Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

10 Shevat 5759 - Jan. 27, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly







At the Threshold of the Palace: HaRav Meir Chodosh -- 10th Yahrtzeit 29th Teves 5759

By Rabbis Yaakov B. Friedman and Aharon Meir Kravitz with Moshe Musman

Part II

Keeping Watch

The task with which each individual is charged is to survey and to supervise the Gan Eden that he carries within himself, in order to ensure that the seductive serpent does not steal its way in. -- R' Meir Chodosh zt'l

Each man stands at the threshold of a palace, of a Gan Eden that he carries within himself. He builds it out of his own intellect, understanding and emotions. Within its confines, he can realize the innate greatness that his Creator implanted within him, rising above his own ego and desires, subjugating his will and growing to the heights he was intended to reach.

Although on the one hand, external factors -- an array of character traits and shifting feelings, and the ever changing circumstances of life -- all exert their influence upon him, they, in and of themselves, do not play a decisive role. On the other hand though, constant vigilance must be maintained to ensure that insidious inner forces -- personal desires, pride, pettiness and narrowness -- do not infiltrate this inner sanctum, contracting its boundless heights and limitless vistas to the short, puny distances that are all that a stunted personality can contemplate.

Man must therefore constantly patrol the Gan Eden within himself, to ensure that neither the alluring aspect of the material world, nor the mirage of self aggrandizement gain a foothold, luring him to sacrifice his true greatness for the sake of their temporary pleasures and temporal prestige.

This was the picture of man which HaRav Meir Chodosh projected with both his speech and his silences, with both the greatest of his deeds and the slightest of his movements. They all bespoke deliberation, forethought and contemplation.

The control which he maintained over himself was not the result of a dry, lifeless restraint that represses feeling and spontaneity. It was rather the means by which he resolved the myriad components of different situations and their attendant claims for recognition, into a perfectly balanced response, thereby revealing him as one who had fully attained the stature and greatness for which he and his fellow men were intended.

Before he began a shmuess, Reb Meir's fingers would drum upon his shtender as his eyes traversed the faces before him, his fixed expression gently moving from one face to another. He bore an air of nobility about him that was reminiscent of Slobodke.

When he began speaking, his delivery was tranquil, orderly, and punctuated with long silences. His message was carefully built up, each new point adding to the one before, like bricks being carefully positioned in a new wall. Even the construction of the individual sentences was planned. The movements he made as he spoke were controlled, even forced -- every aspect of the shmuess was clearly the product of a great deal of thought. If Reb Meir waved an arm in the course of a shmuess, the bochurim sought some concealed explanation for it. He never raised his voice nor altered the way he enunciated his words.

Thought and careful deliberation were the essence of his being. They were his guides whether he was surrounded by an admiring throng or alone with his thoughts; whether the occasion was one of joy or of sorrow.

He was not devoid of emotion; but he kept his emotions under complete control. Reb Meir even had talmidim of many years who expressed surprise to hear that he did display emotion at times. This too, had its place, as befit the circumstances.

Reb Meir would weep as he prayed Shemonah Esrei, and would sing hauntingly while he learned. Then it was possible to glimpse the powerful feelings that churned within him. During the period of the Mandate, it was not unknown to find British soldiers standing outside Reb Meir's room, mesmerized by the melody of longing that emanated from within as Reb Meir sang while he learned.

But when he spoke in yeshiva, he was all tranquility and calmness. His knuckles might whiten as he gripped the shtender but no surges of emotion were allowed to intrude as he transmitted the fundamentals of Slobodke mussar to new generations.

His pain upon hearing about the sorrows of the generation, or the demise of gedolei Yisroel r'l, was sharp and real. His own feelings were used to help others, even then.

The only occasions upon which he agreed to speak publicly were hespedim, when he reasoned that the sound of his choking sobs that often made it hard for him to speak, would make a powerful impression upon the listeners.

When he was told about the tragic deaths of Mrs. Weiss and her three young sons R'l (just a few months before his passing) he wept bitterly five separate times, once over each of the children, once for the mother and once more for the father's anguish.

On one occasion, he came to comfort a family that had lost a young mother of many children R'l. After spending time with her husband and sons, he went to where her bereaved mother was sitting. He entered quietly and stood for a few moments in silence. Then he opened his mouth to try to say something and suddenly burst out in uncontrollable weeping and left. The mourner later commented that the visit of the mashgiach's had been the most uplifting experience of her life.

It was Tisha B'Av night in Chevron Yeshiva. Megilas Eichoh was being read from the steps in front of the Aron Hakodesh, so that everyone might hear. Afterwards, one of the roshei hayeshiva approached the mashgiach and pointed out that Eichah is supposed to be read in an undertone, not loudly. Reb Meir responded that while the megilla was to be read quietly, it was quite acceptable to cry out loud.

To Rise above the Occasion

Simchas Torah was always celebrated in Chevron Yeshiva with great rejoicing. Crowds of joyous bochurim would throng the mashgiach's home, filling it with rousing song. Yet Reb Meir would sit there, amid the festivities, earnestly contemplating the yoke which Torah places upon man. He was alive to the message of the day, yet unaffected by the outburst of emotion that ebbed and flowed all around him. He gave all his concentration to his thoughts.

Talmidim would enter Reb Meir's room -- there was no point in knocking first -- and try to divert his attention from the thoughts he was wrapped in. A bochur might cough loudly, even at the height of summer, or scrape a chair on the floor but Reb Meir continued to give all his attention to the sefer in front of him.

Once a chavrusa had to leave the room for a few moments, and on his return, he found Reb Meir explaining the topic to his empty chair. When the rebbetzin once had to interrupt him, she tried to do so by moving the sefer from side to side and up and down. But Reb Meir's head just followed the sefer, whichever way it moved! A sefer that changes position is no justification for interrupting learning!

There was even one occasion when a bochur entered the mashgiach's room while he was learning in order to take his photograph. He snapped several shots and the flash went off each time, yet the mashgiach did not lift his eyes from the gemora!

It was not mere intellect that determined these reactions, or absence of them. Neither did they signify that he was cut off from his surroundings chas vesholom. Reb Meir's most immediate environment was his inner Gan Eden. That was where his responses were determined. Insufficient reasons for breaking his concentration, whether they took the form of a roomful of dancers, the scraping of a chair or a moving sefer, simply did not budge him. So great was the power of his concentration that he did not realize that his attention was being sought; the disturbances on their own could not shake him.

He would describe how HaRav Avrohom Grodzinsky zt'l, Hy'd, spoke to him once at great length about maintaining uninterrupted Torah thoughts for extended periods of time. Developing this ability stood him in good stead throughout his life. He worked to ensure that all his thoughts, that every single mental activity, could be accounted for. In so doing, he gained control over his personality under all circumstances.

When a talmid who was engaged to be married complained to him that the myriad things he had to see to were laying waste to the spiritual boundaries which he maintained for himself, Reb Meir told him, "Right now you are a chosson. After your wedding comes the first year of marriage, with its own particular demands. With Heaven's help, children will arrive, who will need bringing up . . . [and what of] troubles and illness? My friend, life is such that one has to be in command of oneself! One has to rise above the circumstances!"

Reb Meir would continually urge talmidim to be tested on what they had learned. Besides the direct benefits of marshaling their knowledge, if one knows that one will be tested it heightens the awareness that one is not free to come and go as one pleases, even if one's life is dedicated to Torah learning and one's personality is protected from excesses by involvement in Torah. A bochur had to realize that acceptance of the yoke of Torah is a matter of life and death, even after he has satisfied himself that he is learning!

The Art of Interpersonal Dealings

The time was two a.m. The members of Reb Meir's household were resting but the light still shone in the mashgiach's room. The elderly Reb Meir had already spent several hours in the company of his visitor, a distinguished looking Torah scholar who sat on, calmly discussing his ideas and insights with his host, who was to rise for a new day in a few more hours. Reb Meir was giving the man his full concentration. A warm smile rested on his face and he listened to every word with evident enjoyment. Whatever else he might have wanted to be doing was far from his thoughts, as was any tiredness he may have been feeling. When the visitor, a warm hearted and understanding man, was asked the next day how he had allowed himself to rob the mashgiach of his sleep and his energies, he responded in amazement, "Rob him?! Cholila! I saw his beaming eyes and the look of pleasure on his face and I overcame my own tiredness to give the rebbe some enjoyment!"

One of the most often traversed areas of the inner Gan Eden is the one which governs relations with one's fellow men. Learning to subdue one's own immediate distractions and maintain a pleasant countenance toward other people was a subject to which Reb Meir devoted much of his own and his pupils' attention. Whatever inner struggles a person is undergoing, they ought not to become the burden of those around him.

"A man who walks around in public with a beclouded face," Reb Meir would quote the Alter as saying, "is a public hazard!"

Even while one of the mashgiach's own sons was undergoing a difficult operation, a talmid who came to speak to him was received cordially. The talmid stayed on for a long time, but Reb Meir in no way hurried him or hinted that he was under pressure just then.

One of the most often repeated recollections of Reb Meir, mentioned by tens of talmidim among them men who have since developed into great Torah scholars, was his beaming countenance, the highlight of which was the smile that was always visible upon his face. Every greeting, even a simple "Good morning" or "Gutt Shabbos," was accompanied by that broad, warming smile.

During the days of shiva, when many of the talmidim who visited relived their memories of the mashgiach, there was one formula that was heard over and over again, in almost the same words: "The mashgiach was a benevolent father. He loved everyone as though they were a part of himself. And yet, with me he shared a special friendship . . . "

The different aspects of interacting pleasantly with others were discussed by Reb Meir at length. Once, for over six months, he delivered a va'ad that was devoted to the topic of calm, gentle speech. These va'adim had three sections: speaking softly, speaking slowly and calmly and finding pleasant things to say.

A ben Torah who aspired to the standards of Slobodke had to rework the way he spoke so as to make his words more pleasant to the listener. On many occasions, talmidim saw Reb Meir open his mouth as though to say something, only to close it again quickly. After some further internal reworking, he would actually speak, and what he said was a pleasure to hear.

He had an unusual way of reacting to a bochur's late arrival at a va'ad which he held in his home. It serves as a wonderful example of the way in which he trained his talmidim to adapt in their speech. He would observe, "You've come late. Without a doubt you must be extremely occupied . . . and it must be a sacrifice on your part to take the trouble to come despite everything! Be glad of that! We are happy that you have joined us!"

Good Will

To a group that was discussing the trait of anger with him, he once pointed out that, "It is not the trait of anger that needs working on, but the trait of good will. Once a person's anger is aroused it is too late to work on it. However, if one maintains good will and sees things in a positive light, one will never reach the point of getting angry."

The main thing to watch, he would say, was to speak in a calm frame of mind. This would automatically lead to the desired type of speech. If one was troubled, one's speech tended to tumble out.

Why was it, he asked, that people spoke harshly? Because of the feeling that otherwise, nobody would listen. Chazal commented regarding this, "Rather the reproach of the fathers, than the humility of the sons."

The posuk (Bereishis 31:36), tells us, "Yaakov's anger flared and he quarreled with Lavan." What was the extent of Yaakov Ovinu's entire quarrel? "What is my sin and my shortcoming, that you have rushed after me?" He did not make demands; he was defending himself! If he would have verbally attacked Lavan, who knows what the consequences might have been? In the event, they were able to speak to each other.

At the beginning of this section, we mentioned that interpersonal relations were an oft traversed part of the inner Gan Eden and this should be stressed once more. Their correction and perfection was part of the work to be done as man strives to attain his true greatness -- a part whose importance cannot be overestimated, a part which he never ceased mentioning, yet still a part.

Being drawn too far out of oneself by contact with others negated the thrust of Reb Meir's teachings. When a smile and conversation were called for, they ought to be forthcoming unstintingly but in training talmidim, in showing them the greatness for which man was destined, silence also played an important role.

Reb Meir once said, "We learned much from the Alter's shmuessen and from the things he said but we learned still more from what he did not say, from his silences."

As proof of how silence itself is instructive, he would adduce the extensive Torah writings that have been based on things which Rishonim omitted from their works. Besides serving as a means of conveying instruction, silence is also necessary for proper assimilation of what has been heard from others. The silences in the course of his own shmuessen were intended to allow the listeners to think through what they had just heard in their own minds.

"I heard instructive things, wonderful speeches," he once commented. "Pearls of speech come out of ploni's mouth -- absolutely amazing! -- Ober tzum schweigen kumt dos nisht (It doesn't come close to silence)."

And indeed, it was only because he was so firmly ensconced within his inner Gan Eden, in the silent contemplation of understanding and self knowledge, that he was able to offer the fitting response to each individual situation, whenever and however it arose.

In his later years, Reb Meir would spend Pesach at the home of his son Rav Yosef. The house would hum with activity, as crowds of talmidim came to pay the mashgiach their respects over the days of the festival. Naturally, they shared with him divrei Torah concerning the halachos of Pesach.

One year, a visitor posed a very difficult question. Reb Meir thought it over for a while and then, his face beaming, produced a very satisfying answer. That same day, a while later, another visitor asked the very same question. Reb Meir listened to him and nodded in acknowledgement of the difficulty. "An eizener kushya!" he agreed.

He contemplated the matter again for a while, examining several answers, until he produced his original answer again.

The scene repeated itself that day many times. The question was presented by each visitor in his own way, but it was the same question. And each time, Reb Meir listened eagerly, praised the question and left the visitor feeling wonderful after a fruitful discussion with the mashgiach. Since the person sitting opposite him was posing the question for the first time, it was, for all intents and purposes, the first time for Reb Meir too.

Family members relate that at the Knessia Gedola that was held in Yerushalayim in 5741, just after Reb Meir had risen from his place on the dais in order to leave the gathering, he suddenly remembered that he had forgotten to take his leave of the venerable neighbor who had been sitting next to him. He turned around, went back to his place and sat down again.

He felt unable to go back, simply offer a parting blessing and leave again immediately. It would be obvious that he had forgotten to say good-bye the first time. He therefore remained seated for a further period and only after a while did he rise again, part warmly from his neighbor, and hurry on to the obligations which awaited him outside. Talmidim recall a fervent expression of his which remains engraved upon their hearts: "In the study halls of mussar, the mere mention of the words `bein odom lechavero' was enough to kindle a flaming fire!"

Be a Blessing!

"Concerning the posuk (Bereishis 27:34), `And he shouted a very great and bitter shout,' our Teachers tell us that Yaakov's descendants suffered in the times of Mordechai, on account of Eisov's pain: `and he went out into the city and cried a great and bitter cry' (Esther 4:1). And should you ask, wasn't Yaakov obligated to obey his mother? And don't Chazal tell us that ruach hakodesh rested upon her when she commanded her younger son to take two kid goats? All that is certainly true! Yaakov fulfilled his duty completely! Yet [there was one respect in which he could not help being deficient], he was not being a blessing to all around him!" -- Reb Meir Chodosh

One of things which Reb Meir constantly demanded from his talmidim was, `Be a blessing!'

Though Hashem told Avrohom Ovinu (Bereishis 12:2), `and I will bless you,' He added this injunction. A person must see to it that at all times and under all circumstances, he is bringing blessing to his surroundings. One has to get into the habit of being a geber, a giver.

On the posuk (Bereishis 33:18), `And he encamped before the city,' Chazal (Shabbos 33) tell us that Yaakov Ovinu introduced currency (money) for the inhabitants of the area. Although after his great victory over Eisov's mal'ach, Yaakov Ovinu was leading a nomadic existence and was burdened with the care of his family and property, he still found it important to provide a currency for the people of Shechem. They lacked a currency there, Yaakov Ovinu had the means to rectify the situation, and the trait of wanting to give something to others did the rest.

A yearly event in Reb Meir's family was Machaneh Bnei Torah, whose aim is to influence pupils of the National Religious yeshiva high school network to enroll in yeshivos kedoshos. There were many occasions when Reb Meir was asked not to attend the camp, among the reasons was that it was not quite the setting for a mashgiach of his seniority and standing. Reb Meir brushed aside such arguments saying that he had not come to this world for honor and if there was any way in which his attendance could help, he would go.

HaRav Boruch Mordechai Ezrachi, Reb Meir's son-in-law and rosh yeshiva of Ateres Yisroel, related that one year one of the campers, who had not been among the camp's most assiduous learners, gave up going on one of the trips, explaining, "I can't take my eyes off that princely figure, who sits for hours on end by the shtender, without lifting his eyes from the gemora." This boy said that he had decided to join a yeshiva kedoshah as a result of what he had seen in the mashgiach.

A closet was once delivered to Reb Meir's house. The porter who carried it inside sat down next to the elderly mashgiach and began recounting a string of curious stories. Reb Meir's son heard the man's tales and tried to put an end to the encounter but the mashgiach signaled to him to leave the man alone. When the porter had left, he explained that having his stories listened to was all that the man had in his life. When it was in his power to bestow a favor on his fellow man, he seized the opportunity.

A Giant Canvas

On several occasions he related how as a young bochur he had once accompanied the Alter on a trip to Berlin. They went to visit the Seridei Eish, HaRav Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg zt'l, who asked the Alter, "Talmidim from Yeshivas Slobodke come to visit Berlin and when I ask them to repeat our teacher's shmuessen and teachings, they can only repeat a few. Yet I know that your honor guides others with his words day and night! How can it be [that there is so little they can say over]?"

"I asked the Alter for permission to reply to the gaon," Reb Meir would relate, "And I told him, `When, in the course of his review, a bochur cites Chazal's statement that the mal'ochim who serve Hashem wanted to proclaim `Kodosh' before Odom Horishon, and the bochur says this as though it were something very simple and self evident, that's only because he's heard a great number of shmuessen, which have properly implanted this realization within him. The bochurim are therefore not really repeating a single shmuess, but are displaying the influence of a number of shmuessen.' He was pleased with this reply and I carried on, asking him whether the [Slobodke] bochurim that visited him were similar to bochurim from other yeshivos. He answered, `Indeed not -- they make a special impression.' I told him, `That's it. That is the result of the shmuessen they have heard.'

What one heard in Reb Meir's shmuessen varied from individual to individual, according to the listener's character and spiritual level. There were neither emotional outbursts nor dazzling flashes of sophistry. There was great depth and the lucid presentation of basic concepts but these too were concealed beneath a broad mantle of simplicity and humility.

In his shmuessen Reb Meir was building attitudes and outlook. He was erecting an entire edifice of thought and feeling, by its nature work that progresses slowly and methodically, beginning with the foundations and paying continual attention to detail. Mussar thought was far too important a matter to him to be relegated to the level of mere verbal pyrotechnics or bursts of nervous excitement.

Whenever a new talmid began attending shmuessen, he would grope in the dark for some frame of reference. He would hear pesukim repeated, would catch seemingly random ideas here and there and would not know what to make of it. After a year or two, he would find that the shmuessen were having a cumulative effect. He would notice the new patterns of thought that they had instilled in him. Somehow, somewhere along the line, something of the mashgiach's soul had become his own.

This was not a process that could take place in fits and starts. It required continual and continuous attention. There could be no `stocking up' on the inspiration and coming back when one felt like more. Whoever needed that type of experience had to look elsewhere. Full exposure to the richness of Reb Meir's character and vision, which could only be attained over a long period of time, revealed that the whole was much, much more than the sum of the individual parts.

In fact, this was the process through which the mashgiach had succeeded in absorbing so much of the Alter's essence. They had been inseparable for twenty years. Reb Meir's entire approach was founded upon absorbing from one's rebbe, as a prerequisite for independent progress. The fact that this or that detail may not seem to fit was not a reason to reject or refute.

A young talmid once interrupted a shmuess with a question on what was being said. Reb Meir was taken aback and sharply instructed him to wait until the shmuess was over. Having finished, he said to the talmid, "A yeshiva represents an entire edifice, planned down to the smallest detail . . . and in a yeshiva, one doesn't ask questions in the middle of shmuessen!"

Besides his deliberate preservation of many of the Alter's original formulations of his teachings, Reb Meir also strongly supported Yiddish as the language in which shmuessen were delivered. So it had been in Slobodke and so it continued in Chevron. When he was once asked how it could be that Yiddish could get closer to the inner meaning of Torah than loshon hakodesh, Reb Meir replied simply that, "Knesses Yisroel is the creation of the Alter. Reb Nosson Tzvi spoke in Yiddish!" When more time had passed and circumstances forced him to switch to Hebrew, it was an extremely difficult step for him to take.

There was a bochur who stopped going in to hear the shiur. The mashgiach of course did not take him to task over it. (He generally refrained from upbraiding bochurim on the spot; he always waited for some suitable opportunity to mention things by the way.) But once, when they happened to be travelling on the bus together to Hadassah Hospital, Reb Meir asked him why he wasn't going to the shiur. The bochur replied that there was nothing to hear there. Reb Meir asked him to repeat something the maggid shiur had said and the bochur did so, adding that there was nothing noteworthy in it. Reb Meir began to argue with him, telling him that the maggid shiur's intention had been such and such, and that when he said this he was referring to a further matter . . . until finally the bochur said, "It's all very well, but it is the mashgiach who said all this, not the maggid shiur." Reb Meir responded, "And what about the maggid shiur's mode of expression?"

Two Sides of the Same Coin

It was primarily through the Alter of Slobodke that mussar took firm root in the yeshiva world. Besides the numerous Torah institutions which he founded in prewar Eastern Europe, the Alter trained a handful of outstanding talmidim whom Heaven led to America and Eretz Yisroel, to rebuild the yeshivos there. While almost all, but not all, of them became roshei yeshiva, every single one was a godol beTorah. It was no accident that the heritage of Slobodke found its expression through these men. Gadlus ho'odom and gadlus beTorah are inseparable. The former came to remind man of the greatness he could attain, but without the latter there could be no growth.

Reb Meir was a paramount example of this. As a bochur, he was one of the best in the yeshiva. He studied together with Reb Boruch Ber; together they prepared the latter's shiurim on Yevomos.

Even as mashgiach, he delivered intricate chaburos on the topics that were being studied in the yeshiva. He would regularly enter the beis hamedrash during seder and contribute a thought provoking kushya of his own to the heated debates that were underway. His question would pass from one talmid to another, prompting discussion and attempted answers. Some would make their way to Reb Meir's home to offer their solutions. And even during periods when his duties as mashgiach took up large amounts of his time, his intense application to learning and his refusal, under any circumstances, to forgo the regular sedorim that he set for himself, were powerful examples to his talmidim.

The Alter was shocked when he discovered that there were those who claimed that scholarship in Slobodke had suffered on account of the yeshiva's mussar regimen. He regarded the accusation leveled by the opponents of mussar -- that its study facilitated ignorance finding a place within the walls of the beis hamedrash -- as nothing short of a crime. Such a charge was a cruel blow to the nobility of the Slobodke character.

The Alter heaped praises upon one of the opponents of the mussar system, after the latter visited Slobodke and spoke highly of the standard of Torah learning there. The Alter considered this visitor, if not quite a `seeker' or a man of ambition, as being, at least, the possessor of an open mind.

Besides the well known kollel of HaRav Yitzchok Elchonon Spektor zt'l, there was a second kollel in Kovno for a number of years, which the Alter established. The standard and intensity of the learning there was exceptional. Among the members were great Torah scholars, some who had served as rabbonim and disseminators of Torah, such as the Divrei Yechezkel, and HaRav Dovid Rappaport, a maggid shiur in Baranovitch. HaRav Rappaport's second sefer, Mikdash Dovid, which earned him great praise, was written in the setting of this kollel.

It was said in Slobodke that the difference between the Alter's Kovno kollel and other kollelim was the same as the difference between the Tzemach Dovid (HaRav Rappaport's earlier sefer) and the Mikdash Dovid.

When Reb Meir paid a visit to this kollel, and witnessed the fire and the vigor of the learning there, he was troubled by a question, which he put to the Alter a number of times. There was full application to learning, lomdus and pilpul, but where was the mussar? "You have opened a kollel for mussar, yet, though one sees gedolei Yisroel there, one doesn't witness toil in mussar. All one sees is greatness in Torah . . . "

And the Alter would reply cryptically, "Can't you see it?" repeating these words several times.

Reb Meir would say that at first, he did not understand what the Alter was telling him but that after a time, he realized what his answer was. Mussar was intended to transform its students and in so doing, it also transformed their progress in Torah. The Alter was telling him that mussar's highest goal was to transform man into a talmid chochom, into a repository for Torah. Toiling and laboring in Torah was the very embodiment of mussar!

Toiling in Torah was the highest expression of the elevated mindset which Slobodke sought to cultivate. Reb Meir would argue that a person who had learned Shas was the only really fitting subject to receive mussar instruction. Without Shas, there were no raw materials, nothing to work with. "There is," Reb Meir would say, "no one to talk to."

To the same extent that he conveyed Slobodke's vision of man's innate greatness and intrinsic worth, Reb Meir adjured his talmidim to apply themselves to learning, advised them how to learn, prodded them to achieve complete clarity in what they learned, to review and to test themselves and to make sure that they retained their learning. Whenever he spoke about the former, he spoke about the latter. They were not separate topics that he just happened to mention together; they were one and the same. True greatness, in Torah and in character, can only develop together, hand in hand. That is the only way to reach the Gan Eden that each person carries within himself.


For at least four generations, the Alter's teachings have been widely absorbed through many different channels. In both words and deeds, each of his talmidim exemplified the greatness that he cultivated within them, in their own individual ways. Today the Alter's influence has spread and diversified to the point where it has taken on very different forms, while still remaining, in essence, directly attributable to him.

In this respect too, HaRav Meir Chodosh was like the Alter. His influence upon generations of bochurim, many of whom today are passing on the ideas which they received from him to their own talmidim, continues to grow and to spread. Few, if any, of today's yeshiva bochurim knew him. Yet even those who had no direct connection with him ought to be aware of the debt they, and the Torah world in Eretz Yisroel owe him.


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