Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

12 Adar 5761 - March 7, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











The Last Laugh -- Yeshivas Mordechai Hatzaddik
An interview with international coordinator, R' Naftoli Falk

by Sheindel Weinbach

Hashem has His laughs; King David testifies to this in Tehillim. And I dare presume He is enjoying a sweet revenge these days as Mordechai is repeating history and gathering all Jewish children to study Torah. On Purim of all days! And who is providing the grand prizes? A firm in Austria, birthplace of one of the most fiendish Hamans the Jewish people has ever known. And how are we overcoming the latter day Haman and stamping out his name? Through a stamp!

Some explanation is begging. We are talking about a blessed project called Yeshivas Mordechai Hatzaddik, which is the highlight of an ongoing effort to perpetuate and promote Torah study as the Torah has mandated -- from father to son.

Ovos Uvonim, Fathers and Sons, is today an international movement with 240 branches in Eretz Yisroel alone, some 20,000 children gathering in shuls for an hour of study each week -- together with their fathers! Naturally, the chareidi enclaves in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak top the list with 67 and 37 branches respectively, but the network reaches from Keshet up in Ramat Hagolan, through Tiberius, Afula, Zichron Yaakov, Migdal Haemek, Beit Shean and on down, down to the deep south of Israel, in some of the most unlikely places!

"One tree can produce a million matches," quotes R' Naftoli, "and one match can burn down a million trees." The idea had a very humble beginning in a "small hick town in America" but it fired the imagination of a young man who transported it to Gateshead, where it blazed. From there, the idea crossed the ocean to Bayit Vegan, Jerusalem, and today, Fathers and Sons study weekly in Switzerland, Belgium, South Africa, England, some seven thousand children in the U.S. and Canada, with new branches sprouting all the time, each self-sufficient but all interconnected. It does everyone's heart good to see the generations flocking (tzon kodoshim) to the central locus of a shul -- Fridays in summer, motzei Shabbos in winter -- ofttimes grandfathers joining in for the sheer nachas and pleasure of Torah study. Treats are distributed and points towards a meaningful prize after a period of steady attendance.

The grand climax is on Purim, a day hardly conducive to study, but if you think about it, a day which screams Jewish survival throughout the ages through our clinging to the Torah! And so it was, that after Ovos Uvonim had become a fact of life in so many communities, Yeshivas Mordechai Hatzaddik came into being. Of course, there were scoffers at first.

"This year," notes Rabbi Naftoli Falk who runs the Ezras Torah branch in Jerusalem (which gathers some 240 children under one roof) and coordinates the entire international project, "we've ordered 25,000 prizes for Israel alone. And I am afraid that it won't be enough." The delicious irony -- this year's prize, a personalized stamp with interchangeable letters, has been ordered from the international firm of Colop based in Austria. Needless to say, this is the largest order they ever received!

At $4.50 per gift, this runs into a large sum. But Rabbi Falk's mentor, HaRav Arye Finkel, shrugs off the financial burden with a smile. "I guarantee you'll cover it before Purim is over."

Donors do not lack. There is a special feeling for this project. One particular donor who had not had children for twelve years, gave a substantial sum one year -- and was blessed with twins nine months later.

Anyone interested in opening a branch (or giving a donation, for that matter), can contact Rabbi Falk on his cellphone: 058-605373 or write to him at Ezrat Torah 19, Jerusalem, 95320.


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