A mashgiach in a prominent yeshiva
once approached R' Moshe Aharon Stern zt'l, mashgiach
of Yeshivas Kamenitz in Jerusalem, upon one of his frequent
trips to America. He had a delicate problem; one of his
talmidim was extremely introverted and would not
relate to any of the students or to his rebbeim. A
closed book. No one could reach him.
R' Stern went to the yeshiva where the boy
was studying, approached him and asked if he would be willing
to chauffeur him around the city for fundraising purposes
during his brief stay.
In the course of driving around, the
Mashgiach became acquainted with the boy and he opened up. R'
Stern explained to the incredulous staff that he had brought
up one topic after another until he had discovered a good
base for conversation. Little by little, the boy began to
feel at ease and a close relationship developed. Before he
was about to leave, R' Stern invited him to relocate in the
Kamenitz Yeshiva in Yerusholayim. His parents, who had given
up on reaching their silent son, were overjoyed at the
Back in Jerusalem, the Mashgiach swung into
high gear in preparation for his arrival in Eretz Yisroel. He
enlisted ten boys as a Welcoming Committee, with each one
determined to be his `best friend.' Four boys accompanied the
Mashgiach to the airport, where they broke out in song and
dance for their new friend in full view of his overwhelmed
family, who had accompanied him on the trip. The boy remained
in Kaminetz and blossomed. Asked how he had achieved this
transformation, the Mashgiach repied, "If a student does not
learn, this proves that his Rebbe doesn't love him enough."
During his longstanding career in Yeshivas
Kamenitz, it was only natural that R' Stern be enticed to
move up. The most prestigious yeshivos in the world offered
him the position of Mashgiach, including Yeshivas Ponevizh.
He turned down R' Shach's invitation, claiming that if he
were to serve as Mashgiach in Ponevizh, he would not be able
to travel abroad as often. Well, he certainly wouldn't need
to, R' Shach reassured him, for he would be given a more than
adequate salary. It seemed that wasn't the point at all.
"When I travel abroad, I come in contact with
many families with marital problems. They are referred to me
for sholom bayis and I am able to help them." This
facet was very important to him, and he felt he could not
curtail this area of communal work. In a rare reference to
his peace making missions, R' Stern revealed to his wife that
since she enabled him to leave home for long periods of time
by assuming total responsibility for the family in his
absence, she had an equal share in his successful efforts.
The scope of this role was accentuated after his death when
one of the great Rabbonim in America stated, "The women of
America have great cause to mourn the death of this great
tzaddik, for no one knows how many homes he built and
how many homes he saved from destruction."
The Mashgiach reached out to countless
individuals in need and served as a pivotal influence in the
development of Torah life for countless bochurim and
seminary students in both Israel and America. His biography
provides a lively rendition of contemporary Jewish history.
Set against a mosaic of great ancestors and relatives, the
man's greatness is all the more outstanding. Torah pioneers
of the early 1900s serve as the backdrop for the story. Mr.
Herman of "All for the Boss" classic fame was his
grandfather, and the Androns, Scheinbergs and Krauzers his
close family. At stage center is the Mashgiach himself
(proving again that all the yichus in the world can
add up to a lot of zeroes if there is no one in front of it).
I had the privilege of hearing R' Stern speak
25 years ago in Toronto. At the time, he kept an audience in
rapt attention. His introduction was modest, his delivery
right on the mark. No feeling of a great man speaking down to
his audience. His humility warmed the audience up and made
his plea for increased yiras Shomayim eminently clear,
reasonable and applicable to everyone. The echoes of that
speech and many similar ones throughout the world reverberate
through the book.
If you were not fortunate enough to know the
Mashgiach, this is a chance to still imbibe some of his great
spirit. Have you ever searched for a true friend? A person
who accepts you as you are? One who doesn't preach at you,
but just reaches out to you and uplifts at the same time in a
non-condescending way? Who elevates and educates and acts on
Meet the Mashgiach, a prince of a man, a
giant among greats, scion of a great Torah and Klall-
devoted aristocracy, steeped in simplicity, who balanced his
love for Hashem with love for his fellow man. Intertwined
with stories, Jewish lore and history are many wonderful
insights in Chazal. Many pertinent issues are raised and seen
through the eyes of this great man, as recorded by his son,
R' Yechiel Michel Stern.
"The Mashgiach" is a book that will be read
and re-read in homes all over the world. Related and relating
to its famous predecessor, "All For the Boss" (which is
presently being revised and updated for Feldheim by its
author, Rebbetzin Ruchoma Shain tichye), it shares
much mutual territory, but enjoys a unique flavor of its
As an interesting postcript: Hagaon R' Chaim
Kanievsky shlita has been quoted saying that reading
this book (in the Hebrew original) increased his yiras
Shomayim and even enhanced his quality of Torah study!