An estimated 5,000 men and women traveled from throughout
Eretz Yisroel last Tuesday to attend P'eylim/Lev L'Achim's
annual assifa in Bnei Brak. They came in search of
chizuk and inspiration with which to face these
The event lasted nine hours, ending in the wee hours of the
morning. And the 5,000 Lev L'Achim workers and volunteers
came away with an important message: the weapon that can win
this war is in our hands.
"In the zechus of this great mitzva of zikui
horabim and of disseminating knowledge of Hashem's
omniscience among our fellow Jews," HaRav Yosef Sholom
Eliashiv wrote in the letter that was read at the gathering
by his son-in-law Rabbi Yosef Yisroelzon, "we will merit
eternal salvation from our enemies."
In his letter, HaRav Eliashiv extended his warmest blessings
to the Lev L'Achim workers and volunteers who devote
themselves to being mekarev non-religious Jews in
Eretz Yisroel "especially in these times, when `the sword
claims lives outside, and people are terrified inside their
very own homes'; when many residents of Eretz Yisroel feel
lost and confused, and eagerly seek a source of support and
HaRav Eliashiv emphasized that every member of the Torah
community is obligated at this time to reach out to his
fellow Jews and introduce them to a Torah way of life.
"In this manner he will save himself from danger as well,"
HaRav Eliashiv wrote, and went on to quote Chazal's statement
that the way to protect oneself from the danger that will
visit the world prior to the Messianic era is to engage in
Torah and gemilus chassodim.
"One should engage in Torah that contains an aspect of
gemilus chassodim," HaRav Eliashiv added, referring to
the type of kiruv work that Lev L'Achim performs
throughout Eretz Yisroel.
The Greatest Act
HaRav Aharon Leib Shteinman began his address by commenting
that he was very moved to see so many bnei Torah who
devote themselves to kiruv gathered together in one
place to hear words of chizuk.
He then cited the gemora in Brochos that
describes the simchah that Hashem experiences when the
mal'ochim say shira.
"At this exact moment," HaRav Shteinman said, "when the
simchah is at its peak, the gemora says that
Hashem `roars like a lion over the fact that He destroyed His
house and exiled his children.' What is the reason? Because
at the time of the greatest simchah is when a parent
most feels the absence of a missing child.
"Those of you who are gathered here today carry out your
important work for the purpose of returning the lost children
to their Father in Shomayim," HaRav Shteinman said.
"This is clearly the greatest act that a person can do today.
In this zechus, we will merit to see the Geula
HaRav Shmuel Halevi Wosner also illustrated the importance of
Lev L'Achim's outreach work in his address. HaRav Wosner
cited a Chazal that says that the Jewish people's 400-year
exile to Mitzrayim was a result of Avraham Ovinu's reluctance
to be mekarev the people of Sedom.
"HaRav Wosner said, "Avraham Ovinu reasoned that the people
of Sedom were too evil to come close to Hashem, and so he
gave up on them. For this he was punished, and his
descendants -- the Jewish people -- went into exile to
"The truth," HaRav Wosner continued, "was that it would have
been possible for Avraham Ovinu to be mekarev the
people of Sedom, despite their evil ways. I heard from the
gedolim of the previous generation that one must try
to be mekarev every Jew. If he refuses to observe
Torah and mitzvos despite one's efforts, one must try to be
mekarev his children.
"We have an obligation to be mekarev these
neshomos, especially during these difficult times. For
this reason we are very grateful to Lev L'Achim, for you are
fulfilling the obligation that rests upon all of our
I Don't Have Answers, I Have More Questions
HaRav Osher Weiss, rosh yeshivas Chug Chasam Sofer, gave
voice to many of the questions that people are asking
themselves during this difficult time.
"These are days of pain, of suffering, of tears," HaRav Weiss
began. "People have come to ask me many questions since
Pesach. How is it that people who were sitting down for the
Seder in Netanya, on Leil Shimurim, were
murdered in cold blood?
"My answer to these questions was, `I don't have answers, but
I do have more questions.' In sefer Sheilos Uteshuvos
Mima'amakim, written by HaRav Efraim Oshri zt"l in
the Kovno ghetto during the Holocaust, there is a reference
to Reb Moshe Goldkorn.
"HaRav Oshri relates in his sefer that this Reb
Goldkorn, through tremendous mesiras nefesh, somehow
obtained a little flour and on erev Pesach he mixed the flour
with water, lit a fire, baked ten matzos and managed
to eat a bit of matzo before the Nazi guards stormed
into his barracks. He was beaten savagely -- they knocked out
all of his teeth and broke his bones.
"In a bloodied state, he came to HaRav Oshri to ask a
sheila. What was his sheila? Did he ask, `Zu
Torah, vezu sechoroh?' Did he ask how such a thing could
have happened on Leil Shimurim?
"No," cried HaRav Weiss. "His question was, `Rebbe, how will
I fulfill the mitzva of achilas matzo without teeth to
chew the matzo?'
"One does not always need answers. Sometimes the questions
are more important than the answers. With questions such as
Reb Goldkorn's, we survived all of the difficulties of
golus -- all of the decrees and pogroms and
inquisitions. This is how we survived Hitler, yimach
shemo, and this is how we will survive the Palestinians,
yimach shemom. With mesiras nefesh and
deveikus to HaKodosh Boruch Hu, we will survive
these difficult days.
A Movement Sparked By Bnei Torah
Two guests of honor from the American Torah community graced
the event with their presence, the Novominsker Rebbe and
HaRav Dovid Shustel, a rosh yeshiva of Beth Medrash Govoha of
The Novominsker Rebbe began his address by expressing the
American Torah community's appreciation for Lev L'Achim
workers and volunteers for fulfilling an obligation that the
American Torah community is unable to fulfill -- namely,
doing kiruv work among non-religious Israelis.
The Novominsker Rebbe described Lev L'Achim workers as having
the great opportunity to do the mitzva of hashovas aveidoh
by returning thousands of lost souls to Hashem.
"There are entire generations drowning in rivers of
kefirah," said the Novominsker Rebbe. "When a person
is drowning, one throws him a rope, a chain. What kind of
rope does one throw someone who is drowning in kefirah?
It is the understanding that `Moshe received the Torah
from Sinai and gave it to Yehoshua, and Yehoshua to the
Zekeinim . . . ' It is the shalsheles of Torah that
was given to us at Sinai and continues until today. That is
the chain that we need to throw to them."
HaRav Shustel delivered a stirring speech in which he, like
the Novominsker Rebbe, expressed the hakoras hatov
that the American Torah community feels toward Lev
L'Achim workers and volunteers. He described himself as a
shaliach not just for Yeshiva Lakewood but also for "
all bnei Torah in America."
HaRav Shustel emphasized that a teshuva movement of
the kind that is sweeping through Eretz Yisroel "can only be
sparked by bnei Torah, who inspire others to teshuva
through Torah. "May you continue in your efforts directed
by the gedolei Yisroel," HaRav Shustel concluded,
"until the coming of Moshiach."
The Most Powerful Of Moments
Although there were many inspiring speeches during the
evening, the entrance of the gedolei Torah, some 30
rosh yeshivas, poskim and admorim, into the
hall was by far the most powerful moment of all.
When the rabbonim walked in, all of the people in the hall
began clapping their hands in unison, singing, "Yomim al
yemei melech tosif, shnosav kemo dor vodor." It took a
long time for the crowd to settle down. It really was very
moving to see virtually every Torah leader in Eretz Yisroel
sitting in the same room, at the same time, with a singular
purpose in mind.
When HaRav Raful, rosh yeshivas Neve Eretz, stood up and led
the recitation of Tehillim, one could feel the words
of Dovid Hamelech coming alive and penetrating the heart.
After the gedolim exited the hall, HaRav Yitzchok
Zilberstein, noted posek and son-in-law of HaRav
Eliashiv, kept the crowd on the edge of its seat with his
popular question-and-answer session.
In Our Hands
The last portion of the assifa was devoted to a round-
table discussion on the subject of enrolling non-religious
children into Torah schools. Lev L'Achim Kiruv Director Rabbi
Uri Zohar interviewed children from secular homes who had
made the switch to Torah schools, as well as with their
parents, old and new teachers, and siblings. The interviews
gave the audience a firsthand look at just how much their
hard work is achieving -- something many of them don't even
have the time to discover on their own.
It was past midnight when the last speaker of the event,
HaRav Chizkiyohu Mishkovsky, menahel ruchani of Yeshivas Gaon
Yaakov and Orchos Torah, took the podium. Known for his
powerful delivery and unique, rasping voice, HaRav Mishkovsky
gave one of his most emotional speeches ever.
"Our shlichus is to return the lost children to their
Father in Shomayim. Imagine the pain a father feels
when he realizes his children have been taken into captivity.
How much money would he be willing to pay to have his
children back? We are here in order to return His
"Soon Moshiach will be here. All of those children whom we
fail to reach will be cut off forever from the Tree of Life.
They will be lost to HaKodosh Boruch Hu forever. Only
those who we reach today, tomorrow, next week, next month,
will be zoche to eternity.
"It's in our hands! It's up to us! No one else is going to do
it but us! And we have to hurry -- before it is too late!"