on the Chabad chasidic holidays such as yud-tet Kislev and yud-beit Tammuz.  The farbrengens are truly world class and are attended by hundreds of chasidim, both Chabad and not Chabad.  R Deitsch’s shiurim and farbrengens are available for viewing and hearing on the net at www.chasidut.net (in Hebrew and Yiddish).  R’ Deitsch’s children are shluchim and shluchot throughout the world, including in Samara, Russia (R’ Shlomo Deitsch), in Romania (R’ Naftali Deitsch) and in Brazil, among other places.

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