Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Dr. Abraham Luchins, Z'L

*This post will remain on top for a few days. Scroll down for the latest from SerandEz.*

Serach's grandfather, Dr. Abraham Luchins, passed away Tuesday morning. His wife, Dr. Edith Luchins, passed away 3 years ago; he is survived by his children R' Dr. David Luchins; Dr. Daniel Luchins; R' Dr. Yirmiyahu Luchins; Dr. Anne Greenfield; and R' Yosef Luchins; their spouses; and his 22 grandchildren and 21+ great-grandchildren, ken yirbu.

Baruch Dayan Emes.

Some notes I've seen from around the blogosphere...:

The letter the Orthodox Union (OU) sent out:
Baruch Dayan Ha'emet

Executive Vice President, UOJCA

We regret to inform you of the passing of Dr. Abraham Luchins, a former member of the Union’s Board of Directors. Dr. Luchins, a distinguished psychologist, prolific author, and noted scholar is survived by 21 great grandchildren, 22 grandchildren, and five children including Orthodox Union Vice President David Luchins. The levaya is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, December 28th at Parkside Funeral Home, 2576 Flatbush Avenue, (718-338-1500) in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The shiva will commence at the home of Rabbi Dr. Yirmiyahu Luchins, 20 Park Avenue in Monsey, NY (845-425-5661) and David Luchins will be sitting from Motzei Shabbat at 11 88 McNeil Avenue in the Bronx (718-822-1216) Contributions in Dr. Luchins memory may be made to NCSY’s Ben Zakkai Honor Society.

We extend our deepest sympathy to the entire Luchins family.
A short piece written by a cousin of Serach's, another grandchid: (I'm lifting the whole piece as it doesn't have its own link) [EDIT: Current link]

Once, there was no Luchins Family. There was, however, a Luchinksy family. At some point, for reasons I've never gotten a clear explanation of, it became Luchins. None of the brothers spelled it the same. As such, my grandfather was the first Luchins ever. In fact, if you Google "Luchins", every single result is one of his children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren. Everything that makes us Luchinses, we got from him.

Today, the Twenty Seventh of December, in the year two thousand and five, Dr. Abraham Luchins, the first Luchins, the prototype, if you will, has gone to join his wife in Heaven.


So who was Abraham Luchins?

Well, first stop is every internet researcher's new favorite place, Wikipedia (albeit the German site). (EDIT: Google translated it... here [sort of])

You can also find a summary of his professional life here. That article mentions a scientific experiment that bears his name, the Luchins Water Jar Test.

That covers dry facts, but what about Abraham Luchins, the person ? Who was he?

Here comes the part where you'll think I'm crazy.

Whenever I think of my grandfather, I think of ice cream. You see my father, Grandfather, and I are all Ice Cream fanatics. We must have it in the house. Grandfather's house in Albany had a small fridge that always had Breyers in it.

He did this interesting thing though.

He would take out an almost-empty carton of vanilla. He'd scoop out the ice cream, eat it, and drink his coffee. Then he would take the remainder of the coffee and pour it into the Ice Cream carton, swishing it around and letting the ice cream melt into it. Then he'd pour it back in his mug and drink it.

One time, after seeing him do this for years, I offered to pick up Coffee Ice Cream for the next time he visited.

He gave me a look like I'd sprouted another head (a look I got a lot).

"Now where's the fun in that?"

That right there? That was Abraham Luchins.

But still, that wasn't all of him.

So far I've talked about his mind and his mouth, two amazing things, of course, but what about the rest of him?

The last time my wife and I visited him, it struck me how someone seeing my grandfather for the first time now would never realize who he was.

Looking at him then, how could someone imagine him to be a man who, fighting in the Second World War, traded his meal rations with other soldiers for dessert rations. Why? The meat in the meal rations weren't Kosher. Such was his devotion to his Torah.

How could you imagine that that wracked, bent body holds a mind that held it's own with the founders of Gestalt Theory?

Those gnarled hands - how could they have ever tended lovingly to a garden, bringing forth vegetables of all sorts (especially gourds. That man loved his squash).

That voice? Faded. Weak. That voice could never have taught thousands of students, at places like NYU, Yeshiva University, Touro College, and West Point Academy. It's simply not believable.


Looking at him, those scant few months ago, you'd never have thought any of that about him.

But if you like, I'll tell you all about him...


In summation, my friend Michael Pullmann may have put it best when he said "Boys learn the facts of life from their fathers, but they learn how to live from their grandfathers".

Really. There's nothing else to say.

From a fellow blogger:

A shock to the system--when the real world and "Olam HaBlog" collide

Today, I typed an announcement to be posted throughout my office building notifying our staff and visitors of the death of a staff member's father, and providing details concerning the funeral and shiva (roughly translated, the period when the mourners receive condolence visitors). Imagine my shock when I was making the rounds of the blogs and discovered that the deceased is the grandfather of a Jewish blogger's spouse. Baruch dayan emet--Blessed is the true Judge.
These are in addition to all the touching comments from readers of this blog, both here and via e-mail.

Thank you all very much for your kind words, thoughts, and prayers.


  1. Ezzie,

    Thank you for reprinting my article. It's going to be on the homepage at for the next month, at the very least, syou you cna just link to there.

    I've added you to my list of morning blogs. I can't believe you didn't tell me about this before...

    Only by Simchas,

  2. Oh, I wasn't sure how often you changed the homepage... I'll edit it later.

  3. my thoughts are with Serach. I have been there. I wish all well.

  4. Is that Anne Greenfield from Los Angeles? I think I know her.

  5. My deepest condolences to Serach and her entire family on the loss of her beloved grandfather. May his memory be for a blessing.

  6. wow. I want to school with her Binyamin Greenfield, ages ago. My deepest condolences to Serach and her entire family on the loss of her beloved grandfather. May his memory be for a blessing.

  7. Wow, it's a small world. I knew David Luchins when I was a student at Touro College. I even spent a lovely Shabbes at his house once.

    I'm very sorry for your loss.

  8. Ezzie-please send my Nichum Aveilim to your father in law. We were Mnachem avel at your uncle's this Saturday night.Your cousin's tribute could only have been written by a grandchild. It was beautiful.There is no doubt that Dr Abraham Luchins ZTL had an enormous impact on his immediate family's views on Torah, Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim. I could not nake the levaya but I heard from a dear friend who attended that everyone spoke about different aspects of Dr Luchins ZTL. What an enormous legacy that he left to his family.

  9. How nice. Spam.

    Ezzie, can you delete this?

  10. Mordechai - deleted. I had to take word verification off, because for some reason it kept rejecting me; this is what I get for my efforts.