Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

14 Tishrei 5765 - September 29, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network











HaRav Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman Visits London for a Day
by S. Bruchi

"Am Yisroel has survived throughout the generations only in the merit of the Oral Torah, for which it has made great sacrifices and from which its entire existence stems. Nothing remains of those who kept only the Written Torah and not the Oral Torah, groups like the Sadducees and the Karaites. Am Yisroel made great sacrifices for the Torah and its survival, learning Torah under adverse conditions and with mesirus nefesh, studying the Oral Torah in Torah halls, for this is the entire secret of its existence. Therefore all of us must take part in maintaining the Torah and sustaining its scholars, for this alone will guarantee Klal Yisroel's survival," said HaRav Shteinman during the central address he delivered on Monday evening at a large public gathering held in an enormous tent erected in London's Golders Green neighborhood.

This was the pinnacle of HaRav Shteinman's brief visit in London early this week to strengthen Yiddishkeit, Torah institutes and kollelim in Eretz Hakodesh and to provide chizuk for chareidi Jewry in the city. Setting out Monday morning with HaRav Dov Landau, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Slobodka, and HaRav Yaakov Hillel, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Ahavas Sholom, the entourage, which also included HaRav Moshe Shteinman and HaRav Sholom Meir Yungerman, was back in Eretz Yisroel by late Tuesday.

When the plane landed at Heathrow Airport hundreds of London residents were waiting to greet the gedolei Torah. The convoy rolled out with police cars clearing a lane of traffic to the central Sadigora Beis Medrash, where they were received by HaRav Elchonon Halperin, roshei yeshivos, rabbonim, communal activists, benefactors and leading public figures. The rov of the beis medrash, the son of the Admor of Sadigora, took the podium to welcome the entourage of gedolei Torah headed by HaRav Shteinman, HaRav Landau and HaRav Hillel, saying the visit would be sure to have a profound effect on London that would last throughout the new year.

At an enormous tent erected nearby, throngs of boys from talmudei Torah and their parents greeted the distinguished visitors and waited eagerly for HaRav Shteinman to speak. The Rosh Yeshiva said that according to Chazal the Torah is called "reishis" and yaldei Yisroel, who are also "reishis," are the guarantors of the Torah's existence, for the world stands on "hevel pihem shel tinokos shel beis rabbon." Every child must know he upholds the world and every child must aspire to do everything in his power to be a talmid chochom, to grow in Torah and to aspire to this alone, for the future of Am Yisroel depends on it. Afterwards the children and their parents filed past the Rosh Yeshiva to receive his warm blessings for a "shonoh tovoh."

The entourage then continued on to the home of Dayan HaRav Ehrentreu, where a chizuk gathering was held for all of London's dayonim, rabbonim and activists, who discussed various problems currently affecting the Torah world.

...where HaRav Shteinman met with England's leading roshei yeshivos, rabbonim and dayanim to discuss topical issues. Toward evening thousands of Jews streamed in from different parts of the country, filling the large tent with a mosaic of Chassidim and Litvaks, Ashkenazim and Sephardim, yeshivas and Chassidic courts, young and old, who had come to participate in the central event of the visit, a his'orerus gathering in preparation for Yom Kippur. The dais was graced by all of London's rabbonim and dayonim, notably HaRav Yosef Tzvi Dunner, rov of the Hisachdus Hayirei'im. The speakers were introduced by HaRav Aharon Dovid Dunner, who extended Maran HaRav Eliashiv's blessings for the success of HaRav Shteinman's journey to strengthen London Jewry and Torah institutions in Eretz Hakodesh.

Last week, when HaRav Shteinman came to Jerusalem to deliver a talk at Yeshivas Mir, he paid a visit to HaRav Eliashiv, outlining his plans for the trip.

HaRav Aharon Dovid Dunner said that HaRav Chaim Kanievsky told him that two years ago that HaKodosh Boruch Hu brought down the World Trade Center to awaken us and to destroy the pursuit of materialism and "last year He awakened us when the entire Torah world was mustered to stir Heavenly mercy for the recuperation of Maran HaRav Eliashiv, shlita, thereby awakening the hearts of Am Yisroel to Our Father in Heaven. Now we will awaken all of those gathered here by listening to the words of HaGaon Hagodol R' Aharon Leib Shteinman shlita, who will rouse the hearts of Am Yisroel to Our Father in Heaven, thereby awakening us to do teshuvoh. And we, the residents of London, will thank the Rosh Yeshiva for taking the trouble to travel to London with mesirus nefesh to strengthen Am Yisroel in the Diaspora."

The assembled crowd waited expectantly for HaRav Shteinman to speak about the Jewish world's obligation during this difficult period, which he did as reported above.

Afterwards HaRav Landau discussed how the teki'os shofar continue to awaken Klal Yisroel to do teshuvoh by performing more mitzvas and ma'asim tovim, of which the foremost is upholding the Torah-- studying it and sustaining it--and HaKodosh Boruch Hu demands that Am Yisroel collectively as well as each and every individual mobilize for the battle to fight even beyond his strength. At this critical juncture in time Hakodosh Boruch Hu is calling upon everyone to go beyond his abilities to rescue the Torah and perpetuate its existence, he said.

HaRav Hillel spoke about the mesirus nefesh shown by HaRav Shteinman and HaRav Landau, who traveled many miles to bring the klal the merit of supporting the Torah. The supporters of Torah have always been an eitz chaim and this is definitely a tremendous merit for all to be written in the Book of Life, he said.

HaRav Landau also gave a shiur at a large gathering of Yeshivas Slobodka alumni joined by yeshiva students from throughout London.

Tuesday morning, after the home of the Chen-Tov family, HaRav Shteinman's hosts, filled with Jews coming to consult with the Rosh Yeshiva privately, a large meeting of activists and distinguished figures was held to discuss how to help bnei Torah in Eretz Hakodesh. During the meeting HaRav Shteinman electrified the participants with a talk in which he cited Chazal's teaching about Ben Kish "who rapped on the doors of tefilloh." According to the Gra, HaRav Shteinman explained, there are two doors, two gateways. "One gate in Heaven above and another gate in the heart below, and when one raps on the doors below, the doors above are opened. And when the gate to the heart is opened the gate to Heaven stands opposite. During these days when we beg for the Gates of Heaven to open we must remember that only by opening the door below, i.e. the heart, will the gates above open. Therefore we must engage in chessed and ma'asim tovim as much as possible, most of all maintaining the Torah and its scholars." At that point HaRav Shteinman suddenly choked and began to weep before his listeners and was unable to continue his heartfelt talk.

He was followed by HaRav Landau and HaRav Hillel, who encouraged the major benefactors in their efforts to support the Torah world in Eretz Hakodesh.

El Al made special preparations to host the Rosh Yeshiva fittingly as he left on Monday. Last week arrangements were made in coordination with the Israel Airports Authority to simplify travel for the entourage and to spare HaRav Shteinman any unnecessary inconvenience.

El Al representatives greeted the Rosh Yeshiva at the Shalom Gate, where a special ground crew attendant from the Shalom Service was on hand to facilitate the check-in arrangements, security check and passport inspection. The entourage included MK Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz, MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni and Bnei Brak Deputy Mayor Rabbi Yaakov Asher.

While the Rosh Yeshiva's car was parked at Shalom Gate for a few minutes, numerous workers approached HaRav Shteinman to receive his blessing. After check-in and passport inspections, the Rosh Yeshiva's car and his entourage drove up to the plane, where they were greeted by the captain and the flight crew.

The arrangements with El Al and the Airports Authority were orchestrated by R' Yochanan Chayut, coordinator of El Al religious passengers' service. Mr. David Manker, a veteran ground crew employee at El Al, handled all of the administrative and logistical arrangements.


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