Monsey Memories: Rav Hershel Mashinsky, zt”l, upon his 18th Yohrtzeit
One of the most legendary figures in the Monsey community, and a pillar of so many of its institutions who was there since the 1940’s—Reb Hershel Mashinsky’s name is synonymous with old Monsey, and building Monsey. His 18th yohrtzeit was marked this Shabbos, 20 Shevat.
He was born in New York in the year 1925. The home of his parents—from a long line of Chernobyler chassidim—was permeated with the spirit if mesiras nefesh for Shabbos. He learned under the legends of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath, such as Rav Shlomo Heiman and Rav Reuven Grozovsky. He became an ardent talmid of the great Torah builder, Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, zt”l, who imbued in him a fiery spirit for building Yiddishkeit, which he would go to embody in his own right.
As we noted in our previous installment of “Monsey Memories,” Rav Shraga Feivel opened Aish Dos in Monsey. Hershel joined that elite group who would go on to become Mechanchim and disseminators of Torah to the future generations of American children.
When the Klausenberger Rebbe arrived in America following the war, he became tethered to him with heart and soul—a fervent connection that lasted until the Rebbe’s passing.
He married the daughter of Reb Menachem Moshe Felsenburg, a legendary askan from the Viener and Nitra kehillos.
He began his chinuch career in Yeshiva of Spring Valley in 1947—a golden tenure that would last for more than half a century. Each and every one of his thousands of talmidim over the decades absorbed the fire and the love that he imbued in them.
Once, a prospective rebbi was being interviewed by a potential menahel. The menahel asked him “what is the key to chinuch.” The Rebbi answered, “I once heard from Rav Hershel Mashinsky that the most important thing is to love the talmidim.” “But what about those really difficult talmidim?” the menahel persisted. “Those talmidim,” the rebbi said, quoting Rabbi Mashinsky, “need even more love!”
This was the chinuch philosophy with which he shaped generations of Monsey children.
But the talmidim were also influenced by his incredible greatness, his elevation, his unique caliber of avodah.
His avodas hatefillah was legendary. His primary makom for tefillah was in the Klausenberger shul, of which he was a pillar. The sweetness, the heart, and the warmth with which he davened every single tefillah—whether a weekday mincha or tefillas ne’ilah—remain etched into the minds and hearts of all those who knew him.
Then there was his boundless chessed.
From his earliest years, he was a ba’al chessed to his core, because he loved Yidden with every fiber of his being. His door and his ear were open to every single person in need, no matter who they were. Over the years, he assisted tens of thousands.
This endeavor later became officially known as Kupas Ezras of Rockland County—with its numerous branches, lending every kind of assistance to the needy of the Monsey community.
Rav Hershel’s various facets were inherited by his children who continue his work in chinuch, tzeddakah, and avodas Hashem that were a hallmark of this legend of the Monsey community for more than half a century.