Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

27 Teves 5764 - January 21, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Rav Eliyohu Eliezer Dessler, Zt'l, His Fiftieth Yahrtzeit

By Rav Meir Wunder

All the material appearing in this article is taken from the new two-volume sefer, to be released in the next few weeks, containing hitherto unpublished or unavailable material, entitled Sefer Zikoron: Michtav Mei'Eliyohu. There are over 500 new letters of Rav Dessler, plus hitherto unpublished shmuessen and other material. There are also many ma'amorim that were written especially for these volumes, and works written about Rav Dessler that are not available elsewhere. Many of the letters contain valuable insights that are entirely new.

Notes From a Young Bochur's Recollections

By Rav Meir Wunder


The new talmidim at Ponovezh Yeshiva, who had joined at the beginning of the summer of 5709 (1949), awaited the Mashgiach's arrival with curiosity. They had heard that he was a Torah giant, that he had conducted Torah correspondence with his uncle Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky and that where Reb Chaim Ozer wrote "a certain scholar asked me . . ." in Achiezer, it referred to him. They had also heard that he was a giant in mussar, who had gained experience in Gateshead and in London and transmitted the heritage of his ancestor Reb Simcha Zissel, the Alter of Kelm and of Rav Yisroel Salanter, the founder of the mussar movement. His arrival was delayed however and he finally appeared in the yeshiva on Friday the twenty-eighth of Iyar.

He delivered his first two shmuessen as early as Shabbos Bamidbor, speaking clearly and distinctly. He clarified the idea of the negation of substance, meaning that the concepts of space and time have no meaning in the spiritual realm. Thus, the soul is above place and time. This is Chazal's meaning in saying that "Hakodosh Boruch Hu is Where the world is; the world is not where He is."

The truth is that the young newcomers found it hard to grasp the ideas that he used and the profundity of his message. Some time went by before they got used to the idea he was conveying, namely that time is something relative, binding flesh and blood human beings with limited perception, whereas Hakodosh Boruch Hu, of Whose Essence we have no understanding at all, is above time. This means that for Him, an event that took place thousands of years ago, like Akeidas Yitzchok, is the same as one that takes place today.

In his shmuessen he entered worlds of Jewish thought, broadening our horizons with the ideas to be found in the works of the Maharal, the Baal Hatanya, the Sefas Emes and Rav Tzodok Hacohein of Lublin. He would cite examples drawn from everyday life or coin elegant descriptive phrases in order to illustrate abstract concepts. He would also cite mathematical and geometrical principles in order to show that they had pure sources in the holy Torah and Chazal's teachings.

The older students felt that a new period had begun, different from that of the preceding mashgiach, HaRav Abba Grossbard, during whose tenure there had been fewer bochurim, all of whom he had known personally and whose shmuessen had dealt with improving conduct. Rav Dessler, by contrast, had stipulated that delivering shmuessen was to be his only responsibility, not keeping tabs on individuals.

Referring to this new state of affairs, the Ponovezher Rov zt'l remarked that he only had three maggidei shiur in the yeshiva but no mashgiach: two maggidei shiur for halochoh in depth and one for aggodoh in depth. (Heard from HaRav Mattisyohu Chaim Salomon, mashgiach in Gateshead and Lakewood.) On Shavuos night, his shmuess began at midnight and went on for two hours.

Towards bein hazmanim, his shmuessen were particularly gripping. He main exhortation was to ensure that there be no spiritual deterioration during the vacation and that the yeshiva would be strengthened when it reconvened for Elul. In the vaadim that he delivered to individuals, he gave guidance as to how to respond to the various arguments that bochurim would have brought against them. These concerned issues that were then current, which a large number of bochurim were going to have to face at home or in other settings.

He was pained by the government authorities' campaign against religion. He encouraged going out to work [at strengthening religion] in the camps for new immigrants and complained at the glacial pace at which the arrangements for the bnei yeshiva's joining these efforts were proceeding. He gave shiurim on human nature, showing how to size up a child or an adult's character and how best to influence them. On leil Shabbos, erev Tisha B'Av, he delivered a shmuess with special encouragement, repeating it the following morning for those who had missed it because they had traveled to Tel Aviv for a meeting to prepare them for working in the immigrant camps.

In his shmuessen at the end of Av, he clearly elucidated man's spiritual ascent from the level of nefesh shebenefesh to that of neshomoh shebenefesh and on to chayoh and yechidoh shebenefesh. Through his Elul shmuessen, he managed to create an atmosphere in the yeshiva of repentance and coming closer or Hashem.

He called to us and roused us to shake off the dust that had accumulated in the course of the year and to fully utilize the period of Hashem's closeness and goodwill as Rosh Hashanah approached. Stores of Divine assistance would be bestowed upon us if we only took the first step and made a tiny opening.

He also explained that levels of free choice varied from one person to another. The moral challenge faced by a thief who breaks into people's homes is unlike that of a righteous individual.

Following Yom Kippur, he delivered a shmuess after shacharis in which he said that the word kippur, atonement, is related to the idea of kofer, an indemnity or fine. Hashem forgives, he pointed out, but He expects that in return, people live up to the resolutions they made. Another year, he banged on the shtender and announced that the bochurim should come to yeshiva for Simchas Torah.

On Simchas Torah he was called up as Chosson Bereishis. When visited by bochurim who had been making the rounds of the maggidei shiur, he poured them wine and explained Chazal's statement that "When wine enters [a person], secrets come out" (Sanhedrin 38). He explained the meaning of every song that they sang, following which he asked them to sing the song again. For example [he explained] when singing, "And thereby, great bounty should be bestowed in all the worlds" (from the prayer said before doing a mitzvah), one all-too-often thinks, "True, in all the worlds but not for me," just as when praying, "And so, put Your dread into all Your creations," one all-too-often thinks, "but it doesn't concern me." He stressed that on the contrary, we must understand that this is of immediate concern to us. "And thereby," through our mitzvah, "there should be great bounty."

Another year, he sang the Alter of Kelm's tune for the posuk, "You bring man to a low point . . ." (Tehillim 90:3). (The notes for the tune can be found in the work Tenuas Hamussar at the end of Volume 2.)

Towards the end of the day, when all the bochurim gathered in the dining room, he spoke about the great worth of the dance Se'u She'orim and the great impression that it makes.

He maintained his practice of delivering three shmuessen a week during the winter of 5710 (1949-50). If prevented from doing so by absence or ill health, the Rov would speak instead of him on leil Shabbos and Rav Dovid Povarsky zt'l on motzei Shabbos. In the middle of Teves, he visited the State's first Prime Minister in an effort to prevent him from conscripting the bnei hayeshivos. In Shevat he eulogized HaRav Mordechai Pogramansky zt'l who had been brought to Eretz Yisroel for burial from France.

In that month, a rare storm left the entire country blanketed by snow. The bochurim's hearts went out to the immigrants in their camps who were suffering in their tents from the cold and damp. They dispersed across the city to collect warm clothing for distribution in the Rosh Ha'ayin camp.

In the mashgiach's Wednesday night shmuess, he explained that one had to be careful not to do a mitzvah that was liable to result in great ruination and that from that day, the communal work was to cease and the learning to be done with greater energy and application. His words made an impression and the beis hamedrash was full the very next day, except for a few individuals who were making the final arrangements.

After his shmuess he called the Peilim staff and encouraged them to continue their blessed work but he asked them to try and prevent it from affecting the course of yeshiva life. In 5713 (1953), he was chosen to act as president of the committee of Torah camp workers, together with HaRav Eliyohu Lopian zt'l and HaRav Yaakov Landau zt'l and he consulted them about all educational problems.

In Iyar 5713, he delivered a mussar shmuess in Haifa. Rav Akiva Hacarmi, the rov of the adjacent Kiryat Shmuel took the opportunity of getting him to speak there as well. A very large audience attended, with people coming from Kiryat Motzkin and Kiryat Chaim as well. People enjoyed hearing his ideas presented in fluent and correct modern Hebrew. His subject was Rabbi Akiva's dictum, " `Love your friend as yourself' is an important Torah principle." He explained that the level of "Love your friend as yourself" can be attained by learning with the intention of fulfilling Torah in its entirety.

With the Bochurim

The bochurim listened to the Mashgiach's shmuessen but on the whole they did not have a personal relationship with him. For this to happen, a bochur had to take the initiative by going over to him and engaging him in conversation. There was certainly much to be gained by doing so. There were bochurim who would accompany him while he walked and put their questions to him. [On one such occasion] one Shabbos when it was raining, he cried, "There is such a Shabbosdik atmosphere here! Even the falling rain is Shabbosdik rain!"

He once remarked that the differing types of avodas Hashem that are called for from the Jews of different countries is influenced by the climate. In northerly Lithuania there is extreme cold and heavy snowfall. Jews therefore huddle inside their coats and engage their minds in deep Torah study. By contrast, further south in Hungary, the climate is more moderate and there are many grape vines growing. The people have a more open and happier temperament, leading them to serve Hashem in joy and through dancing.

Once, when several rabbonim were demurring over which of them should enter the elevator first, he mentioned the halochoh that no honors are given when using an entrance that has no mezuzoh.

A talmid once asked him two questions after shacharis. He answered one of them and excused himself saying that since he saw the Rov of Pardes Channah approaching, he should put his question to him.

The father of one of the bochurim, who was displeased at his son's having gone to yeshiva, came there for Shabbos Mattos-Masei 5709, the twenty- sixth of Tammuz. Rabbi Shimshon Harari brought this to the Mashgiach's attention before kabolas Shabbos and at the last minute, he shelved the penetrating shmuess that he had been about to deliver and spoke instead about the virtues of Torah and of those who study it.

The effect was immediate; the father gladly came to terms with the step his son had taken. He was befriended personally by the Mashgiach. There were still other members of the family who were not pleased about his learning in yeshiva and at every step of the way the Mashgiach had to be consulted as to how to proceed.

Once, some problem arose on erev Rosh Hashanah and uncharacteristically, the bochur was afraid to approach the Mashgiach for his advice. He had noticed an atmosphere of fear and awe about the Mashgiach whose face was wearing a fiery spiritual look that the bochur had never seen before.

This friendship brought additional benefit in the form of a younger brother who came to learn in the yeshiva. The Mashgiach was involved in every step of his acceptance into yeshiva ketanoh and gedoloh. In Sivan 5710, while the younger brother was learning in Yeshivas Be'er Yaakov, the Chazon Ish thought that his elder brother should move there for a while to help him acclimate.

The Mashgiach was not pleased with this. He said that the Rov would not accept back a bochur who had left the yeshiva for a time and that he would discuss it with the Chazon Ish when they next met. As a result of their discussion it was resolved that the elder brother should remain in Ponovezh and that he would help his brother by visiting him.

On his own initiative, the Mashgiach continued taking an interest in the younger brother's progress. He inquired as to whether he could prepare a piece of gemora by himself and whether he was already hearing chiddushim, so that in Elul he could join Ponovezh and enter Rav Gershon Edelstein's shiur.

One of the bochurim had pains in his eyes when learning at night. The doctor he consulted advised him to stop all reading for a certain period. When he told this to the Mashgiach, he advised him to be careful to get no less than eight or nine hours eye rest at night. He also told him to review the gemora in the evening with closed eyes, to read less during the day and let his chavrusa read instead and to learn mainly in depth, not to cover ground at a faster pace which necessitated keeping one's eyes on the text. Since it was hard for the bochur to adhere to these guidelines, he sought the advice of the Chazon Ish, who referred him to an eye expert in Yerushalayim, Dr. Ticho.

The directorate of Zeirei Agudas Yisroel begged a certain talmid to come and lead a group for an hour on Shabbos afternoons. The problem was that it was during the seder hours in yeshiva. Since the Chazon Ish had once told this bochur that such activity was an important mitzvah, he went to ask him again. The Chazon Ish told him that one had to know whether the yeshiva would be opposed to his being absent during seder hours. The talmid said, "In that case, shall I ask Rav Dessler?"

The Chazon Ish replied, "He should certainly tell you to adhere to the yeshiva's schedule. What you need to judge is whether they will take exception to your being absent at that time."

On Chanukah 5711 he brought his weekly shmuess forward to Tuesday so that the following day, bochurim could attend the wedding of Rav Nissim Karelitz in Petach Tikva.

His Petiroh

On the last Wednesday of his life, the talmidim of the kibbutz traveled to Petach Tikva to participate in the wedding of one of their members, Shmuel Einstein. The Mashgiach did not want to forgo saying his regular shmuess altogether, so he cut it short and spoke to the remainder of the talmidim -- who of course had no idea that this would be his last shmuess -- for only half-an-hour. He was late in arriving at the wedding celebrations; it was to be the last time the talmidim saw him.

He returned from the wedding with pains in his leg, which later moved to his hands and kept him bedridden. He did not deliver his usual shmuessen over Shabbos but in the yeshiva it was assumed that it was just some minor ailment and no one even bothered finding out how he was. Even on Wednesday the twenty- fourth of Teves 5714, his condition was not thought of as being serious.

At five p.m., the seder in the yeshiva was disturbed when someone started communal Tehillim because, he said, the Mashgiach had suffered a heart attack. The news came as a complete surprise. Then, word immediately arrived that he had died and it transpired that the Tehillim were being said after his petiroh. Everyone quickly made their way to his apartment in the yeshiva complex in utter shock and sobbed like young children as they recited Tehillim before the body lying on the floor.

About his final moments, it was known that he had been alert and in excellent spirits right until the end. To bochurim who visited him at four o'clock he had said that he was surprised at the doctors who sent healthy people to bed and that if the doctor who was then supposed to arrive would allow him, he'd come that evening to deliver his shmuess.

There was no learning in the yeshiva that evening. The lights were extinguished in the beis hamedrash standing high on its hill and visible faraway. The entire city realized that something terrible had happened in the Torah citadel.

While the members of the hanholoh were making arrangements for the levaya, the bochurim paced back and forth in shock and distress. The Ponovezher Rov was not told, so as not to upset him, but a telegram nevertheless arrived from him the next day that said, "[We are] cloaked in pain and sorrow over the tremendous loss to our holy yeshiva and to the yeshiva world. Who shall give us his replacement? Cable me of details of the dreadful calamity."

An enormous levaya took place the next day. Thousands accompanied him to the Shomrei Shabbos cemetery in Zichron Meir where he was laid to rest alongside HaRav Yitzchok Isaac Sher zt'l. Standing on the steps of his home, HaRav Yaakov Landa, zt'l and HaRav Shabsei Yogel, zt'l delivered eulogies. Later, he was eulogized by HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein zt'l, HaRav Eliyohu Lopian zt'l, and HaRav Yehoshua Zelig Diskin zt'l.

Tefillos were held in his home throughout the shivoh and a paraffin lamp burned in his place in the beis hamedrash, serving as a reminder of his absence. There were hespedim during the week. One evening the three maggidei shiur spoke and another evening HaRav Yechezkel Levenstein spoke.

His grave was visited at the close of the shivoh and all the mishnayos were divided several times for the sheloshim. It was unusual to see the entire yeshiva sitting and learning mishnayos after shacharis. The atmosphere in the yeshiva was generally stronger; bochurim made a point of coming to the tefillos and there was full attendance at the sedorim.

Casting the Gaon's Goral Over Whether to Make Aliyah

Be'ezras Hashem, the second of the Aseres Yemei Teshuvoh 5706,

My beloved and precious Rabbi Sliman Sassoon . . .

On yom rishon I received another letter from your dear . . . brother-in- law Rabbi Asher . . . which was the reply of the Ponovezher Rov . . . with a great deal of enticement, agreeing that I could appoint a mashgiach of my own choice there but that I should hurry up and come. I have been greatly enmeshed in doubt. Obviously, it is impossible to leave the kollel in the lurch. The question is whether I should take steps to try and hand things over to someone else etc. etc. -- it is impossible to detail all the doubts.

At any rate, although I know my own meager worth, I consented to concentrate as much as I could and to cast the lot of the Gaon z'l. This is [the posuk] that I arrived at: "Hurry and ascend to my father" (Bereishis 45:9) on which Rashi z'l, comments, "Eretz Yisroel is higher than all other lands." Although that was an ascent for the purpose of making a temporary descent [to Egypt] -- as the posuk concludes, "come down to me, do not tarry" -- it is evident that it is correct to go and visit Eretz Yisroel and to return and deliberate here, as you have well advised. I am not telling the bnei Torah that I might be about to move there because I don't want the bnei Torah here to be worried; it might depress their spirits etc. I didn't even tell my own family . . . about the lot.

At any rate, I am extremely grateful to you for your suggestion that I travel with you, for it was made at a very opportune time for me. I am enclosing my passport because I have been told that if I make the request myself I will not receive the visa to travel to Eretz Yisroel as well and I think that if you make the request [on my behalf] together with your own, in other words, that I should accompany you etc. . . . probably about the day of travel because I must beli neder arrange for the kollel's expenses until my return . . . in advance, which is a very weighty undertaking indeed. Please let me know, my beloved friend, what transpires in this respect and if it is really practical [to travel] in a few weeks' time, or whether you have changed your mind. At any rate, I am lost for words to thank you for your wonderful suggestion that I go with you to Eretz Yisroel. Who knows whether I would have had any other way [of getting there], especially since I do not want to travel at Rav Cahaneman's expense, because I do not want to bind myself before having come to a decision. May Hashem yisborach assist me and send me His holy counsel and may no admixture of the kelipoh delay it, on account of my puny worth . . .

I must be brief because time is short. I remain your loving friend,

E.E. Dessler

Keeping Distance from a Bad Influence

However, even if this man who calls himself a Liberal did tell you something good on this occasion, it would still be good for you to lessen your involvement with him. He probably has bad ideas that are contrary to pure faith, otherwise, why does he seek renewal in Yiddishkeit? It can only be because he doesn't believe in and does not want to accept what the holy Torah says at face value.

This is always the way evil people like this work. They start out saying fine and good things, sometimes even important ones but later they also come out with their harmful ideas and try to veer away from the genuine Torah of Yisroel. Flee from such people because the consequences for you could be serious.

I have already written about how there is no substitute for yiras Shomayim. Without genuine yiras Shomayim, every wonderful interpersonal virtue falls away, because nothing save yiras Shomayim and serving Hashem by keeping Torah and mitzvos in every detail, can stand up to the yetzer hora. I therefore ask you, dear children, be careful of a man who calls himself a Liberal.

The fact that he observes a few mitzvos in front of others is no proof at all. There are many people like that but inside they are completely rotten. Hashem is not in their hearts. They are sent by the yetzer hora to lead astray those who want to serve Hashem in truth and wholeheartedly.

On Seminary Business

B"H, Yom Shishi, erev Shabbos Vayishlach, Spring Valley

To my friend and dear one . . . Rabbi Avrohom Kohn . . .

With regard to . . .'s suggestion -- I can't see any good coming from it at all. I think it is the counsel of the yetzer hora in order to destroy the content of our beis hamedrash. Any partnership with the "board" means a partnership with the leftists, from whom one cannot possibly keep away far enough. If we must take donations from them, let it at least be in a way that the donors are not organized, as Chazal say, "It is good for reshoim and for the world, when they are scattered." It is absolutely clear to me that any partnership with them when they are organized will result in ruination.

Let us not mislead ourselves by saying, "But they have promised not to interfere in internal matters . . ." That is worth as much as a cat's promise not to take fish that are lying right in front of it. How much more does all this apply [to the eventuality that] our beis hamedrash anyway moves to London? We will then be without all the beneficial influences who are so helpful in creating the [present] wonderful atmosphere.

However, one has to think carefully about accepting new talmidos who do not pay. There is a frummer yetzer hora (a harmful idea with the appearance of worth) in this too. Care must be taken that the thing doesn't grow beyond the point where it can be financed. Care must be taken in seeing that expenses rise gradually and that they keep approximate pace with the increase of income . . .

On Secular Studies

To my dear friend . . . whose influence is great, who raises Torah disciples, who emulates the deeds of Rabbi Chiya, ensuring that Torah will not be forgotten by Klal Yisroel . . . Rabbi Avrohom Kohn . . .

Regarding the question of [whether or not to engage in] university studies in order to be able to achieve more for Torah and yiras Shomayim later on: I think that I have already written about the mistake inherent in this argument in my letter to our friend Rabbi Mordechai Miller, and I have [definitely] written about it clearly in my letter to Rabbi Binyomin Ze'ev Kaufmann . . . (of Gateshead Kollel) . . . where I also noted the Chazon Ish's opinion.

There is a general principle concerning anyone who takes the necessary steps to prepare himself for influencing those who are distant [from Torah], whether by being a rabbi or a speaker in their communities. We have seen quite clearly that not only have they achieved very little but that in time, their own Torah outlook becomes dull and faded.

Is it really such a great achievement to get a handful of our estranged brethren to come to synagogue on Shabbos when they drive there in their cars and such like? And if one is talking about influencing people whose opinions are similar to our own, a university degree is obviously going to be a hindrance.

Even though there have been several great individuals who were saved [from damage personally] and who reached places where there were both religious and irreligious Yidden, it is well known that the quality of their influence fell in proportion to the degree that they brought distant Yidden into their orbit. Would that Hashem protect them from the need to provide leniencies for these people, who represent the beginning of deterioration.

If those who wish to cleave to university have their livelihoods in mind -- for it is not easy to get by as a teacher in a Jewish school and it is easy as the rabbi in some faraway community -- they ought to drop the pretense of having pure intentions and openly admit that they are compromising their yiras Shomayim for a crust of bread. Why do we need to be involved with them? Let such people leave the places where Torah exists in its purity and not confuse others with their corruption . . ..

On The Dangers of Learning Philosophy

Yom Shishi, erev Shabbos kodesh Bolok, '98 [1938]

My dear one . . .

As you see, Sliman . . . is writing as I dictate. The situation with my eyes is boruch Hashem progressing well. On Monday . . . I will enter hospital again for the eye to be cleansed, which will take approximately a week.

Your letter to Sliman was read out to me. I feel I must point out to you that for the time being, until we are together . . . please abandon your ideas of delving into the deep subjects of philosophy, inquiry and Kabboloh. It is very easy to go astray in these matters and to imbibe waters from the broken cisterns of the gentile philosophers which leads to far greater damage than gain.

See for yourself. Although there are some good things among Kant's teachings, the modern philosophy of realism that provides the basis for a life of materialism and [pursuit of] desires etc. is based in its entirety upon the flaws in Kant's fundamental ideas. I therefore ask you, my beloved, to be careful.

There is so much [in which to engage] in the revealed aspects of Hashem's service [i.e. the revealed Torah], the heart's service and cleaving to Him without looking into what is hidden. Of course, when we see each other we will not refrain from discussing profound matters and we shall try, be'ezras Hashem, to quench your thirst for absolute clarity, as we always do . . .

You can see what a commotion Chazal raised and how they warned against involvement in the concealed parts of Torah, so that people should not arrive at heretical conclusions. Concerning philosophy, we find that the Vilna Gaon z'l, writes about one of the great sages of earlier times that "the accursed philosophy led him astray." Pay careful attention to these words. If this was said about the greatest of the great, what shall we, who do not even reach the level of the smallest of the small, say for ourselves?

It is certain to lead to mistakes and there is not even a possibility of its being beneficial . . .

Learning Moreh Nevuchim

I will still reply to your last letter . . . but I will say one thing to you. Don't learn the sefer Moreh Nevuchim at present . . . When Hashem gives us the opportunity to be together, I will learn it with you but do not learn it and do not follow someone who is not acquainted with how its approach and understanding fit the fundamentals of Torah. The Rambam z'l writes in a letter that he knows that it is possible to misunderstand what he writes there but that he wrote it only for scholars and he adds, "let a hundred fools perish as long as one scholar has benefit from it . . . "

Guidelines for Mechanchim

1. The educator himself must be aware of the importance of his work. It is not just a "job;" it is avodas Hashem. This knowledge will lead him to work faithfully (not wasting time and the like) and will prevent him from losing hope if he doesn't see immediate results.

2. A committee of principals and educators should be convened to examine the textbooks in use for secular subjects and remove any undesirable material e.g. heresy, bad language etc. They should inform teachers in advance what to teach and what to stay away from.

3. Mussar should be learned each day for a few minutes before the shiur, to encourage the talmidim to learn with desire and fear of Hashem. Every child should know the Shivisi by heart and should say it before beginning learning.

4. Pictures of tzadikim and geonim should be hung in the classroom, as well as [the posuk] "Shivisi . . ." etc. and other things that will arouse the children's interest and lead them to ask questions, giving the teacher the opportunity to speak to them about Yiddishkeit and yiras Shomayim. Stories of the lives of this or that godol should also be related, to demonstrate how they developed. A pupil might also find something that is relevant to him personally in such a story.

5. Every effort should be made to engage teachers who are Heaven fearing and sensible for the secular studies, not freethinkers or bad characters, who have a detrimental effect on the pupils.

6. Good books, pamphlets and journals, with stories and wholesome ideas, should be made available for yeshiva students, to offset the influence of the newspapers and secular literature.

7. The educators themselves should learn with desire and enthusiasm for holiness (outward behavior influences inner feelings) and the students will thus also become enthusiastic. Students should become used to learning aloud and standing up. For prayer too, there should be an atmosphere of fire for holiness, not for impurity, chas vesholom . . .

8. Prizes should be awarded to those who make an effort to learn well (and not only to those who excel). All the students should be drawn closer with warm words, and love of Torah should be aroused in them and principally, to those of good character.

9. Homework should be ordered and not be more than students can fulfill. There should be weekly or monthly tests. Students should feel that they are expected to excel, not to learn in any way they want, without any responsibility, order or discipline . . .

10. Meetings should be arranged for educators in yeshivos, where they can consult each other, get some encouragement and hear a rousing talk from time to time.


Some people achieve elevation by doing things that are above their own level and through merits that are not their own. Anyone working in something that is necessary for the world's benefit merits Heavenly assistance in raising his own level by virtue of what he is doing. This holds true so long as he occupies himself in these matters faithfully and yearns for the truth. He will also merit success in whatever he is occupied with. This is because someone who is necessary for the world's correction, even if he is personally not worthy of doing such work, merits all the Heavenly assistance associated with whatever he is doing and is able to build himself in the process, since nobody but him is able to do it.

In an impoverished generation like ours, our main task is to rebuild what was destroyed and to reestablish the ruined centers of Torah and yir'oh. Although we, in our lowliness, are unfit for the task, since there is nobody but ourselves who will fill the breach, we must shoulder the responsibility and we will thereby merit tremendous Heavenly assistance.

(From the notes of Rav Elchonon Yosef Hertzmann)


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