Friday, Apr 19, 2024

Real Heroes

Seemingly small gestures, done with purity of heart and temimus, are frequently more potent than massive, world-shattering actions. Any teacher or spouse can attest to the fact that receiving a card written with heartfelt emotion, a thank you or expression of admiration or appreciation, is more cherished and valued than an elaborate gift presented without that deep, critically important personal connection. This thought came to mind when I received an e-mail from my esteemed editor, Rabbi Lipschutz, that contained a deceptively simple, yet profoundly touching, letter. Yated readers are certainly aware of the plight of Reb Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin as he suffers in prison awaiting Hashem's yeshuah. It is hard for people in the free world to comprehend what it means to be imprisoned in a high security prison like the one in which Reb Sholom Mordechai finds himself. Suffice it to say that the yissurei hanefesh and the b'didus, the isolation, is so pervasive that without iron-clad emunah and constant chizuk, a person would spiral into yiush, despair.

Reb Sholom Mordechai Receives a Dazzling Gift


Reb Sholom Mordechai is aware of all the efforts being made on his behalf, including the massive rallies in communities across the country and the tefillos for his release. That fills him with deep chizuk, providing him the strength and succor to carry on.


At times, though, one receives a sign from Above, as it were, a little packet of Divine love that illuminates the horizon with dazzling beauty. This is what Reb Sholom Mordechai received recently from members of a simply incredible yeshiva, whose innovation in education and dedication to chinuch and to fulfilling the dictum of “vechol bonayich limudei Hashem” are worthy of an article. Suffice it to say that its rabbeim and students are true heroes.


When Reb Sholom Mordechai got the letter, he was so touched that he immediately penned a letter to his family, Rav Menachem Meir Weismandl, Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz, and other close askonim who are assisting him. Read the letter from Reb Sholom Mordehcai and be touched:




Reb Weissmandl, Reb Pinchos, all my brothers, askonim and all my family, sheyichyu,


We have all the resources we need for the fund and we will succeed in all we do! “Li Hakesef Veli Hazohov Omar Hashem Tzevakos.” I just received a letter that I must share with you. It is a letter with the most precious donation for me and the Klal Yisroel fund. With this donation, all the hishtadlus will be more successful than you could imagine.


‘MI KEAMCHO YISROEL.’ ‘KOL YISROEL AREIVIM ZEH BOZEH’! We see that all the plans of our enemies will become nothing. All their evil designs will be smashed along with them. ‘UTZU EITZA VESUFAR DABRU DOVOR VELO YOKUM KI IMANU KEIL!’


Please read:


Dear Reb Sholom Mordechai,


We have read the articles in the newspapers about your plight, we hear the stories, and we have gone to the gatherings. We have been inspired. As teenagers, we constantly struggle, trying to balance between being an ehrliche Yid while resisting the challenges of our society. As much as our rabbeim try to explain the beauty of Yiddishkeit and impart Torah values, our perspective is quite different. To many of us, learning is hard, davening is hard, keeping our eyes pure is hard, and keeping our minds pure is hard.


But then we read and hear about you. All our difficulties become miniscule compared to the hardships you go through each and every day. All our puny complaints are insignificant compared to the complaints you can rightly have.


Yet you don’t! We never hear a word of doubt towards Hashem, never a complaint, never a question. Complete emunah. Complete love for Hashem and complete simcha in being a Jew is all we see. Each one of your letters flow with trust in Hashem and teaches us to remain hopeful. Your life has inspired us.


We read how much financial help you need and how much chizuk you can use and we feel helpless. Money we don’t have, and how can we give chizuk to one who is so far ahead of us in belief in Hashem? But our yeshiva has found a way to give back the inspiration that you have been for us. We have found a way to give you chizuk and assistance.


Our yeshiva is unique. It teaches each and every one of us that there is no such thing as “I can’t.” Everything is within reach when you feel it’s important and integral to you. There is not a single one of us who didn’t see, at some point, a blatt Gemara as difficult as climbing Mount Everest. Each word is a struggle, each sentence, each amud. Finishing and knowing a blatt Gemara for many of us is beyond imaginable.


Yet, our small yeshiva, Shaarey Arazim of Monsey, came together in a moment of inspiration and decided to donate blatt as a zechus for you. No, we can’t give your cause $10,000, but as a group of 80 bochurim, be”H, we have committed and created a plan to ensure that the entire yeshiva together will learn 10,000 blatt by Rosh Chodesh Adar Beis in your zechus.


We learn and chazer these blatt on our own free time, and, B”H, we have already finished over 3,000 blatt towards our goal. This is our way to thank you for the months of inspiration and chizuk you have given us. We only hope these blatt will come up to Shomayim, burst thru the doors of Hashem’s throne room, and be counted as a zechus so that you can be finished with your ordeal and once again serve Hashem with freedom, happiness, and the simcha you have shown throughout.




[There are signatures of, bli ayin hara, 80 bochurim from grades 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12.]


This extremely moving letter spurred this writer to investigate a bit more about the efforts of the wonderful Shaarey Arazim bochurim. I decided that the optimum way to get a feel of what led to this amazingly touching and magnanimous gesture and kiddush Hashem was to speak with one of the bochurim in the yeshiva. I picked up the telephone and spoke with a 12th grader named Sruly Goldstein.


The Yated Shmoozes with a Shaarey Arazim Bochur


After introducing myself as a columnist for the Yated, I asked Sruly what had spurred him and his fellow talmidim to undertake such a task in the zechus of Reb Sholom Mordechai. Listening to Sruly’s answer, what struck me most was his temimus, his innate, uncomplicated desire to help others. I was impressed by his desire to do the right thing and his cognizance of the difficulties and limitations facing him and his friends in accomplishing that task.


“You know, our yeshiva is not the typical yeshiva. Many of us have difficulty accomplishing things that other bochurim find easier, but in our yeshiva, our rabbeim constantly teach us that there are no such words as ‘I can’t.’ That is our motto. If any bochur has difficulty achieving a task, whether it is in learning or anything else, our rabbeim work with us and tailor-design a program through which we can accomplish our task and succeed. If a person needs to see the Gemara visually, they will get a projector and explain it that way. If he is having trouble with translating words, etc., they will circle the words and figure out all kinds of educational methods to make sure that, ultimately, everyone accomplishes their goal of knowing what they learn and understanding it.


“They make goals and incentives for us, and we really, really work hard at achieving those goals. Even though it is sometimes really hard, I can’t tell you how good it feels to be able to accomplish those goals and succeed. Shaarey Arazim really shows us success and teaches us how to succeed.


“Now, with the start of Shovavim, our rabbeim have created programs to learn b’retzifus. Some guys do it for 20 minutes, some guys for longer. Other programs are designed to help us keep our mouths pure and our eyes pure. When we succeed, we will be rewarded with a skiing trip or something else that we like. These are the types of goals and incentives we have in our yeshiva.”


“Is that how the campaign to learn so many blatt Gemara as a zechus for Rubashkin started?” I asked.


“Truthfully,” Sruly said, “it started at a special Shabbos retreat that our yeshiva had. One of the main incentives in yeshiva is this fantastic Shabbos retreat where the entire yeshiva goes away for a Shabbos. We have activities and we learn. It is really wonderful. On that Shabbos,they decided to sell the aliyos. Now, we don’t sell aliyos for money. Our rabbeim decided to sell the aliyos for blatt Gemara. Some guys actually bid pretty high. When we came back after Shabbos, the yeshiva made a chart where our goals and accomplishments – the blatt learned – would be recorded. We were able to see how much we did and how much we still had left towards achieving our goal. On Chanukah, the yeshiva sold aliyos again. The whole yeshiva got into it. Generally, the younger bochurim in 9th and 10th grades learned less and the older bochurim in 11th and 12th learned more. The yeshiva gave a bekius shiur to help us accomplish our goals.”


“So how many blatt will the entire yeshiva learn?” I asked.


“I hope by the time we finish, it will be 18,000” Sruly replied.


“18,000?!” I exclaimed.


“Yes!” he reiterated. “We really get involved. It was amazing.”


“So how did the idea to learn in the zechus of Reb Sholom Mordechai materialize?”


“Our rabbeim suggested it and we all thought it was a good idea. We read about him and all that he is going through. We really feel bad for him and want to help. The first 10,000 blatt are for Reb Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin, the next 5,000 are l’illui nishmas the sister of someone in the yeshiva who passed away, and the last ones are for the zechus of the bochurim in Japan.”


“Did you understand how much your learning would be mechazeik Sholom Mordechai?” I asked.


“We knew that it would make him feel good,” said Sruly. “Imagine how he feels sitting there all day, thinking about his plight! He must be so down! I would imagine that when he heard that the bochurim from Shaarey Arazim learned so much for him, it must have added 25 years to his life!”


Real Chinuch…Real Old-Time Chinuch


Hearing about the wonderful chinuch, the real old-time chinuch, where every boy’s needs, no matter how difficult, are addressed should add years to all of our lives.


When hearing the upbeat attitude of Sruly and boys like him who have overcome and continue to strive to overcome challenges, and when hearing about the seriousness with which the rabbeim in this wonderful yeshiva approach their task of chinuch, one surely imagines, as the Shaarey Arazim bochurim wrote in their letter to Reb Sholom Mordechai, that “these blatt will come up toShomayim, burst thru the doors of Hashem’s throne room, and be counted as a zechus” for all of Klal Yisroel.


We need more zechuyos, more wonderful bochurim like Sruly and his friends who overcome challenges, and more yeshivos like Shaarey Arazim.




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