HaRav Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman Visits London for a
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
...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
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.