Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

15 Kislev 5767 - December 6, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Chareidi Politicians and Public Servants: Where Are They Today?
And all those who occupy themselves with the needs of the community faithfully . . .

by Betzalel Kahn

Part 2

Rabbi Shlomo Lorincz, Rabbi Yehuda Meir Abramowitz, Rabbi Menachem Porush, Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Lapidot and HaRav Dovid Zicherman are part of a long list of chareidi askonim in Eretz Yisroel. During their lives (may they live and be well until 120) full of public service they witnessed endless incidents, stories and so on.

We have tried to focus on some of the most interesting personalities from past generations. These are people who were once at the peak of communal service but have now left, for one reason or another.


The War over the Children's Neshomos

Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Lapidot

The residents of settlements in the northern Negev were outraged. Government officials arrived at the moshavim of Eshbol, Brosh and others and tried to convince the new immigrants to withdraw their children from religious education institutions. The new immigrants, armed with the yiras Shomayim which they had brought with them, refused, as expected. The officials decided to use a clever ploy. They assembled the parents and attempted to force them to transfer their children to the then-newly-opened secular school (this took place about forty years ago) in one of the nearby moshavim.

Everyone was agitated. Suddenly the Education Ministry officials brought a sefer Torah and arranged an oath- taking ceremony with the parents swearing to take their children out of the religious schools. The new immigrants to Israel, who had left various other countries behind, did not anticipate such behavior from government officials in the Jewish State.

Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Lapidot, one of the chief activists at the time, narrates: "We took the group of parents to the rov of Ramleh, HaRav Yitzchok Abuchatzeira ztvk'l, who was horrified to hear of the cunning deed. He immediately set out for the moshavim, organized a large public tefilloh there, released the parents from their oath and calmed them down. During the same period a stormy demonstration was held opposite the Education Ministry in Jerusalem. One of the activists, Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz, was beaten by the police until he bled."

Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Lapidot, better known as "Lapidess," looks back from his home in Switzerland. He sighs when he thinks about how Jews were forcibly removed from Yiddishkeit, a real shmad, and about the battles against pathologists and missionaries.

As a child, Rabbi Lapidot studied in the Satmar talmud Torah in Jerusalem's Katamon neighborhood. At the age of nine he moved to the Yavneh talmud Torah and he later learned in yeshivas Tiferes Zvi and Chevron. He then had a chavrusa with HaRav Rephael Soloveitchik. After his marriage he moved to Europe, devoting many years to Torah activities and rescuing children in a number of countries, including some which were hostile to Israel.

Today he is a travel agent in Switzerland and wistfully remembers his turbulent past in Eretz Yisroel. However, like many others, he is also involved in many kiruv- related activities today.

He emigrated to Europe after, he says, "the Zionists threatened to kill me." Lapidot traveled to France as a young man in an attempt to destroy the Jewish Agency's `shmad machine' directed against the youth from Morocco who were graduates of Otzar HaTorah and Bais Yaakov. The children were sent directly from France to leftist kibbutzim in Israel.

"I went into the aliyah camps in France to explain to the olim what awaited them in Israel. Several times a counselor pulled out a knife or a pistol, and warned me that there would be no problem to finish someone off in Europe without leaving a trace," he recounts.

When Jews emigrated from Arab countries they tried to coerce them to go on to Israel, but he tried to get them to go to any place but Israel, on the grounds of `freedom of choice.' Even the government officials could not counter that. However the threats persisted.

He also had to struggle against the agents of the Israeli establishment who did not themselves believe in their mission.

"One of the aliyah clerks, with whom I had difficult battles, was sent to Rome by the Jewish Agency. I was fighting with him to win over the Jews who had escaped from Russia. I helped them immigrate to other countries and I tried to maintain cordial work relations with him. We did that for three years. I had connections with many countries that the Jews were immigrating to. While he was still a Jewish Agency employee, he asked me for a favor. `Since you have connections, could you help me immigrate to one of them? I want to leave Israel.' I reacted by ruthlessly attacking him. `Aren't you ashamed of yourself? You've been telling me for three years that all the Jews who immigrate to other countries are spineless, and you come to ask for my aid to do so yourself? You're no Zionist.' In the end even this great Zionist left the country. Years later I met him as a yored and we had a fiery argument."

The period of the establishment of the State and the years immediately following it were a time of extensive work against the irreligious establishment which was trying to uproot Judaism. There were also battles against missionary organizations which worked out of official Christian institutions. Many times orphans were brought there, who had often been referred by a Welfare Ministry clerk. Much was done to get the children out of these dangerous places. However removing a child from a missionary monastery was only permitted with an administrative order of the director, or the legal advisor of the Welfare Ministry, who had determined that the Christian institution did not suit the Jewish child's upbringing, after which a court order could be issued to take the children out. It was not only children under the care of the Welfare Ministry who found themselves there, but also the children of senior political figures who wanted their children to master other languages.

One day Lapidot arrived at the Saint Joseph Monastery on Haneviim Street in Jerusalem, opposite the place where the Ziv funeral home once stood. (Incidentally, a large demonstration protesting against the missionaries took place there in the Sixties and more than one hundred yeshiva bochurim were arrested.) There were a number of Jewish children in that monastery and Lapidot arrived with a court order to release two of them. The monastery house-mother, who spoke German, began a theological discussion with him. He promptly clarified, "I came here for a specific purpose and not to argue. Bring me the children."

The woman tried to stall for time, when suddenly a mentally retarded Arab cleaner appeared. "The woman began to accuse me of attacking the cleaner and injuring him. She called the police. The police arrived and, because of the sensitivity of the situation, occurring as it did in an institution with diplomatic immunity, although I insisted that I was innocent, he said, `Lapidot, I have to take you in for an investigation.'

"All the way there I was thinking, Ribono Shel Olom how do I get out of this? It was a miracle that the evening before I had fallen and bruised myself. When we reached the police station I requested that the investigators get a police doctor to examine the injuries which the cleaner had done to me, and also to check the cleaner for injuries that I was supposed to have done to him. Of course, after the examination my innocence was established. I insisted that a criminal file be opened against the cleaner. A clerk from the Foreign Ministry arrived, someone from the General Security Services, and asked me to withdraw the complaint, which I naturally refused to do.

"This story let me to a conclusion. What kind of Jewish State protects Arabs working for missionaries to help Christian sects baptize Jewish children?" Lapidot says.

Another incident took place in Arad. A group of university educated people arrived from France and started working in the petrochemical factories in the area. They were religious Jews who wanted a religious educational system. The then- deputy-education-minister, Michael Chazani of the National Religious Party, was of great assistance in bringing the school into being, despite the severe disagreements between him and the chareidi community about Sheirut Leumi. The head of the Arad local council in those days was Avraham (Beiga) Shochat, later finance minister.

"I provided a lot of help with the registration for and establishment of the school," explains Lapidot. "The first year, around sixty children registered. But at that point, at the beginning of the Seventies, Beiga Shochat began to threaten the parents that whoever sent their children to a religious school would be fired. Meaning: your job or your religion.

"The head of the State Religious System in those days was Yosef Ba-Gad. I arrived together with him and one of the people from Pe'ilim, Rabbi Yosef Rabby. Shochat came in and demanded the closure of the school. I couldn't restrain myself and I said, `It's not the early Fifties any more when you could threaten parents with starvation!' Beiga retorted, `Do you know who I am?' I answered him curtly and disrespectfully about his family background. (Shochat is Levi Eshkol's son-in-law.) Unfortunately Shochat was successful in his battle, and some of the parents returned to France. Some of them felt that if that was how the State operated it was preferable to live in France. The objective of Zionism was the destruction of Yiddishkeit, so we fought ferociously against those treacherous trends."

"I am telling these stories," adds Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Lapidot, "so that future generations will know that we tried to fight back against the enormous shmad which was perpetrated against the Jewish people. Everyone can decide the implications for himself, what he is able to contribute for this war. It's true that the coercion today is not the same as it once was. I have a chareidi nephew, a scientist, who lives in Israel and travels to Europe every week, because dozens of places where he could have been employed in Israel wanted him to work on Shabbos. Outside Israel they show consideration for his Yiddishkeit but in Israel they are sensitive neither towards him nor his Yiddishkeit."

Lapidot finishes off our long conversation with an incredible story. A boy, originally from Iran, arrived in Eretz Yisroel and the aliyah officials sent him to Kfar Silver. The boy's legal guardian was his uncle who owned a factory in Jaffa. "I arrived at his house and got him to sign a document in which he gave me power of attorney to take his nephew out of Kfar Silver. I managed to get inside, with some friends, through a gap in the fence. We took the child out secretly but then we were discovered. We escaped in a taxi which was waiting for us, being hotly pursued for a long time, which nearly caused us to swerve off the road. Boruch Hashem, we were eventually successful, with the child reaching a frum institution. Today he is a rosh mesivta in one of the important yeshivos in Eretz Yisroel," Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Lapidot ends his story, with his voice choked from tears.

The Chinuch Atzmai Strike Which Was Brought to an End

Rabbi Menachem Porush

Financial difficulties in the Chinuch Atzmai, it turns out, are not new. This splendid institution already suffered from such difficulties more than thirty years ago. A lack of government funding led to teachers' salaries not being paid on time, with frequent strikes erupting.

Rabbi Menachem Porush, at that time one of the representatives of Agudas Yisroel in the Knesset, met with the then-education minister Yigal Allon. The two had a long common history, going back to the time that R' Menachem's father Rabbi Moshe Porush zt'l had founded a Torah school in Yavniel, and Allon's father had battled the school's continued existence. Years later, Allon's father admitted, "It's too bad that we fought the avreich from Jerusalem. Ultimately his students remained faithful to our people and who knows where those who didn't study with him are now?"

Rabbi Menachem Porush took advantage of this story at that time, the mid-Seventies, to end the painful strikes in the Chinuch Atzmai due to salaries going unpaid. The backdrop to this situation was the low budget which the Education Ministry gave to the Chinuch Atzmai. The school teachers of the time were paid according to the average number of pupils in each class. While the state system had an average of around thirty-two pupils, there were only between sixteen and eighteen in the Chinuch Atzmai, causing the education ministry to pay low sums for teachers' salaries.

"I arrived at the meeting with Yigal Allon and I reminded him of what his father had said about mine, and added that he now had the opportunity to put right his father's wrong and be of assistance to Chinuch Atzmai. Allon requested that I find a way to solve the problem. I told him that teachers in the state system in kibbutzim and moshavim were receiving a regular salary, despite the fact that there were an average of about eighteen pupils in a class. I suggested that if that situation existed in the kibbutzim, there was no reason that the Chinuch Atzmai should not make the same payment for an identical number of pupils. Allon was apprehensive of the secular reaction to his having saved the Chinuch Atzmai. I responded by suggesting that a delegation of gedolei Yisroel would meet with him to persuade him. Allon would bring senior officials from his ministry with him so that they would likewise be convinced.

"And that's exactly what happened. One fine day Morenu HaRav Shach ztvk'l and the Slonimer Rebbe ztvk'l, those who bore the burden of the ultimate responsibility for the Chinuch Atzmai in those days, arrived at Allon's office. Initially Rav Shach refused to come, but he finally agreed after I explained to him that it would save Chinuch Atzmai. It was an extremely powerful meeting with HaRav Shach speaking at length about the parsha of the week. The end result was that the education minister informed us that he would give us an answer within a few days. The response, of course, was positive. The strikes in the Chinuch Atzmai came to an end, with everything returning to normal," relates Rabbi Porush.

Rabbi Menachem Porush was born about ninety years ago in Jerusalem. He learned at Yeshivas Eitz Chaim as a youth. He was involved in communal responsibilities from an early age, including writing thousands of articles which were published in many Jewish newspapers throughout the world. He was a permanent correspondent about the goings-on in Eretz Yisroel to chareidi papers in the Diaspora between the years 5692 (1932)-5698 (1938). In 5709 (1949) he set up Kol Yisroel, a newspaper which he edited until 5723 (1963). Concurrently, he was also the editor of Hamevaser from 5710 (1950)-5711 (1951). In the same year he founded the Agudas Yisroel Network of Day-Care Centers and in 5713 (1953) was one of the founders and administrators of the Chinuch Atzmai. In 5733 (1973) he created Kiryas HaYeled in Jerusalem. In 5714 (1954) he was chosen to be a member of the central administration of Agudas Yisroel. A year later he was elected chairman and in 5729 (1969) he was chosen to be the representative of Agudas Yisroel on the Jerusalem Municipality, serving an entire term as Teddy Kollek's vice mayor. Three years later he became the deputy chairman of the National Center of Agudas Yisroel. He served as an MK for Agudas Yisroel for nine consecutive terms from the Fourth Knesset until the Thirteenth, and was sent to participate in many committees. He even served as Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Welfare during two terms.

Rabbi Menachem Porush had many meetings with prime ministers and other important figures, not unlike many other chareidi MKs in the past. Sometimes the meetings were difficult, sensitive and provided no answers — although there were some success stories.

One of the cases he remembers was when Menachem Begin brought the decision of whether to annex the Golan Heights to Israel, before the Knesset. HaRav Shach led the decision of the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah to oppose Begin's proposal.

"Rabbi Shlomo Lorincz and I voted as the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah had instructed us. After the vote we left the hall in the direction of the Knesset cafeteria. Menachem Begin approached us angrily. He spoke to us very harshly but we told him that we are emissaries of maranan verabonon and we had done what we had been directed to do by HaRav Shach. Begin had no choice but to control himself," Rabbi Porush related recently.

On another occasion Begin invited Rabbi Porush and Rabbi Lorincz to two separate meetings at his Tel Aviv office. "Begin said to me that since both the government and the Knesset had already resolved to implement Sheirut Leumi for women, he had no option but to carry the decision out. He said that he would wait for our reaction for a few days," Rabbi Porush reveals to us. "In response I told him that I feel exactly like R' Amnon of Magentza zy'a, at the famous account of how he came to compose Unesaneh Tokef. When Begin heard that, he began to sing loudly with a Litvish pronunciation, the awe- inspiring tefilloh from the Yomim Noraim: Unesaneh tokef kedushas hayom, ki hu noroh ve'oyom.

"In spite of that, Begin asked for our answer within a few days; an answer which never came. The topic was dropped from the public agenda and did not surface again during that period."

Out of all the prime ministers with whom he was in the Knesset (the truth is that Rabbi Porush has been with them all, from Ben-Gurion until now) he feels that it was Yitzchok Rabin who could be categorized as a tinok shenishboh, who knew nothing at all about Yiddishkeit. He was a kibbutznik who grew up completely removed from Torah, and he conceded the most important decision.

"One morning I heard from the media that Rabin had decided to transfer the responsibility for the security of Kever Rochel in Beis Lechem to the Palestinians. I was flabbergasted by that and I requested to meet with him urgently. During the meeting I burst out crying and Rabin asked if it was such a terrible pronouncement as to make me shed tears there. I replied that Kever Rochel is the place where Jews go to daven whenever they are in trouble. I then called for an end to the meeting. I was unable to continue speaking through my sobs. While leaving I passed through the room of Mr. Eitan Haber, the director of the prime minister's bureau, where I sat to calm down. After a few minutes Mr. Haber told me, `You were successful. Rabin won't transfer Kever Rochel to the Palestinians.'

"Later on, when right wing MKs took the credit that they had managed to overturn the decision, Rabin didn't hesitate to say that it was my tears which had brought about the change in the decree."

Today, despite his advanced age, Rabbi Porush continues with many activities. He is the chairman of Agudas Yisroel in Jerusalem. After finishing his series of books Sharsheres Hadoros—memoirs from the time of his father, Rabbi Moshe Porush—he is now occupied with the sequel, which concentrates on the last few decades. He still attends many simchas.

From Bircas Rochel to Daf Hayomi at the Kosel

HaRav Dovid Zicherman

HaRav Dovid Zicherman opened the chareidi supermarket chain Bircas Rochel in the early days of the Degel HaTorah movement. The chain was named after Rebbetzin Rochel Auerbach o'h, the wife of ylct'a, HaRav Shmuel Auerbach. Its aim was not just to advance the sale of kosher lemehadrin items, reduce prices for avreichim and do chessed with widows, orphans and large families. "Those supermarkets were unique: we had a kollel inside the store, open from sunrise to sunset, with regular minyanim," remembers HaRav Zicherman.

"When I came to tell HaRav Eliashiv he was moved. But he questioned me, `Are there avreichim willing to learn in such a kollel? It's a market!' I told him that it isn't a market. Bircas Rochel was next door to Kollel Bircas Rochel and not the other way around. Everything ran according to the kollel schedule. It was the ikkar and the supermarket was the tofeil."

HaRav Dovid Zicherman set up the supermarket chain. When it was sold to the Supersal chain the name was changed to Zol Lemehadrin. Later part of the ownership was replaced, and it became Zol Po, and then Alef. Bircas Rochel was chareidi- owned, today not all the supermarkets are.

HaRav Zicherman is also linked with another launch; that of Degel HaTorah. He was one of those closest to HaRav Shach in those days.

"HaRav Shach was very concerned about the situation among yeshiva bochurim and avreichim," says HaRav Zicherman. "We bnei Torah did not have our own talmudei Torah or pre-schools; there was no formal organization of bnei Torah. The housing situation was terrible, as well as the other gashmiyus problems. HaRav Shach concluded, therefore, that we had to create a kehilloh, the Degel HaTorah Kehilloh.

"That was apart from HaRav Shach's aim to elevate real daas Torah. He was upset that even the MKs who were supposed to be representing him didn't do so to a great enough extent. There was another issue which was close to his heart: spreading Torah in the periphery, in the various neighborhoods and small towns. Torah had to be strengthened there. But who would guide the local residents? It would be the avreichim who were in kollel and aspired to use their Torah and share it outside."

HaRav Boruch Shmuel Hacohen Deutsch, HaRav Zicherman and Rabbi Moshe Gafni who were close with HaRav Shach, worked together during the time leading up to the founding of Degel HaTorah. They founded Irgun Bnei Torah which led eventually to Degel HaTorah.

"I am in Degel HaTorah with the purpose of spreading the derech Hashem and bringing Jews closer to our Father in Heaven. That was HaRav Shach's motto in setting up the movement," says HaRav Zicherman. "I feel that I am continuing that derech today. When Degel HaTorah was founded, there was a need for both an organizational and political framework. Today it is primarily the political one that has remained and, unfortunately, the organizational one exists only to a lesser extent. The aim was to spread Torah among different communities. Therefore we initially set up an organizational system for elections. We set up branches and, boruch Hashem we were also successful in the local elections. Afterwards I moved on to the next challenge; opening stores which combined kosher lemehadrin products with reduced prices."

He relates that then there was no store with a wide range of products, low prices and hechsherim on each product. HaRav Zicherman remembers a case in point. "I wanted to sell boxes of chocolate assortments for shalach monos cheaply, before Purim. One small example of a product which did not exist as a cheap product in the chareidi market."

That was nearly seventeen years ago, at Chanukah 5750 (1990). He arrived at the office of Mr. Yair Shamir (Yitzchok Shamir's son), then manager of the Elite Company.

Mr. Shamir asked, "How many boxes of chocolates do you want? Fifty? A hundred? It's not worth it to us to produce such small quantities."

HaRav Zicherman answered, "I want a million shekels worth of chocolates with a BaDaTz hechsher."

Shamir clutched at his chair and inquired unbelievingly, "A million shekel? Are you serious? Maybe you're joking?"

HaRav Zicherman replied, "Yes, a million shekels, and I'll write you out the check right now."

Shamir immediately got to work and within two months, ready for Purim, there were low-priced, kosher lemehadrin boxes of chocolates in various sizes. It was only then, HaRav Zicherman notes, that the industry began to realize the true purchasing power of the chareidim, which had not previously been noticed.

"In those days, who could buy meat for yom tov at even fifty shekels a kilo? But at Bircas Rochel the price dropped to twenty shekels! This creativity led to more chareidi power in the marketplace. Here lay money, profits and business. Until that point chareidi supermarkets had been inside bomb- shelters or refurbished storerooms. We were one of the first to establish a large modern store based on chareidi purchasing power. This led to new hechsherim and many brand name products were awarded kosher lemehadrin status. It is enough to mention Cristal and Tivall which have had the hechsher of Shearis Yisroel ever since.

"This was essentially the second motto of Degel HaTorah: chessed, as part of the Torah, avodoh and gemilus chassodim on which the world rests. Today I am part of the third category, that of Torah. Meanwhile I can still see the wonderful fruits of that chessed: other supermarkets and supermarket chains have opened up with low prices and intense competition."

HaRav Zicherman says that ultimately, the attitude to the chareidi customers depends on the attitude of the owners of the chain.

"No one disputes that chareidi ownership adds both to what goes on in the shops and the way chessed is performed. The supermarkets which have been taken over by financial concerns attempt to spoil the chessed component. If doing chessed advances their other aims, such as good will, then they will do it to be competitive. The place of chessed is more central if the owners are chareidi, even if the ultimate purpose is to increase profits.

"I have to note that we have seen an improvement, that today as opposed to the past, a few of the chains have chareidi ownership. There are chains with chareidi managers, or which employ a chareidi advisor as I was to Supersal after the sale of Bircas Rochel to them. However, even chareidi management without chareidi ownership is not one hundred per cent satisfactory. We need to see institutions serving chareidim, large families and bnei Torah, with chareidi ownership.

"Chareidi businesses need to be autonomous," adds HaRav Zicherman. "That's the whole idea. Not to rely on others. In the directorates of other companies, decisions are made on the basis of profit or loss, not the way chareidim look at chareidi consumers. A chareidi manager, unlike a chareidi owner, cannot always determine what will happen. Only with the owner can we be sure that every shailoh is dealt with appropriately, such as opening on Chol Hamoed and issues of tznius."

"If transportation for chareidim would be fully owned by chareidim, everything would be different. The remnants of the Mapai rule are still with us, and we need to run to others and beg them to do us a favor to change, for example, the Number Two bus to the Kosel into a mehadrin route.

"We have a political and organizational structure; however, chareidi independence has not yet been achieved," stresses HaRav Zicherman. "Chareidim are in national and local politics, but not enough when it comes to day-to-day needs.

"Here's an example. On motzei Yom Kippur I arrived at the Kosel to give my regular Daf Yomi shiur. One of the police officers told me that they had made plans for the large crowds they expected. How could I explain that after Yom Kippur there would not be crowds as there are during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva or on Chol Hamoed — when they are often not properly prepared?

"When there will be chareidi owners everything will be different. You will be able to meet the manager or owners in shul, in kolel or in the street.

"Therefore," HaRav Zicherman explains, "the Bircas Rochel stores were opened with a kollel inside the store. Both husband and wife would come shopping. While the wife took the items she needed off the shelves, her husband would go into the kollel to learn and daven.

"The atmosphere there was totally different from today. Those waiting in line for the cashier could busy themselves with ruchniyus. There were two enormous, illuminated signs in front of the checkout counters. One had the Iggeres HaRamban on it, and the second was HaRav Shach's famous letter about the issur to hitch a lift, and the issur for yeshiva bochurim to get a driving license. That sort of thing is what makes such a difference with chareidi ownership: You care even about what someone does while waiting in line.

Before Rosh Hashana we hung a list of products which are needed for yom tov. Being particular about halocho was what was extraordinary about Bircas Rochel. I haven't yet seen anything which duplicates us, apart from the prices and large purchasing power.

"HaRav Shach was always thinking how to help the individual, because no one else was. In the same way that he troubled himself to help a boy from Moshav Pediah who had nowhere to learn, or to build a mikveh in Rosh Pina where none existed, he found somewhere for someone who had nowhere to shop. `That's how to help,' he would tell me. `Not distributing free gifts, but to help the community.' "

HaRav Zicherman is moved to tears by the following tale. "After I had left Bircas Rochel I met an avreich who told me that he had four children when the store opened. `Up until that time,' he related, `the refrigerator in my house was empty. It was only through you that I began to fill the refrigerator and bring enough food for my children. I would come, pay and still have money left over. What I bought in your store was mamash a brochoh.' That story gives me satisfaction to this very day. I filled up people's houses, not with tzedokoh, but by everyone choosing what he wanted and paying low prices.

"There was one particularly horrifying episode. One of the security men, Reb Yaakov Sophir z'l (who passed away tragically a few weeks ago) caught a man leaving the store without paying. He took him aside and the Yid said to him, `I don't have money. And I also have nothing to eat at home. I took things, but I intend to pay for them.' When he was asked how, he explained that he had made a list of every item he had taken, together with its price. He even produced the list. Yaakov came into my office and asked me what to do. I told him to send the man home and that he could keep everything as a gift. In a different company he would have ended up at the police station.

"Bircas Rochel was right for its time, but I needed to move on, and what better and more important position than teaching Torah every day?"

Indeed HaRav Zicherman is involved today with one thing only; spreading Torah. He gives a daily daf yomi shiur at the Kosel as well as another shiur to Tax Authority employees — both of them through the Meoros HaDaf Hayomi organization. He also has chavrusas during the day and is completely immersed in Torah, "exactly as HaRav Shach wished: `Spread Torah in every town, in every place.' Now I do so at the Kosel."

"Everyone should know," HaRav Zicherman concludes, "that people of my age did something in their youth, and everything comes by Hashgocho Protis. One has to look for what Hashem wants in every single thing. There is rotzon Hashem that after you contribute to the community, you need to do things for yourself. If you have tried to save the world without success, at least save yourself. So that's what I do all day, worry about my own ruchniyus. Here at the Kosel, I teach and learn with a group of talmidei chachomim, bnei yeshivos and ordinary people who sit and learn together in the holiest place in the world."


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