Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Reb Ari Dovid Block zt"l

Hundreds of talmidim, friends, relatives and community members filled the massive auditorium of Yeshivas Shor Yoshuv as they stood in shock at the levaya of Reb Ari Dovid Block, z”l, a 24-year-old yungerman of the Sho’or Yoshuv Kollel in Far Rockaway, who was niftar suddenly on Sunday, May 13th. Reb Ari was niftar only a year after his marriage to Feigy Ludmir, the daughter of Reb Chanoch Ludmir and the day before the Pidyon HaBen of his bechor, Avraham Yeshaya n”y.

Reb Ari Dovid who was known for his tremendous hasmada and power of hashpa’ah, was beloved to all his friends and Rabbeim and the hundreds of people who knew him, all of them who openly wept like children at the largely attended levaya.

Raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Ari grew in Torah in Eretz Yisrael and most recently in Yeshivas Shor Yoshuv where he became a close Talmid of the Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Naftali Jaeger, shlit”a. Rav Jaeger spoke about Reb Ari’s commitment to sidrei Hayeshiva and his unwavering hasmadah. Ari learned in the Yeshiva for three years but this past year, his shana rishona of marriage, he showed unparalleled hasmada. His shemiras hasedorim was extraordinary for any yungerman, let alone one who was recently married. In fact, the day he was niftar, R’ Ari Dovid had gone to the vort of a chavrusa during Bain haSedorim on Sunday. When he realized that the distance from the vort back to yeshiva was longer than expected, he called his chavrusa to say that he would rush back but that he did not realize how far (West Hempstead) was from far Rockaway and would be a little late. He implored his chaver to please tape the shiur that he was supposed to hear, just in case he would miss the first few minutes.

Ari, would never hear that shiur in Yeshiva shel matoh. He collapsed moments later and passed away.

With tearful eyes, Rav Jaeger mentioned that as they were discussing the upcoming Pidyon HaBen, of Ari Dovid’s newborn son Avraham Yeshaya, Ari Dovid’s asked if he could give a donation to a tzedaka fund that was dear to the Rosh Yeshiva. When Rav Jaeger mentioned that as much as he appreciated the offer, it was not necessary for a yungerman of small means to contribute, R’ Ari Dovid did not argue and seemed to be content not to give.

On the day of the Levaya, the Rosh Yeshiva found a check inside under a sefer on R’ Ari Dovid’s shtender. It was made out to the tzedaka and contained a note mentioning that the donation was l’kovod the Simcha.

R’ Ari Dovid’s father, Dr. Yitzchok Ahron (Robert) Block, a well known psychologist both in Phoenix and Lawrence, spoke about Ari Dovid’s devotion to Torah and how it was he who inspired his entire family to grow in Torah and Yiras Shamayim. Even after a difficult operation a few years back, Ari mustered strength to be at the side of his ailing grandfather, Rabbi Morris Block, the founder of the Brooklyn School for Special Education, one of the first schools for severely handicapped Jewish children.

Ari’s Uncle Rav Zvi Block, Rav of Kehilas Toras Hashem of Los Angeles spoke warmly about his long-standing relationship with Ari. During his formative years Ari had a seder with him via telephone, and never missed calling. Ari had a personality which brought a Simchas HaChaim to everyone who was in his sphere. People wanted to be close to him, to talk to him, to hear his divrei chizuk about everything.

His family members commented how so often, no matter what the situation, Ari would walk into his home singing a nigun. And the simcha he exuded complimented his leibedikeit in learning. He was makpid to learn before the davening until late at night. He not only learned for himself but he inspired others. A chaver, Yoni Sebag of Phoenix who is currently a talmid at Shor Yoshuv, was one of the many friends from Phoenix and across the country who were directly influenced by R’Ari Dovid’s effervescent personality. “If not for Ari, I would never have reached any madreiga in Torah and Yiras Shamayim,” he exclaimed tearfully, echoing the sentiment of so many who were inspired by Reb Ari Dovid’s enthusiastic approach to Avodas Hashem.

Ari’s father in law, Reb Chanoch Ludmir gave a stirring hesped in which he mourned the loss of his son-in-law who was indeed a matana. The combination of Ari’s tremendous commitment to limud HaTorah and the mesiras nefesh of his wife Faigy gave them aspirations of a couple that would grow to greatness. Ari named his son Avraham Yeshaya after someone he idolized his entire adult life, the Chazon Ish. Rav Chanoch cried bitterly as he shouted, “I am sure that this Shavuos you will be learning together with the Chazon Ish in Yeshiva shel maalah!”

In addition to his infant son Avraham Yeshaya, R’ Ari Dovid is survived by his parents Dr. and Mrs. Robert Block, two sisters, Rachel married to R’ Noach Tomashevski and Naomi who is engaged to be married next month to Yehushua Goldstien, a a younger brother Yoshi, a talmid at Yeshiva Toras Chaim of South Shore.

May he be a meilitz yosher for his wife, his son, his entire family and all of Klal Yisroel