Living Legacy: Rebbe Pinchos Sholom of Kosson
The 24th of Tammuz marks the yahrtzeit of the Kossoner Rebbe, a Scion of great Chassidic dynasties who came to America in the 1920’s and stood athwart the winds of assimilation with astounding strength, meriting to establish beautiful generations who continue his legacy until this day.
Rav Pinchos Sholom was born in 1884 in the town of Barsha. His father was Rav Moshe Shmuel Rottenberg, the son of Rebbe Yehosef, author of the sefer Bnei Shileishim and known by that title.
Having been born during parshas Pinchos, he was named Pinchos and Sholom for the first pasuk in the parsha.
From the earliest age, his kedusha and his striving for higher were evident in the young boy. At the age of five, he was already stationed behind the chair of his saintly grandfather, the Bnei Shileishim—even during tischen that took long hours.
His grandfather in turn showed the child special attention and love, placing him at a distinguished place at the tisch, saying, “He is a true Chossid.”
His learning was with incredible diligence, and it is said that at the age of twelve, he knew the entire maseches Chulin by heart, with Tosafos. He went to learn in the yeshiva of Rav Yosef Nechemia Kornitzer in Selish, and he would send home letters filled with deep Divrei Torah.
When his bar mitzvah arrived, his grandfather gifted him with his precious Sidur ho’Ari. As much as he appreciated the priceless gift and would have loved to keep it, the young boy gave it back, saying, “I don’t want my cousins to be jealous.” The Bnei Shileshim greatly lauded the sensitivity and midos of his young grandson.
He married Rebbetzin Sarah Chanah, the daughter of Rav Naftoli Ehrlich, the rov of Delyatin, and settled in the town. He would travel around to the tzaddikim of the generation, including the Belzer Rov, Rebbe Yisochor Dov.
During World War I, many of the Yidden of Delyatin escaped, and the Rottenbergs exiled to Kleinwardein, Hungary, where his father had established a beis medrash. Throughout this time of upheaval, he continued learning with great diligence.
Around 1920, as World War I was winding down—leaving behind poverty and hunger in its wake—the Rebbe journeyed to America. He soon sent for his wife and children, but the Rebbetzin was terrified of the “treifene America,” and did not want to go. She went to the Belzer Rov, who told her, “I know your husband. He is an ehrlicher yungerman… go, and you will have ehrliche children.”
After a while on the Lower East Side, they moved to the Bronx, where the Rebbe opened a beis medrash which served as a center of warmth and inspiration to countless people of the Bronx of yore. Seeing the plight of the youth who were going uneducated, the Rebbe opened a Yeshiva Ahavas Torah. Students later attested that not a single child emerged from there who did not follow the ways of the Torah. The yeshiva later merged with Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim.
Following the war, the Rebbe opened his doors to refugees, and countless stories abound of the way the Rebbe and his family assisted Yidden of those difficult times, both spiritually as well as materially.
The Rebbe was niftar on 24 Tammuz of the year 1966, leaving behind an incredibly rich legacy that endures and continues to shine bright to this day.