Remembering the Life & Legacy of HaGaon HaRav Yaakov Spivak, zt’l

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At the 7th Chag HaSmicha on June 7, 2015. From left to right: Rabbi Moish Schmerler (in the back, wearing a black hat), Rabbi Yaakov Spivak, zt’l, Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, Fern Sidman (holding award) and Rebbetzin Eisner.

By: Fern Sidman

Baruch Dayan Emes. Rabbi Yaakov Spivak, zt’l will be sorely missed. He was a true mensch in every way and lived his life emulating the gadlus of HaShem. The example he set of being an erliche yid at all times, a renowned Talmid Chocham and remarkable mechanech will be remembered for posterity.

I first remember meeting Rabbi Spivak in the late 1970s when he, along with Zev Brenner did their Sunday night talk show on 1330 AM on the radio. Always passionate about Jewish causes and fighting for the rights of his people, Rabbi Spivak went on to become a columnist in the Jewish Press and other publications. As a member of the JDL, he and I would often share memories of Rabbi Meir Kahane, ztk’l and the nascent days of Jewish activism. Rabbi Spivak spoke with palpable emotion when recalling the demonstrations we had attended for Soviet Jewry, for Israel and for religious rights throughout the world.

Rabbi Yaakov Spivak, zt’l being interviewed by Fox News on the subject of anti-Semitism. Photo Credit: YouTube

Rabbi Spivak would often say that we lived in the shadow of the Holocaust and that contemporary anti-Semitism could never be dismissed but rather must be confronted. He was a man who cleaved to HaShem and taught others that a life without Torah was devoid of anything redeemable. I distinctly remember the numerous conversations that we had about a seemingly infinite amount of subjects and there was nary a time that he did not hearken back to his youth as he consistently expressed hakoras hatov to his family, his rebbeim and all that he was able to accomplish with Hashem’s help.

As a young boy growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, he told me what life was like there for frum yidden and how nervous he was when he first arrived at yeshiva in Baltimore. His rebbeim took him under their wing and gave him the confidence that he needed to become an outstanding bochur in so many ways. He often attributed his desire to start Kollel Aishel Avraham ( in memory of his beloved father, of blessed memory) because of the love of learning and the love of being a true Eved Elokim that he learned from HaRav Ruderman, zt’l and others who made such a profound impact on his life.

Rabbi Spivak learned yomim v’layla and his unwavering dedication to his precious seforim not only inspired others but led him to write his own responsa and his own seforim.

As an intrepid progenitor of the Jewish media scene he knew all too well the power that radio, TV and years later social media could have in shaping hearts, minds and neshomas.

Until his last days he wanted to expand his YouTube channel so that he could reach out and educate others. My greatest regret is that I did not have the time to be more involved in his work. He always had my tremendous respect and admiration and he knew that. The last time we talked, he had interviewed the actor Jon Voight on his radio program right before the presidential election of 2020, at my request.

Rabbi Spivak’s sheer brilliance, erudition and breadth of knowledge was beyond astonishing in every way and I learned so very much from him as did practically everyone who knew him. I am deeply grieved on his passing and I know I will miss him terribly.

Rabbi Spivak’s passing has left an aching void in our lives here in this mortal world, but I know that Shamayim is a much happier place right now with him sitting next to the Kisey HaKavod, beseeching Hashem for his people.

A view of the audience (of all ages) listening raptly to Rabbi Yaakov Spivak. Effie Nagar – Talia’s owner, in blue shirt – sits against the back wall. Photo Credit: kosherscene.wordpress.com

May Rabbi Spivak’s precious neshoma have an aliya in Gan Eden and may his memory be for a special blessing. May he always be a melitz yoshor for his beloved family and all of Klall Yisroel and may he have a lichtige Gan Eden.

Rabbi Spivak, goodbye my dear friend. Let us meet again very soon at the coming of Moshiach Tzidkenu Bimheyrah v’Yameinu.