About Rav Avrohom Yaakov HaKohen Pam
Rav Avraham Yaakov HaCohen Pam (1913 - 2001) grew up Lithuania. His father Rav Meir, was a Gaon in Torah, and his mother a melumedes extraordinaire and a pillar of chesed. Rav Pam's stay in Slobodka, basking in the glow of the great gedolim whose presence illuminated the shtetl, though short, had a tremendous impact on his life.
In 1927 as conditions in Lithuania deteriorated, Rav Meir Pam took advantage of an opportunity to move and settle in America. He began his career at Yeshiva Mesivta Torah Voda'ath in 1938. Rav Pam was renown for his fiery pilpul chaveirim, and the Torah friendships he forged that impacted his life and that of his talmidim. With the passing of Rav Eliyahu Chazan, Rav Pam was appointed Rosh HaYeshiva the position he held until the end of his life.
Rav Pam shunned the limelight. He preferred to devote his days and nights to his life’s passion; the study and teaching of Torah. He worked tirelessly on behalf of Jewish educational causes both in the United States and in Israel.
Tens of thousands of Jews considered Rav Pam a "godol"," a spiritual giant. They regarded his words as gems to be gathered, even when his message consisted of criticism. For his listeners knew - from his reputation, his demeanor and the unmistakable pain on his face - that Rav Pam's exclusive motivations were fear of God and love for fellow Jews.
Anyone who ever met Rav Pam could not help but recognize his modesty. Although he was a great person, one of the gedolei hador, his humility was striking, his simplicity remarkable, and his honesty and integrity impeccable. He displayed remarkable sensitivity for other human beings, and the ahavah that he transmitted could be touched with your hands. He cautioned against being judgmental of others His sense of halacha and its practical application was impeccable.
Honesty and integrity were also recurrent themes of Rav Pam's. Meticulous honesty, he said is the mandate of every Jew, and must be the hallmark of every one claiming to be observant."Emunah," he went on to explain, also means "faith," alluding to the fact that faith in our Creator as the source of our daily bread is antithetical to acting dishonestly.
Perhaps above all, he was powerfully dedicated to making authentic Jewish education available to all Jewish children - the "jewels in the crown" of the Almighty, as he once wrote. He personally founded, Shuvu. It provides young immigrants to Israel, largely from the former Soviet Union, with a comprehensive Jewish education in an open and loving environment, helping both the children and their parents reconnect with the Jewish religious heritage.
All Jews, whether they knew of Rav Pam during his life or not, would do well to recognize the profound loss to us all that his death represents. We all know that any and every attempt to capture this giant's greatness will fail to do him justice.
His father Rav Meir, was a Gaon in Torah whose entire life evolved around limud HaTorah. Rav Pam often told his talmidim-and especially his grandson R' Meir, who is named after his great-grandfather, that Rav Meir never stopped learning in order to go to sleep. He would concentrate on either a Ketzos or Reb Akiva Eiger until finally dozing off to the strains of their svaros, often waking up in the middle of the night to find the seforim still lying open beside him.
Another potent force in molding Rav Pam's fervent hashkafa was that of his mother, Rebbetzin Rachel Leah, a melumedes extraordinaire and a pillar of chesed who constantly set aside money for the impoverished. She was the daughter of Rav Shimon Dov Analek, the Shedlitzer Rav and a Talmid muvhak of Rav Eizel Charif
Rav Pam's zaide, Rav Shimon Dov, served as the Rav of Tiktin and later in the Chassidic community of Shedlitz
"The life and ideals of Rabbi Avrohom Yaakov Hakohen Pam", by Shimon Finkelman