40 years ago, parashas Pinechas, my bar mitzvah peshetl at Shabbos lunch was about the contrast between Pinechas’s extremism and that of Shim’on and Leivi.
That peshetl was written by a master of thoughts on the parashah, future-Rabbi Matis Blum zt”l. Reb Matis fell victim to CoVID-19 over Shabbos. 10 Nissan, 5780.
These are disjointed thoughts… Not collected into some polished tribute. My attempt at coping with devastating news when I just read it.
When I was 11 or 12 years old, I started attending the Bachurei Minyan in Yeshiva of Central Queens. It was organized by a bachur named Matis Blum. We finished significantly before my and Matis’s father’s Shabbos morning minyan, so my father got him to learn with me from after davening until they got home from shul.We learned together every Shabbos, 10 months a year (not camp) through R’ Matis getting semichah, his marriage, and until I got married and moved away.
That’s in addition to attending his shul as the bachurim ceased to be bachurim, and it evolved into congregation Torah Ladaas.
Torah Ladaas is also the name of his VERY popular collection of seven sefarim of divrei Torah on the parashah. At the time we started learming, Matis was already putting out a weekly parashah sheet named Torah Lodaas in honor of the yeshiva he attended. The sheets were typewritten and mimeographed. I don’t know if he invented the concept of parashah sheet, but if not, he was an early adopter.
Torah Lodaas was collected into one seifer, then two, and is now available in 7 volumes, and is amazingly popular.
R’ Matis was a close talmid of R’ Pam zt”l. I recall R Pam showing up at a shul function — an incredible honor for a function that didn’t draw much more than 2 dozen bachurim and young married men in a basement.
In 2008 Rebbetzin Etti passed away at just 45 years of age, leaving Reb Matis a single parent with children in the home. Shortly after the funeral, I blogged about her truly bitachon-filled attitude toward fighting a brain tumor in a post titled “The Kindness of Hashem“.
And now he too passed away at a much younger age than we hope for.
A true anav. I recall R’ Matis asking me why it would take me so long to finish YU. I explained that 126 credits, 50 min per week for a semester each credit, my major had a lot of requirements. He asked me why I didn’t just study for the CLEP (College Level Equivalency Placement) tests and skip half those requirements. R’ Matis had no conception that he had unique gifts. He didn’t understand that most people can’t just polish off all that material on their own.
We lost a soft-spoken brilliant man, both a ba’al middos and a talmid chakham. Yehi zikhro barukh!