Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

2 Iyar 5761 - April 25, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Preparation for Yeshiva Gedolah

by HaRav Michel Yehudah Lefkovitz

Many parents and roshei yeshivos of yeshivos ketanos must guide boys finishing yeshivos ketanos with regard to their future in yeshivos gedolos. Doubtless this is a decisive step for these boys, a step that informs their entire life and spiritual prominence. Unfortunately quite often the considerations involved are not objective and ulterior motives are mixed into this crucial decision. We therefore find it fitting to publicize chosen educational principles from the Imrei Da'as of HaRav Michel Yehudah Lefkovitz, the rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Ponevezh LaTze'irim in Bnei Brak and a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah in Eretz Yisroel. Unquestionably much more benefit is gained from studying at length the Imrei Da'as itself, but because of the matter's importance and urgency at this period these valuable excerpts will surely be advantageous.

Accept a Rav on Oneself

Just thinking about going to yeshiva gedoloh awakens in young boys the feeling of their soon becoming "independent." Although until this stage it was essential for them to listen to a maggid shiur and study Torah from him, they can now study without any help. Even though they will be hearing shiurim and actively participating in them, each one feels as if he is somewhat of a rov himself. It is very dangerous to feel like this and such feelings interfere with a talmid's progress in Torah and in reaching perfection of character.

We learn of the enormous difference between someone who truly studies from a rov and someone who studies by himself, being his own rov, from the Midrash (Midrash Rabbah Devorim 1:8): R' Shimon said: "This can be compared to a talmid walking with his rov who sees coal thrown by the wayside. [The talmid] who mistakenly thinks it to be a precious stone, picks it up and scalds himself. Some days later he again walks with his rov and notices a precious stone. [The talmid] presumes it to be a coal and is afraid to touch it. His rov says: `Pick it up since it is a precious stone.'"

This is the definition of a rov. Without his guidance a talmid can mistakenly think a hazardous burning coal is a precious stone. Only through a rov's counsel, through his clarifying matters to the talmid, can he differentiate between a "burning coal" and a "precious stone."

I heard the following from HaRav Dovid Povarsky zt'l, a rosh yeshiva in Yeshivas Ponevezh, about the vital need to accept upon oneself a rov. After HaRav Chaim of Volozhin was niftar, his talmid, HaRav Zalman of Salant, despite his being already great in Torah and yiras Shomayim, travelled to Posen to study Torah from HaRav R' Akiva Eiger. HaRav Zalman said that he must fulfill what Chazal teach us "Appoint upon yourself a rov" (Ovos 1:6).

Tefilloh and Mussar

When a talmid starts studying in yeshiva gedoloh it is necessary for him to know that tefilloh is a dominant factor in a person's success and importance in life. A talmid must therefore be careful to come on time to the tefillos and improve the way he davens. Furthermore, during the time allocated by the yeshiva he needs to study mussar diligently, a major cornerstone in forming character.

Most important is being careful not to acquire any bad friends or roommates. Even those who sit together with him around the same table should be of exemplary character. His friends should be yirei Shomayim. A true friend is one from whom he can obtain spiritual benefit. A great many talmidim have been ruined because of their befriending improper friends.

Acquire a Friend for Yourself

Another point.

Frequently young boys want to feel themselves "big." This is every person's natural feeling. When someone starts yeshiva gedoloh he must be exceptionally wary of such a feeling since a person's primary success is when he feels just the opposite: feeling like an innocent child with a true desire to study Torah . . . One's only aspiration must be to succeed in Torah and to coming in close proximity of those who can offer him advice and direct him in the right way to study Torah.

Distancing Oneself from Competition

The key factor that prevents a person from succeeding in his studies is faulty middos such as jealousy. Each talmid who begins studying in a new yeshiva must first instill in his heart a strong connection to that yeshiva and tangibly feel that, "This is where I belong. Here is the place where I must grow and elevate myself, benefit from the Rosh Yeshiva, from the Mashgiach, and from the Ramim, and from everyone." His aim should be to seek chochmah.

We all know that there are places renowned for directing their students in good middos, while there are places where very frequently individuals suffer from breakdowns. Each one of us must take this into mind, distance himself from competition, try to help each other, and be constantly concerned about how to help others.

As written above, these are merely a few chosen excerpts about the transition period from yeshiva ketanoh to yeshiva gedoloh. It is only a drop in the ocean of what is contained in this gaon's shmuessen. Our only intention is to disclose some vital points regarding this issue, and those who really want to enjoy genuine instruction in various spiritual matters will find it in Imrei Da'as.

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