Adapted from the book Darchei HaChaim which
includes guidance and hashkofoh in the Torah
lifestyle, the basics of chinuch for our times, and
tips heard and recorded from HaRav Michel Yehuda
Darchei HaChaim includes articles, instructions and
guidance for parents and educators, disseminators of Torah
and bnei yeshivos. For many years, HaRav Michel Yehuda
Lefkowitz has served as a fortress of strength for rosh
yeshivas and disseminators of Torah, parents, educators,
and the general community of bnei Torah, in Israel and the
Diaspora, teaching daas Torah and pure
hashkofoh for all areas of life and giving guidance in
the chinuch path handed down from generation to generation,
all benefiting from his advice and resources. The
sefer contains hundreds of instructions and briefings
in all areas of life, touching on many very relevant
educational problems of our times, all directly from one of
the outstanding gedolim of the generation.
Each section stands on its own, so there is no need for a
summary of the last part.
Be Happy—in the First Year
Concerning the question of how to make one's wife happy in
the first year, one should explain to her how great is the
joy when the sound of the husband's Torah reverberates in the
home, since they thereby become worthy of the Presence of the
Shechina and success in Torah learning. Let her enjoy
the sweet sounds of Torah.
"Kinas Sofrim Tarbeh Chochmoh"
In our day we cannot judge the correct balance in this
regard. The true path to follow is therefore to be: "tomim
tihiyeh im Hashem Elokecho." That means learning with
tranquility, patience and dedication, learning in order to
grow and go higher, where nothing else interests you besides
the learning. That is the way to come under the yoke of Torah
and its toil, thereby meriting to reach very high levels.
We see that in a yeshiva within a large community, there are
a few who generally stand out as being destined for
greatness. Who are they? Those who put all their efforts and
attention into Torah learning, who sit contentedly and toil
to clarify a sugya, painstakingly attempting to
understand every detail according to their abilities, rather
than exhausting their strengths in shouts and arguments, and
the like. Their learning is through negotiations with a
chavrusa, clarifying things together, out of a desire
to learn from the other, and then clarifying and explaining
to others in a cordial way.
This is the correct conduct to follow, and a person can
habituate himself to it without much difficulty and stress.
He should grasp onto that mode and make it a part of his
being, one seder after another, day after day, until
he merits greatness.
The greatest deterrent, and the reason for lack of success in
learning, is when a person starts measuring himself against
others and feels jealousy. Even though our Sages said
(Bovo Basra 21:1) that, "When scholars vie, wisdom
mounts," we are not capable of finding the right balance in
this regard, and very negative consequences ensue from it, so
we have to be cautious. Everyone should rather keep his eye
on his own situation, and try to make the most of his
opportunities to learn Torah according to his own
capabilities, without measuring himself against other
We have to take care to keep competition away from yeshivas.
Although our Sages said, "When scholars vie, wisdom mounts,"
in my opinion, in our day and age there is no one capable of
reaching that level of constructive competitiveness, and we
have to watch carefully and make sure that the bochurim
are talking to each other. Is each trying to understand
the other in learning—which is the sign of good
middos — or does each of them right away look to
put down his partner's words, so that as soon as he hears his
partner speak, his bad middos come out?
Keeping to Times
A maggid shiur in a yeshiva was offered the honor of
sandek, and this would have entailed his being ten
minutes late for his daily shiur at the yeshiva. The
Rov said: "There is no being late for a shiur to be a
Question: A rebbe who always arrives late—
should he be dismissed or have it deducted from his
Answer: If it is in his power to come on
time—you have to treat him as would any employer. When
a worker arrives late for work, it is deducted from his
salary, since he does not have to be late and could get a
Question: A rebbe in cheder who accidentally
woke up late, and got up at 8, how should he proceed in terms
of the mitzva of davening shacharis?
Answer: We know this from the Chazon Ish who came
across such an occurrence, and had such an incident, and he
told the rebbe to go and teach his talmidim. The
incident happened with a rebbe in a cheder in
Hishtadlus in Parnossoh
Question: Is a person obligated to make efforts for
future parnossoh, at a time when their situation is
stable, but in the future they will be faced with large
Answer: There is no obligation to do hishtadlus
for the future. When I learned in the kollel Toras
Eretz Yisroel in Petach Tikva, the head shochet by the
name of HaRav Shimon Horovitz would give out the chaluka
every Thursday, and he would give out a small amount. At
the beginning of each week, he would not work on getting the
support at all, but on Tuesdays he would stand on the steps
of the Great Synagogue in Petach Tikva, and with great
difficulty raise the money.
Once he got the idea of buying a lottery ticket. He
accompanied me on my trip from the kollel to Bnei
Brak, and I came in with him to the Chazon Ish, and he asked
him what his opinion was on buying a lottery ticket.
The Chazon Ish answered him like this: There is no need to
show HaKodosh Boruch Hu how to bring the parnossoh,
from which pipeline to send his aid. At all events,
making efforts for parnossoh —that is necessary.
The hishtadlus should be for what one needs for the
purposes of life, and not for luxuries.
Faith in Divine Providence
Question: What point in emunah is it important
to grasp on to in our times, for which it is written, "a
tzaddik should live on his faith" (Chabakuk
To which the Rov responded: "Faith in Divine Providence, that
every single detail is run by Hashgocho protis. The
Chovos Halevovos, in the section on "Trust in G- d,"
says that whatever a person is involved in and whatever he is
successful in, he has to know that everything comes from
Hashem. And if he tries to develop and improve any more, he
decreases the dimension of bitochon.
There is a curse from Hakodosh Boruch Hu, that
"bezei'as apecho tochal lechem." This curse has to be
fulfilled, but the bread does not come as a result of the
sweat he has put in.
Publicity Harms the Purity of a Person's Soul and his
As you well know, from experience and in practice, we always
strive to be one of those who merit to live lives of
haznei'a leches (modesty), that is, not to put
ourselves at the forefront, because being public can cause
harm to befall a person and, chas vecholiloh, can have
an adverse effect on the purity of the soul and the
The surest way for a person to grow and reach greater
spiritual attainments is to keep his ways hidden as much as
possible and not arouse other's jealousy [from a letter in
Once I happened to hear from HaRav ——- who said
that he had heard that the Vilna Gaon had said about himself
that were it not that he had become well-known, he would have
achieved much greater achievements than he had, and it is
sufficient for us to grasp from this, even if what is
narrated is not the main source, that it is an important
On another occasion, I heard from a firsthand source, that
HaRav Abba Berman, when he was a little boy, had gone with
his father to see the Chofetz Chaim. The Chofetz Chaim spoke
with the boy and was most enthusiastic about him. He blessed
him, and told his father that he would not reveal the boy's
greatness, and he told them the above story about the Gaon of
Vilna. (Letters from talmidim)
Advice to a Talmid who was having Trouble Understanding
There was an incident with a talmid in a yeshiva
ketana who was having enormous difficulty understanding
his learning, so that he would have to review time and time
again even the simplest concept until he grasped it. Though
he did not appear to have any problems in terms of his
skills, he was still having a lot of trouble comprehending
So the decision was made with the father to approach the Rov,
who perhaps might be able to refer the boy for educational
counselling to a professional, who could evaluate his problem
so that he could be treated.
But the Rov said not to refer him to a councilor but rather
to take a clever avreich who was skilled at teaching
to learn with the talmid—even for half an hour a
day— according to the following program: Initially, the
avreich was to teach the talmid, even a few
times over, until he understood it. Then he was to ask the
boy to repeat the matter and explain it to the avreich.
They would keep on learning, following this pattern.
Then, as time went on the talmid would make progress
in his studies. And indeed, that's how it was.
How can a Person Realize what his Mission is?
The Rov said: "Everyone needs to carry out his mission
faithfully and completely. If only I would have the ability
to fulfill my role as teacher of Torah properly!"
One of the listeners asked: How can a person know what his
mission is? The Rov replied: "By the way HaKodosh Boruch
Hu revolves a person and places him in a certain
position. That's how he can recognize the role Hashem has
assigned for him."
Someone else asked: "In regard to an avreich who
learns in a kollel and is offered a position of
disseminating Torah, how can he know whether to take up that
offer or stay on learning in kollel?"
The Rov replied: "As long as he feels that there is a benefit
in his staying on and learning in kollel and he is not
squeezed for parnossoh, he should stay in