Sunday, May 15, 2011

Rabbi Amos Bunim - Z"TL

Rabbi Amos Bunin Baruch Dayan Emet 1929 -2011

I am forever indebted to Rabbi Amos Bunim (OBM) for writing the fantastic biography of his beloved, iconic, father -Irving Bunim. His father was one of my earliest and most powerful spiritual influences who continues to be an inspiration for me today. The book is clear, yet comprehensive. He succeeded in capturing a lifetime and a period of history in words that make it all picture perfect in your head and heart. He succeeded in writing a book about a holy Jew who was not a rabbi by title or profession. His book succeeded where so many others failed.

One of my favorite stories in the book concerns R Amos' childhood. R Amos grew up learning that the definition of a deprived childhood is not knowing what it's like to give up your bed for a guest.

You can read a eulogy here, and also see a video of Rabbi Amos Bunim speaking about his father (6:06-21:50). There's also a beautiful, freshly written memorial piece about him here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Jewish Press had a great interview with Rav Amos Bunim this past December. Here's the link:

May 15, 2011 at 6:07 PM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

Thanks. He gives more details about this story at the end of the video linked to in this post:

Rabbi Bunim: I was very active in Torah Umesorah and Chinuch Atzmai, and was very active with Reb Aharon. I used to go on very important missions with Reb Aharon, some of which were missions impossible.

The Jewish Press: Can you elaborate?

Rabbi Bunim: When I was 26 years old, Reb Aharon called me up and told me there was a whole group of Jews who had lived through the Holocaust who had gotten involved in smuggling gold. He wanted me to meet with the judge and ask for rachmanus. I said to Reb Aharon, "I'm 26 years old, I was never in court in my life, why are you sending me?" I argued with Reb Aharon for 15 minutes until finally I asked him, "Rosh yeshiva, are you telling me this b'geder da'as Torah and emunas chachamim?" He said, "Yes." I said, "Then I have no choice." He said, "That's right, but I want to tell you one thing: whatever you do in life, if you do it with emes you'll always succeed."

So I had no choice, but the odds against me were probably a million to one. I walked to the federal court and told the person behind the information desk that I wanted to schedule an appointment with Judge Lynch. He said he couldn't call Judge Lynch since he had no secretary, and the only way I could get to Judge Lynch is if I knocked on his door myself. I knocked on the door and the judge opened it and asked me, "Why are you here?" I said, "I am here representing the chief justice of Jewish law." He said, "Who is the chief justice of Jewish law?" I said, "His name is Rabbi Aharon Kotler and he is the head of the most prestigious rabbinic seminary in the world." He said, "Come in."

So I came in and I said to him, "Your honor, there's no way in the world that you can judge these people like you would judge an American. These people were in concentration camps. How can you expect them to respect human law when they saw there was no respect for human life?"

It's a long story, but at the reading of the verdict the judge accepted my logic and the sentence was suspended. When I heard the verdict, I ran out and I called Reb Aharon. I never heard such simcha in my entire life.

May 15, 2011 at 7:05 PM  

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