Rabbi Trainin was one of the few known to have received semichah from the Ohr Sameiach
Title: Top-Tier Rabbinic Trainin
Location: Plainfield, NJ
Document: Plainfield Courier-News
Rabbi Baruch Shalom Trainin was born in Dvinsk in 1882 to a prominent Chabad family. His relative Rav Shmuel Mechel Trainin was a close follower of the Rebbe Rashab of Lubavitch and served as his representative in St. Petersburg. While Baruch Shalom was educated in Lithuanian yeshivos, he maintained his lifelong affiliation with Lubavitch.
When Baruch Shalom reached marriageable age, the two rabbinic giants of Dvinsk, Rav Meir Simcha HaKohein (the Ohr Sameiach) and Rav Yosef Rosen (the Rogatchover Gaon) each pushed matches they thought would be the best fit for the budding scholar. Rav Meir Simcha won, and Baruch Shalom wed Heniah, the daughter of Rabbi Meir Levin.
Rabbi Trainin was one of the few known to have received semichah from the Ohr Sameiach. The document attests to the fact that he was “a baki in Shas Bavli and Yerushalmi.” (The American philanthropist and Torah scholar Dov Ber Manischewitz once tested him on all of Shas. For two hours, he cited lines in Shas, and Rabbi Trainin could recite each line in its entirety by heart.) Eventually he joined the beis din of Rav Meir Simcha.
Rav Meir Simcha served as sandek when Rabbi Trainin’s son Isaac was born, though in a nod to his Chabad lineage, the child was enrolled in the local Lubavitch cheder, next door to the Rogatchover’s home. Rabbi Trainin’s wife forged a close relationship with the Rogatchover’s second rebbetzin.
In 1925, Rabbi Trainin immigrated to the United States, and proceeded to lead congregations in Cleveland; Plainfield, New Jersey; and eventually Bensonhurst, in Brooklyn.
His sister spoke of the challenges he faced as a pulpit rabbi: “He had a terrible habit of telling the truth. He wished he could have done nothing but sit and learn, but needed to earn a parnassah.”
He possessed a wonderful sense of humor, which he utilized to reach his congregants in a unique way. His son related one such anecdote:
One of my father’s favorite stories [was] that of the shtotzorger, the city worrier. It’s told that in a small town in Poland, Reb Shlomo was the shtotzorger for 17 years. For a few pennies a month, he would worry for you and your family. In effect, for 17 years no one had to worry about a thing. Reb Shlomo worried for the entire Jewish community.
After 17 years of peace and serenity, one morning during the reading of the Torah in the synagogue, Reb Shlomo got up, banged on the table and announced that he was resigning. There was consternation in the synagogue.
The rabbi ran over to him and said, “Reb Shlomo, why do you want to resign? Is it that we’re not paying you enough?”
“No, my dear rabbi, money is not the problem at all. I got up this morning, and after 17 years, I realized that I have been so busy worrying for this whole community of mine that I haven’t had one moment to worry about myself. I must quit.”
Rabbi Trainin became active with the Agudas Harabonim, and was later instrumental in founding the Knesses Harabonim, a rival rabbinical group led by Rabbi Gavriel Zev Margolis. Blessed with a beautiful voice, Rabbi Trainin served as a shaliach tzibbur and moved many with his emotional Kol Nidrei.
Rav Baruch Shalom Trainin passed away in 1946 at the age of 64, and is interred alongside other rabbinic luminaries in the Mesifta Tifereth Jerusalem section of Beth David Cemetery in Elmont, New York.
All in the Family
Rabbi Trainin’s daughter Sonia married Rabbi Yechezkel (Charles) Kahane, a pulpit rabbi in Brooklyn and father of Rabbi Meir Kahane. Rabbi Trainin’s son Isaac served as an assistant to Rabbi Dr. Samuel Belkin at Yeshiva University before embarking upon a more than half-century career as religious director of the UJA-Federation of New York. Upon his passing in 2008, he was perhaps the last person to have vivid recollections of the two rabbinic luminaries of Dvinsk.
An Outstanding Ordination
Rav Meir Simcha issued only a handful of ordinations, restricting it to those who really needed it. Hence, Rabbi Trainin only received his on the eve of his departure for the United States. Once, at a convention of the Agudas Harabonim, one rabbi boasted that he received ordination from Rav Meir Simcha. Rabbi Trainin rose and declared, “If you present your semichah from Rav Meir Simcha, I’ll donate $100 to Ezras Torah.” Years later Rabbi Trainin met the rabbi and reminded him of his offer, adding, “A hundred dollars is worth a lot more with all the interest that’s been accrued!”
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 924)
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