Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

5 Shevat 5763 - January 8, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








My Rosh Yeshiva, My Mentor, My Father: In memory of HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth, zt"l, on his first Yahrtzeit

Compiled by Talmidim

A Personal Loss

A year later, the entire world is still aching over the loss of one of our greatest Torah giants. The distress has not subsided, and we are still staggering from the blow.

HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth was one of the greatest Torah giants of our generation. He was known as a godol hador, one of the seridei dor dei'ah, a remnant of the great previous generation. Our luminaries, the Devar Avrohom, the Mekor Boruch and others, marveled at his genius, at his total command of Talmud Bavli and Yerushalmi with commentaries, together with the deepest levels of logic and understanding. He clearly had pi shnayim beruach, a double measure of spiritual abilities, and was a brilliant thinker in both halochoh and aggadah. But most of all, he overflowed with life, pnimiyus and love of Torah.

At the same time, he was also av beis din and moroh de'asra of Antwerp, Belgium. Under his remarkable leadership, Antwerp was transformed after the Holocaust into a remarkable city.

HaRav Kreiswirth earned international acclaim as the father of the fatherless because he cared for the orphaned, the unfortunate, and the needy. He felt their pain. He understood their distress. He helped them financially and supported them emotionally. The Rav did nothing through agents or assistants; he shouldered the heavy burden of supporting the needy alone, with the greatest mesirus nefesh.

The entire Olam HaTorah always knew that he was a person who loved them with the deepest affection and who would always extend himself to help a struggling talmid chochom or yungerman. Rav Kreiswirth cherished the opportunity to help a ben Torah continue his learning, and he loved restoring peace of mind to a worried, troubled home.

As talmidim, our hearts go out to his illustrious, distinguished family; their loss unfathomable. Yet we too mourn our loss. Our Yeshiva, Mercaz HaTorah, had a unique relationship with the Rav: our Rosh Hayeshiva, he established the yeshiva and gave his life to it. He infused it with his heart and soul and imprinted it with his personal character. That is why our loss, that of the talmidim, is so very personal as well.

The Rosh Hayeshiva, zt"l, would often cite the gemora (Chagigah 5b) about Rav Idi, the father of Rav Yaakov Bar Idi, who would travel for three months after Pesach in order to attend one shiur in the beis midrash, and who would then turn around the next day to go home in time to fulfill of the mitzvah of rejoicing on Succos with one's wife. Chazal called him "a student for one day" for that was all the time he had in the yeshiva. The gemora concludes, based on a verse in Yeshayohu, that one who learns Torah even one day a year is considered as one who learned the entire year.

The Rosh Hayeshiva explained the gemora based on an idea that he propounded to the Chazon Ish, who praised the explanation. We often find that Chazal use the expression "one who . . . is considered as if he did . . . " What is the meaning of "as if"?

The Rosh Hayeshiva based his explanation on Shabbos 105b, where Chazal explain the meaning of the term. The gemora teaches that one who rips his clothes, breaks vessels, or throws out his money in anger is deemed as if he practiced idolatry. The gemora then adds, "For such is the tactic of the evil inclination: today do this, tomorrow do this, until he is told to go serve idols, and he does."

Here Chazal reveal that the term "as if" indicates that the roots of the second problem lie in the first one. Chazal reveal to us that a seemingly minor problem might be the indicator of a major difficulty.

Based on this idea, the Rosh Hayeshiva explained the reason that Rav Idi spent six months on the road in order to learn for only one day. That one day contained within it the "seed" for an entire year's learning. That one day left such an impact on him, that it affected the entire year. The Torah deems that one day of learning is as if he learned the entire year, because his entire growth in Torah for the year was encapsulated in that one day; and so much so that it justified six months of travel.

In the same vein, the Rosh Hayeshiva would apply it to himself. He told us that although circumstances did not enable him to spend more time with us -- his talmidim - - still, he was like a Rosh Hayeshiva dechad yoma, for one day. And he emphasized the fact that it is possible to be a Rosh Yeshiva and mechanech even if one does it only for a very short period of time.

Also we say: just as Rav Idi's year was entirely different due to that one day -- so were our own years in the yeshiva different as a result of the relatively few days we had with him. The ruchniyus and aliyoh in Torah that were manifested all year, stemmed from those days. The concepts we absorbed, the depth of understanding we experienced, the inspiration and chizuk we imbibed . . . all these were instrumental in building each talmid in every sense of the word -- for an entire lifetime.

Many talmidim remember that when the Rosh Yeshiva would arrive in Eretz Yisroel, the entire Yeshiva would wear royal garments -- figuratively speaking. The entire ruach of the Yeshiva was elevated. We could actually feel that there were two distinct time periods in the Yeshiva: when he was with us, and when he was not.

When the Rosh Hayeshiva was in Eretz Yisroel, he would daven Shacharis in the Yeshiva nearly every day. These tefillos were such deep, heartfelt expressions of soul and spirit that one could actually feel oneself being lifted to a higher plane. When he davened Pesukei Dezimroh and Krias Shema, it was literally what Chazal call kemoneh margaliyos, like counting jewels. We saw this clearly in his speech and deep-seated sensitivity in davening. One could discern clearly how his davening was so alive, so real. It was undeniably "kol atzmosai tomarna -- all my bones exclaiming . . . "

Watch Over Yisroel!

I simply cannot forget the intensity of the Rosh Hayeshiva's davening Shomer Yisroel. This tefilloh -- as we all know -- tells of Hakodosh Boruch Hu's Divine Providence and care for his beloved people, "Guardian of Yisroel, watch over the remnant of Klal Yisroel, and let Yisroel not be destroyed! He Who watches over the unique nation, watch over the remnant of this unique nation!"

What fervor! What passion! The Rosh Hayeshiva's eyes countless times shed tears . . . .

One of the Rav's favorite passages was from the tefillos of the first night of Selichos, "Look at the suffering, not at the sins!" Let Hakodosh Boruch Hu remember the many tzoros of Klal Yisroel! In fact, even during the rest of the year, when the Rosh Hayeshiva would mention this tefilloh, he would cry.

He would frequently entreat, plead, even cry aloud, "We are, after all, the remnant of Yisroel, and we do not know why we were saved and others were not -- but we are the remnant of Yisroel. So watch over the remnants of Yisroel!"

Breakfast In The Yeshiva

Who could ever forget that famous breakfast in the Yeshiva?

The bochurim always valued every second of the Rosh Yeshiva's stay, and they tried to make the most of it by joining him for breakfast as well. One of my friends remarked that from every single action and word of the Rosh Hayeshiva he learned halochos and hashkofos that remain with him forever.

Each and every time I would serve him breakfast, he would begin the same way: "Thank you so much, and have you eaten yet?"

I would tell him that I had not yet managed to eat.

"Please join me," he would say.

Often, there was an entire group of bochurim who joined him, and he would speak about the importance of eating pas shacharis, Chazal's term for bread at breakfast. He would tell us many sayings of Chazal about eating pas shacharis, and he would exclaim with enthusiasm, "What a chesed Hakodosh Boruch Hu did with his creation -- one never tires of eating pas shacharis, even though one eats it every day, year after year. Still, one never tires of eating it once more!"

We saw clearly how breakfast was not just another meal for him; it was actually a fulfillment of Chazal's directive.

Often, the discussions around the breakfast table were directly addressed to an individual bochur and his needs. The Rosh Hayeshiva knew exactly what each bochur needed to hear. He knew exactly how to praise a bochur, with an enormous amount of ahavas Yisroel.

We also closely watched how the Rosh Yeshiva arranged his unusually busy schedule. Somehow, despite the infinite responsibilities he had, he was able to designate a fair share of time, energy, and interest to each and every person. No task was unimportant, no matter was pushed aside.

One day, we heard him discussing on the phone all the weddings he had to attend that evening. It turned out that on that particular evening he had to attend three weddings. One chosson was an orphan, the next one was the son of a talmid chochom, and the third was the son of a resident of Antwerp. He figured out how he could manage to attend all three weddings on the same night, even though one was in Yerushalayim, another was in Bnei Brak, and the third one somewhere else. We saw, beyond doubt, that here was a tzaddik, whose entire wish and will was to serve his Creator by being kind to his people.

The Rosh Hayeshiva

When he finished bentching after pas shacharis with the bochurim, the Rav took up his responsibilities as Rosh Hayeshiva. He was available to receive bochurim in his office and to discuss any matter. He was also available to the maggidei shiurim. All were grateful for his guidance.

Even when he was not in Eretz Yisroel, many bochurim who consulted with HaRav Aryeh Rottman, the menahel Ruchani of the Yeshiva, were told to wait until the Rosh Hayeshiva came to Eretz Yisroel to discuss their problems with him. On a daily basis Rabbi Rottman would call the Rosh Yeshiva overseas. In every sense, we felt Rav Kreiswirth's guiding hand even when he was abroad.

Many young bochurim were apprehensive about meeting with the Rosh Hayeshiva. "How could such a Torah giant understand my petty problems?" they wondered. "How could such a great tzaddik understand the mind and heartaches of someone as simple as myself?"

These younger bochurim were advised to go to the Rosh Hayeshiva and later decide whether he was able to understand them or not. The bochurim came out surprised. The Rosh Hayeshiva had an exceptional ability to penetrate and give every individual the feeling that his pain was felt and his concerns understood.

This personal, intense relationship generated great chizuk and strength. Every bochur felt that although the Rosh Yeshiva was one of the gedolei hador, he still cared about us personally and wanted to help us. This feeling will never be erased from my heart, nor the hearts of my friends.

Many outsiders would also come to the Yeshiva during the morning hours to consult with the Rosh Hayeshiva. As the master mechanech that he was, the Rosh Yeshiva would have us stay in the room so we could learn from his example how one should relate to baalebatim.

A Man Of Virtue

One could discern the Rosh Hayeshiva's deep levels of emunah during Bircas Kohanim. I simply cannot forget it.

As the Kohanim advanced to the front, the Rosh Hayeshiva would leave his usual place on the eastern wall of the shul and walk towards the center in front of the bimah. I could see the fiery enthusiasm on one hand, and yet the humility and earnestness on the other.

The Rosh Hayeshiva said it would have been worth all the money spent on plane tickets just to be part of the daily Bircas Kohanim in Eretz Yisroel. (Bircas Kohanim is said in the Diaspora only on yomim tovim.)

Actually, I could fill up a whole book with examples like these. It was obvious and undisputable, on every matter the Rosh Hayeshiva clearly realized that the Torah is the real essence of our life. In every detail he perceived the Yad Hashem.

One day, the Rosh Hayeshiva walked into the beis midrash and started his shiur. He began by offering thanks to Hakodosh Boruch Hu for healing him of an illness that had kept him bedridden for five weeks. He continued by adding that if the Beis Hamikdosh had still been around, he would have been obligated to bring a korbon Todah, a thanksgiving offering. He then proceeded to explain the passage in Shabbos 12B in which Rav Yishmoel ben Elisha accidentally moved a candle on Shabbos as he was reading by its light. Rav Yishmoel ben Elisha recorded it in his diary: "I, Yishmoel ben Elisha, was reading on Shabbos and tipped the candle slightly. When the Bais Hamikdosh will be rebuilt, I will bring a hefty korbon Chattos."

The Rosh Hayeshiva concluded by saying that we should also write diaries listing the korbonos that we will owe. Then his voice got very soft, and he told us he would let us in on a secret of his.

"Twenty-five years ago, I was seriously ill and I flew to Boston for a major operation. After I recovered, I began a diary and I wrote that when the Bais Hamikdosh will be rebuilt, I will have to bring a korbon Todah. Since then, I owe another korbon Todah, which I wrote down in my diary as well. And now, it's the third time."

We felt a sincere his'orerus toward belief in the coming of Moshiach. After all, the Rosh Hayeshiva had a diary in which he was writing for the times of Moshiach! This deep-seated belief in the coming of Moshiach was a fervent, sincere conviction.

What's Doing?

One day, a group of bochurim were sitting with the Rosh Yeshiva in his office. The door opened, and another bochur arrived to join the group. As he moved towards the Rosh Yeshiva, he noticed his friend.

"What's doing?" he asked him, and gave him a friendly slap on his back, the way bochurim often do.

The Rosh Yeshiva was terribly upset. "Why are you hitting him? It is forbidden to lift a hand up against another Jew!"

The Rosh Hayeshiva did not remind us of this fact just as a formality. Nor did he want to simply teach us a lesson. It was rather a spontaneous reaction to a real offense -- even though the slap was only meant as a joke. How could one raise a hand at another Jew, even in jest? And even if they were friends it was simply forbidden. It actually took the Rosh Hayeshiva time to regain his composure.

Many years later, I read of a similar incident involving Reb Chaim Brisker. When Reb Berel Soloveitchik was a small child, he went to visit his grandfather, Reb Chaim Brisker. Reb Chaim was sitting with Rav Yechezkel Abramsky and all of a sudden, Rav Yechezkel gave the little child a pinch on his cheek as a sign of affection. Reb Chaim was shocked.

"Little children are not bar mechilla, they cannot grant forgiveness!"

The gedolim live in a world where there was no pinching and no slapping on the back. This in itself reflects a more elevated way of life.

When the Rosh Yeshiva tested young cheder boys on their learning, he followed the same principle. Each year, the institutions of Yesodei HaTorah in Antwerp would arrange a public test for the children. Rav Kreiswirth was always afraid that he would ask a question that a child might not know, which could cause the child to be offended and embarrassed. After all, children cannot grant forgiveness!

So whenever he asked a child a question that the child did not know the answer to, he would immediately console the boy by saying, "Don't worry, I didn't know this answer either when I was your age!"

Summertime In The Yeshiva

Many of the bochurim who came to the Yeshiva's first- year program did not intend to continue learning for more than one year. Most of them had plans to return to chutz lo'oretz and go to college to learn a profession. Needless to say, their parents felt the same way.

Yet, over the course of the year, as the radiance of Torah began to penetrate, those plans seemed to fade into the background as their hashkofoh changed. Many bochurim decided they'd like to stay another year or two in the Yeshiva -- yet, their parents clearly objected.

When the Rosh Hayeshiva would arrive in Eretz Yisroel for the summer zman, a large part of his time was devoted to dealing with these issues. The Rosh Hayeshiva would speak with the bochur who was torn between the realization that Torah comes first and the temptation to go ahead with his original plans. It wasn't always easy -- often these conversations lasted hours and days, and it seemed that there was no end in sight. Yet the Rosh Hayeshiva had incredible influence on bochurim who needed encouragement and chizuk. And what's more, he also assumed the responsibility of speaking with the parents.

Often, he would think that a call to the parents was insufficient, so he would tell the bochur that he would soon be in the United States and would go to visit them personally. And that is exactly what he did. Imagine, an Odom Godol schlepping around, begging parents to grant their son another year of limud Torah al taharas hakodesh in Eretz Yisroel!

In many cases, the parents were convinced just by the fact that a godol beYisroel valued their son so much. In other cases, the Rosh Hayeshiva would tell them that their son's future livelihood could not possibly be harmed by learning another year in the Yeshiva, for that livelihood would come from the Supporter of all mankind.

One story has become legendary. One day, the Rosh Hayeshiva met with the parents of a very sincere, serious talmid who wanted to continue his learning. Rav Kreiswirth met with the bochur's parents, and after much back and forth discussion, the father of the bochur finally presented a realistic complication. His son had won a scholarship to a particular university, and if he would not attend that university in the upcoming year, he would lose the entire scholarship.

The Rosh Hayeshiva asked the father how much the scholarship was worth.

"It is a lot of money," the father replied. "It's five thousand dollars, and we do not want to lose it."

On the spot, the Rav reached into his pocket, pulled out a roll of bills, and began counting the money.

"Here," he said, and presented the money to the parents. "If five thousand dollars is preventing your son's return to the Yeshiva, then I am willing to give you the entire sum. The main thing is that your son should return to learn Torah!"

The parents were terribly embarrassed and they remained silent. They knew that the real problem was not money; actually, they were very wealthy. And here the Rosh Hayeshiva was prepared to give away his own money -- for such a cause.

The bochur returned to the Yeshiva the following year.

During summer zman we had a special opportunity to see how honest and straight the Rav was. The Rosh Yeshiva would only persuade a bochur to remain in Mercaz HaTorah -- his own Yeshiva -- if he felt it was in the bochur's best interest. He had specifically established the Yeshiva to be small for bochurim who need individual and constant direction. Yet if he felt that a bochur could do better in a larger or different Yeshiva (like Ponovezh, Mir, or Brisk), he would advise him accordingly.

His direction was tailor-made for the particular needs of each bochur, without any ulterior motives.

The Heiliger Rabbi Akiva Eiger!

At the end of the first Seder, the Rosh Hayeshiva would come up to the bais medrash and give a shiur for the entire Yeshiva.

As talmidim, we were certainly not capable of evaluating the true quality of his shiurim. After all, the greatest gedolim of Poland and Lithuania had testified to the Rosh Yeshiva's geonus.

But what Ahavas Torah we felt in his shiurim! It was incredible! He would quote a Mishna or a Braisa -- and, you saw, as clear as day, that he valued nothing else in his life besides daled amos shel halacha!

His ahavas haTorah was manifested in two distinct ways. First, his manner of explanation affirmed his personal love of Torah: his radiant countenance, his genuine smile -- he looked like a person who was experiencing a heavenly joy! Second, the very words he used attested to his enthusiasm. He would repeat a chidush of Rabbi Akiva Eiger as though it were an entirely new idea that no one else could ever think of!

He truly exemplified the statement that you should regard Torah as an entirely new entity each day of your life. Even when he repeated a well-known kushya, he repeated it with such zest and enjoyment, as if it were the most novel idea. One sensed that he enjoyed it not because it was his own chidush, but because it was Toras Hashem!

Everyone agreed that he had ruach chaim till the very end of his days. And we, as talmidim, were zoche to witness it.

Many years ago, the Rav was asked to speak at a convention. As usual, the organizer arranged for the Rav to be the last speaker, so that the crowd would stay until the end of the evening. As it happened, some of the speakers spoke too long, and when it was the Rav's turn to speak, he started by asking the people in attendance if they still had the patience to listen to him. He gave them the option of ending the evening right then and there. The audience, of course, wouldn't hear of ending the evening without the Rav's speech.

"Well, if you really want to hear what I have to say, then let us close our eyes and travel together with the words of the Yerushalmi . . . "

They travelled that road for more than an hour, and those who took that road claim they will never forget it!

Whenever the Rosh Hayeshiva began explaining a teirutz to Rabbi Akiva Eiger's kasha, he would do it with a sense of seriousness and earnestness.

"Oy, the heiliger Rabbi Akiva Eiger!"

And then, before actually divulging the great kasha of Rabbi Akiva Eiger, he would add: "Oy, the heiliger Rabbi Akiva Eiger asks . . . "

It was as if he literally felt the heiliger Rabbi Akiva Eiger standing in front of him. When he was explaining the kasha of Rabbi Akiva Eiger on the gilayon, he would always bring the Avnei Nezer that said, "I have not yet found a good teirutz to the kasha of Rabbi Akiva Eiger in the gilayon." Then, after this introduction, he would continue the explanation and offer his own teirutz. But at the end of the lesson, he would return to the initial question and repeat: "But the heiliger Rabbi Akiva Eiger asks, so therefore we have to understand . . . "

We got the message and actually felt the awe and seriousness with which one has to approach limud haTorah.

Sometimes, the Rosh Hayeshiva would repeat a vort and exclaim: "This is mamash Toras Emes!" Then, in private, he would say that he plans to repeat this in the Yeshiva Shel Ma'aloh. Everyone was astounded! After all, he didn't say this only in his old age, he even said it in his youth!


How could you ever forget the Rosh Hayeshiva's powerful shmuessim? They were unique. They were compelling. And most of all, they effected real changes.

At the beginning of every shmuess, the Rosh Hayeshiva would begin with his classic introduction: "I must emphasize that I am not telling you any of my own ideas. I am only repeating what our heiliger Chazal tell us."

Usually, the Rosh Hayeshiva didn't shower us with direct mussar or demands. Rather, he knew how to lift the talmid up to a higher level, respecting him all the while. In turn, the talmid felt he also had an obligation to rise above his present level of behavior.

At the beginning of each new zman, when many new talmidim would arrive, the Rosh Hayeshiva would begin his drosho by quoting Brochos 63b, the braisa about the opening of the Yeshiva in Yavne. He would begin: "Why must we search for new droshos at the beginning of the zman. Let us see what Chazal tell us about the opening of a Yeshiva."

Then he would analyze the entire Braisa and emphasize a main point of the gemora, which is the commentary on the words "Vehoyoh kol mevakesh Hashem yeitzei le'Ohel Moed, and all those who seek Hashem should go to the Ohel Moed."

"Talmidei chachomim who go from city to city and from country to country to learn Torah are called mevakshei Hashem. The gemora states that talmidim who go from city to city and from country to country to learn Torah are called mevakshei Hashem because they want to find the place that's best for them to learn Torah and to move upwards. In fact, they are even willing to leave their homes and birthplaces and go to a particular place in order to "shteig" -- this is really mevakshei Hashem.

"What a wonderful and glorious title this is! And you, the talmidim of the Yeshiva, you are all the mevakshei Hashem that the gemora talks about. After all, you left your homes in Chutz Lo'oretz, and came to Eretz Yisroel to learn. And why did you do all this? Because you felt that you could learn better here! You are all mevakshei Hashem. There was no other reason for coming to Eretz Yisroel except to learn with greater hasmodoh."

At this point, he would interject the reminder: "And for sure you didn't come here to go to . . . , or to do . . . "

By making the talmidim aware of their real status as mevakshei Hashem, the Rosh Hayeshiva was able to elevate the students. They had to respond in kind.

Each Yeshiva has its particular issues. Our Yeshiva was no different, and there were certain problems that required special attention. When the Rosh Hayeshiva became aware of these weak points, he always found the appropriate words from the Talmud Bavli, Yerushalmi, or other sources in Chazal, to address them. It was absolutely brilliant! He didn't have to give us straightforward, direct mussar. He delivered the message through the words of Chazal.

In his shmuessim, the Rosh Hayeshiva would also stress the importance of realizing the great challenge we are facing. He always taught us that Hakodosh Boruch Hu is trying to speak to us in all of the nisyonos we go through.

When the issue of drafting Yeshiva bochurim into the army came up, the Rosh Hayeshiva told us that the voice of Hakodosh Boruch Hu is telling us that we are not learning Torah the way we should! This is not the kind of limud Torah that Hakodosh Boruch Hu wants, so therefore he is threatening us that we might lose the opportunity of learning Torah altogether. If we would be mischazeik in Limud HaTorah, the threat would dissipate.

Ruach Chaim

Just where did this magnificent character stem from? The Rav wrote an article about his father, Lidmus Beis Abba -- About the Image of my Father's Home.

What exactly did the Rav write about his father?

"In addition to all the noble attributes the Chachomim list, he also excelled in his deep-seated emunah. It was truly unique. His stalwart belief in the words of Chazal was not only analytical or intellectual (the kind that cannot safeguard or strengthen the individual even when the chips are down, by elevating him to a higher spiritual level). On the contrary! It was a very real, tangible emunah that he felt in the very words!

"In this light, he perceived the entire world."

This was one of the things that we clearly saw by the Rav himself -- his ruach chaim, the ruach for which the gedolim of his time praised him even in his youth. This ruach was a ner leraglov until the end of his days.

Small wonder that the Bavli and the Yerushalmi were shagur al piv at all times. When we have a clear, deep-seated emunah that the words of Torah should lead our lives -- then can we understand what Chazal meant when they said, "one who forgets one word of his learning, deserves death." Even one missing word prevents a person from knowing how to lead his life according to the Torah.

The Loss Of A Leader

So much more could be said about our Rosh Hayeshiva -- our personal treasure.

Many bochurim used to accompany the Rosh Hayeshiva to daven at the Kosel Hamaaravi. Yet at some point, "new activities" at the Kosel interfered with the Rosh Yeshiva's davening. He went to the Aish HaTorah Yeshiva -- right opposite the Kosel -- and asked them for permission to daven there. (From the windows or the porch of Aish HaTorah, one can see the Kosel.)

After he finished davening Shacharis, he stayed another few hours answering all kinds of personal questions that were posed to him. He loved kiruv rechokim.

Shabbos afternoon was never a time of rest for the Rosh Hayeshiva. Many bochurim would come to visit him on Shabbos, and they joined him in his distinctive meals. His seuda shlishis was so unforgettable that many bochurim would walk from the Yeshiva in Talpiot all the way to Har Nof -- a two hour walk -- just to be with the Rosh Hayeshiva. The zemiros were uplifting. The atmosphere was supernal. It was an experience that none of us will forget.

Yom Tov in Eretz Yisroel is only one day (as it says in the Torah). People who still consider Chutz lo'oretz their place of residence keep two days. As Rabbi Kreiswirth kept two days, his Succah on Yom Tov was always packed to its capacity. Twenty, thirty, and even forty bochurim were zoche to experience a new flavor of Yom Tov in the seudas.

Simchas Torah was another time when the Rosh Hayeshiva's house was completely full. In the Rosh Hayeshiva's final years, it became too difficult for him to come to the Yeshiva for Hakofos, so the bochurim came to him instead. Many bochurim crowded into the Rosh Hayeshiva's home, despite the fact that it was hard to accommodate all of them. The prime concern was always for the welfare of the talmidim -- not for himself.

We were truly zoche to have him as a mashpia. He affected our lives forever. Whatever hashpoa we did get from him, it was for a lifetime. We managed to imbibe the pure wellsprings of Torah from a giant of giants, and a godol of gedolim. We were zoche to be called the talmidim of HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth, Rosh Yeshivas Merkaz HaTorah.

Oy! Mi yitein lonu temuroso!


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