A Tragic Double Loss| January 24, 2023
Two special members of our kehillah, Reb Boruch Taub a”h and Reb Binyamin Chafetz a”h, passed on to the Olam HaEmes after a tragic plane accident
In Tribute to Binyamin Chafetz
By Rabbi Yitz Frank
The Cleveland community experienced an unthinkable tragedy this past Thursday. Two special members of our kehillah, Reb Boruch Taub a”h and Reb Binyamin Chafetz a”h, passed on to the Olam HaEmes after a tragic plane accident. Their families, and all of us, are left to grapple with this tremendous loss that has upended so many worlds.
Ben Chafetz was a unique individual, driven by ambition to grow in ruchniyus and fueled by bitachon. His emunas chachamim and respect for gedolim was extraordinary. Ben was a highly opinionated person, yet subjugated his judgment to that of his rabbanim, even when he didn’t necessarily agree with them. He was a kovei’a itim and learned Torah with many different yungeleit and rabbanim. He uplifted everyone around him with his passion for chesed; one simply couldn’t help but get swept up into whatever his latest project was.
Ben had an incredible mind and unlimited energy. He provided business counseling to many members of the community. His company, 121 eCommerce, was the first corporation in Cleveland to join the “Adopt-a-Kollel” initiative, and he viewed his business simply as a conduit to chesed and hachzakas haTorah. Ben hired many members of the community and provided many kollel graduates with their first jobs.
Already, many stories are circulating about the incredible amounts of tzedakah he would give. There were few institutions and individuals in Cleveland whom Ben didn’t impact. He truly believed that his resources didn’t belong to him, but to Hashem.
Ben had no limits. He simply didn’t believe in them. What most people would consider immovable obstacles were just inconveniences to Ben. Starting a yeshivah, building a shul, helping families in the face of tragedy, supporting kollelim, assisting people with parnassah; these all featured on his daily schedule. There was no challenge that he wasn’t up for. His bitachon allowed him to push himself in ways that normal people simply could not. We must learn from his example and push ourselves to do more. As Ben said, “Whatever you think you can do, do 50 percent more!”
Ben’s larger-than-life, energetic personality drew people to him. They just wanted to be in his presence, to join him in his succah, at an oneg Shabbos, or just to schmooze with him. He would light up every room with his smile and passion for connecting with others. That’s part of what made him so special. So normal and yet so unique.
Ben loved his family deeply and was a devoted husband and father and. But his definition of family didn’t stop there. He also viewed his kehillah, his rav, and his friends all as part of his family. And so many felt the same way about him and his entire mishpachah.
We lost a close friend, truly a member of the family. Ben will always be family, and we will always be there for his.
Rabbi Yitz Frank serves as executive director of Agudah of Ohio.
An Oversized Heart
In Tribute to Boruch Taub
By Chuni Stern
The shocking, sudden passing of Reb Boruch Taub a”h and Reb Binyamin (Ben) Chafetz a”h left the Cleveland Jewish community shattered. I’d like to sum up some of the key thoughts that were shared by friends, family, and rabbanim at Boruch’s levayah.
Great in stature, with an oversized heart, Boruch always found a way to make you feel appreciated. He had an amazing blend of maturity, responsibility, a quick smile and quick wit, all packaged with a seriousness about his life and his Yiddishkeit. His successful auto repair shop, which he ran with the utmost honesty, integrity, and erlichkeit, served as a base for his chesed activities.
Boruch was a tremendous machzik Torah and mokir rabanan — faithful to his learning sedorim and tefillah b’tzibbur. He exemplified “v’hatzneia leches im Elokecha — walk humbly with your G-d” (Michah 6:8), quietly doing the right things for the right reasons.
He would spare no effort to alleviate the burdens of others, whether it was dispensing advice, offering his repair services for free to those who couldn’t afford to pay, or simply being mechazek others with good cheer. He excelled at hakaras hatov, showing gratitude to his rebbeim and benefactors, even many years later.
Boruch truly cared about people, but above all he was devoted to building and raising his beautiful family, infusing them with a love of Torah, mitzvos, and chesed.
He didn’t let life’s challenges hold him back. Boruch viewed life as an opportunity to grow, and grow he did. What he didn’t yet know or understand was just another aspect of life to master and conquer. Whatever he did, he did to the fullest. Boruch leaves behind a legacy of devotion to Hashem, his family, and his community. His life was one of constant growth — singularly focused on the refrain “What do I owe you?”
“Hanistaros laHashem Elokeinu — the hidden things belong to Hashem our G-d” (Devarim 29:28). In his hesped, Rav Yitzchok Margareten, rav of Kehillas Shomre Shabbos, said that Hashem is asking us for emunah. He wants us to internalize that although we don’t understand what just transpired, we accept that ultimately it is for our good. Rav Boruch Hirschfeld, rosh kollel of the Torah LIFE Kollel and rav of Kehillas Ahavas Yisrael, encouraged the community to emulate the ways of the niftar by giving more and more, without a thought about our own egos.
May the suffering that we have endured be a catalyst for the coming of Mashiach, and may the memories of Boruch continue to inspire us until we are reunited again at techiyas hameisim. —
Elchanan (Chuni) Stern is a Health Care attorney at Ulmer & Berne LLP. He resides with his family in Cleveland Heights, OH.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 946)
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