Reb Yoel Kahn, who served as the Rebbe MH”M’s chief chozer, and who taught Chassidus to tens of thousands as the foremost mashpi’im and teachers of chassidus, passed away on 6 Av.
He was 91 and passed away after an illness.
Reb Yoel was born on 16 Shevat, 5690 (1930) in the Soviet Union to Reb Refoel Nachman and Rivkah Kahan. His father was a tomim, having studied in the original Yeshiva Tomchei Temimim, in the town of Lubavitch, White Russia. He authored the well known work titled Shemu’os VeSippurim an authoritative and multi-volume compilation of historical accounts and anecdote.
At a young age, Reb Yoel emigrated to Eretz Yisroel together with his family, and studied in Yeshiva Achai Temimim in Tel Aviv under the tutelage of the famous mashpia Reb Chaim Shaul Brook. During his teen years he also studied privately with the famed mashpia and teacher of Chassidus Reb Moshe Gourarie. He also knew and was influenced by Reb Nochum Goldshmidt and to a lesser degree, by Reb Shlomo Chaim Kesselman.
Reb Yoel grew up a chossid of the Frierdiker Rebbe, learning his chassidus diligently. In 5710 (1950), unaware of the histalkus, he ascended a boat to travel to New York, traveling to learn in the yeshiva at 770. Arriving in New York, he quickly became attached to the Rebbe, quickly accepting the nesius.
As soon as he arrived in 770 his unique talents were and he immediately began to write hanachos of the Rebbe MH”M’s maamorim and sichos. Elderly Chassidim who were still chozrim of the Rebbe Rashab marveled at his special power both in understanding and in memory.
On 15 Elul, 5714, he married Luba Leah Butman, with the Rebbe as mesader Kiddushin. Shortly afterward he was appointed mashpia in one of the branches of the Chabad Yeshiva in the Crown Heights, and was later appointed head mashpia in the central Tomchei Temimim 770.
For decades, Reb Yoel served as the Rebbe’s chief chozer and maniach. Starting from the Rebbe’s first farbrengen, Reb Yoel, who was renowned for his phenomenal memory, would memorize the Rebbe’s sichos and ma’amarim. Following the farbrengens held on Shabbos or Yom Tov when no recordings are allowed, Reb Yoel would hold a chazara, where the Rebbe’s words would be repeated and transcribed.
As a maniach, he prepared the Rebbe’s edited maamorim and sections of Likkutei Sichos for publication. His magnum opus is Sefer HoErkim Chabad, an encyclopedia and analysis of Chassidus concepts.
In his role as the head mashpia of the Tomchei Temimim yeshiva at 770, Reb Yoel guided thousands of students in the teachings of Chassidus. He also traveled far and wide to give shiurim in Chassidus and to farbreng with thousands of Jews from all backgrounds.
Though he and his wife never had children of their own, he raised multiple generations of Chassidim, teaching them the ways of Chassidus, helping provide them with the foundations they needed to move on to become great Jewish leaders in their own right.
He is survived by his wife, Rebbetzin Leah Kahn.
The levaya will be held on Friday, passing by 770 Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights to the Old Montefiore Cemetery in Queens.