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22 Av 5759 - August 4, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Philadelphia Rosh Yeshiva HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky Visits Elad

by A. Cohen

HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky, rosh yeshiva of the Philadelphia Yeshiva and a member of the American Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, was the guest of Yeshivas Elad and the city's Torah community. He came to Elad to help fortify the yeshiva, headed by HaRav Chaim Pas, and to share his vast Torah knowledge with its students.

At a stirring reception held in his honor, words of greeting and blessing were delivered by HaRav Pas. He cited the Meshech Chochmah on the verse, ". . . and Moshe was eighty and Aharon eighty-three years." HaRav Pas asked why the Torah stressed their age. He answered that Meshech Chochmah explains that since elderly people, particularly elderly talmidei chachomim, bear so great a communal burden, the Jewish people tend to rely upon their guidance, trusting their knowledge more than any signs or wonders.

HaRav Pas concluded by saying that he does not presume himself to be one worthy of the task of opening a new yeshiva, especially in a new location where technical problems often cause delays. "However, the gedolei haTorah, HaRav Aharon Leib Steinman and HaRav Shmuel Auerbach, joined by HaRav Elya Svei and HaRav Shmuel Kamenetsky and other gedolim, have charged me with this mission. The reason they ascribe so much importance to this endeavor is that Maran HaRav Eliezer Menachem Shach shlita fervently wants Elad to take the form of a Torah city. Since every step we have taken until now has been with the guidance of the zekeinim, the community trusts that the yeshiva will continue to be built through their efforts. As a result, we have merited the visit of one of the leaders of the American Torah world."

HaRav Kamenetsky spoke with deep emotion, citing the words of Rashi in Devorim, who explains in the name of the Sifrei: "Moshe Rabbeinu, who reproved the Jewish people only prior to his death, was emulating Yaakov, who reproved his sons only prior to his death. `Reuven, my son,' Yaakov said, `the reason I didn't reprove you all these years was so that you would not leave me and go.' Yaakov's words require explanation. Why chastise someone for a sin for which he has already repented?

"The explanation of the Ran on the issue of Mei Merivo casts light on this question. In his explanation, he discusses the phenomenon of an entity that once had a particular type of form, but lost it, only to regain it later. He says that the procedure whereby that entity regains its lost form is much simpler than the original one. This is why a fetus is taught the entire Torah, although he forgets it as soon as he is born. What value is there to teaching Torah to the fetus if he will subsequently forget it? The answer is that those first lessons, in his mother's womb, render him more capable of studying the Torah in this world.

"The same is true regarding sin. Why chastise someone for a sin of which he has already repented? The reason is that one who has committed a sin finds it easier to commit it again, even if he has repented. As a result, he requires intensified chastisement, even after he has done teshuvah.

"The Netziv discusses the fact that half of the tribe of Menashe was given a large portion in Ever Hayarden, even though it hadn't asked for it. He explains that Moshe Rabbeinu planted gedolei haTorah in the generation so that they would illuminate the dark parts of the land. In order to persuade them to settle in Ever Hayarden, he offered them a larger portion. Moshe's behavior on this point should serve as an example for future generations, teaching them the importance of striving to live in Torah environments. How important then is this place -- Elad -- since it will be illuminated by bnei Torah, who will determine its character."

After these opening remarks, HaRav Kamenetsky delivered a penetrating halocho shiur on the topic of Shirtut. Following the shiur, he met with some of the students.

The Elad yeshiva was founded two years ago in the Ganei Hadar neighborhood of Petach Tikvah, before any buildings in Elad itself were finished. Upon the counsel of HaRav Arye Leib Steinman and HaRav Elya Svei, it was decided to open the yeshiva even before the first apartments were occupied in Elad itself, in order to firmly ground the city as a mokom Torah.

At the end of his visit, HaRav Kamenetsky expressed his amazement over the hasmodoh of the bnei yeshiva.

HaRav Kamenetsky was accompanied on this visit by his son, HaRav A. Kamenetsky, a ram in Yeshivas Beis Yisroel. He was also accompanied by HaRav Z. Gartner, a Torah author from Ramot and HaRav A. Gittman, author of Zichron Eliyahu.

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