Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Last night I had the great privilege of attending part of the Program marking the end of Shloshim for Mir Rosh HaYeshiva Rav Noson Tzvi Finkel OBM at the Palace in Brooklyn. A scheduling conflict compelled me to leave after the first three speakers but even the small portion of the program that I was present for was uplifting and inspiring.
The huge crowd of a very wide variety of Jews from many stripes (I'm not great at these things but I'd guesstimate that it was 2000+) gave me a sense of the enormity of the person being mourned and of the institution being celebrated. Swept along by the collective emotions that are always augmented by herd-like numbers, even a misanthropic, hyper-critical curmudgeon like me could not avoid being moved to affection for both the Rosh HaYeshiva, the B'nei HaYeshiva and the Tomkhei HaYeshiva.
I am an alumnus of two Yeshivas one of which was Mir Yerushalayim. Despite having been a mediocre student during my time there, I was bursting my buttons last night for at least having once been a part of what can only be described as the Yeshiva of K'lal Yisrael. Even had I never studied there I believe that Gene Fowler's quote re the City of San Francisco, " Every man should be allowed to love two cities, his own and San Francisco", should be retooled as follows: " Every man should be allowed to love two Yeshivas, his own and The Mir".
Here are a few salient points of the talks that I was privileged to hear:
Mr. Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz emphasized the Rosh HaYeshivas greatness in terms of having an awareness of everything happening in so massive an operation, somewhat like the CEO of a major corporation. (It takes one to know one!). He added that not only did the Rosh HaYeshiva have the tests and trials of the rich man but of the poor man and an inverted Yosef HaTzadik (the surcease of pain from Parkinsons rather than the pursuit of pleasure) as well. As is fast becoming the stuff of legend, the Rosh HaYeshiva passed these tests with flying colors and exhibited superhuman strength in the process.
He also spoke of the palpable love and affection that he had for every Yeshiva Mahn, every Jew. Once the Rosh HaYeshiva was squeezed into the back seat of a car on the way back from Bnei Braq with a bokhur from Brisk who was the drivers cousin. The driver stopped at the Central Bus Station and asked his cousin to leave the car so that the Rosh HaYeshiva would have a bit more room on the ride back. At that point the Rosh HaYeshiva locked arms with the bokhur and told the driver "He can't leave". When the driver asked "why not?" the Rosh HaYeshiva smiled and said "because he's stuck". And, concluded Mr. Rechnitz, so were we all.
His closing words were extremely powerful. Noting the Rosh HaYeshivas capacity to aggressively fund-raise like a tiger in spite of his otherwise retiring, humility-suffused gentleness he styled him "ah gitteh beiter". "People don't change. As he was on earth so shall he be in heaven. He won't be shy and retiring and hiding in the back rows. he will go before the כסא הכבוד and advocate aggressively on behalf of his yungeleit, bokhrim family and all the Jewish People.
He urged the oilem to the Mir give until it hurts to . As he himself is reported to have cut a check for a cool five million to the Yeshiva (and then ponying up 2.6 mil to save the Bayis Sheni in Westwood from foreclosure!) not only is he a נאה דורש but a נאה מקיים as well!
PART II TO FOLLOW
בא המבדיל והעמידן על אחת
"Those who cannot tolerate Havdala cannot appreciate Qedusha"