Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

8 Adar 5762 - February 20, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











HaRav Scheinberg Conquers Hearts And Minds in Gateshead
By Rabbi M.D. Spiro

HaRav Scheinberg's recent visit to Gateshead has shaken just about every local Jewish heart. He spent last Tuesday in Gateshead and, in barely more than 24 hours, the venerable Rosh Yeshiva managed to touch and warm the hearts of great Torah scholars and young children alike.

From touchdown on Tuesday morning until he left on Wednesday morning, HaRav Scheinberg crammed in four public shiurim delivered to about 3,000 people. He enlisted support for his yeshiva with considerable success and he strengthened the spirits of innumerable members of the kehilla. Not since HaRav Aharon Kotler's visit in the early 1960s has this northernmost citadel of Torah witnessed kovod haTorah on such a scale.

On Tuesday morning a distinguished welcoming party led by roshei mosdos led by the rosh yeshiva HaRav Avrohom Gurwicz, together with the parnes of the kehilloh R' Yosef kaufman, assembled at Newcastle Airport to welcome HaRav Scheinberg. HaRav Scheinberg was then brought to the "square mile" of Torah mosdos in Gateshead where he was greeted by the Rov of Gateshead at his home. The Rov, together with the official baal achsanya Mr. Mendel Kaufman, then escorted HaRav Scheinberg, amidst hundreds of singing children and bochurim, to a podium been erected for the occasion outside the Yeshiva Gedoloh.

The Rov then invited all those present to listen to his recital of the brocho reserved for seeing outstanding talmidei chachomim. In a shaky, emotion-charged voice the rarely-recited brocho beamed out from the loudspeakers and was answered by a thunderous, hundredfold Omein!

HaRav Scheinberg then addressed the tinokos shel beis rabbon some 80 years his juniors. He impressed upon them that nobody is born a rosh yeshiva. Until the age of nine he himself attended an ordinary American public (non-Jewish) school. "As a youngster I was no different from any of you boys. There is nothing spectacular or special about me. All of you can do the same as I did. You can become gedolei Torah. It's up to you, boys. Show the world the aristocracy of being a ben Torah."

Later he delivered a drosho to the "yeshiva boys," as he called them. The event took place in the beautiful and spacious beis hamedrash of Gateshead Yeshiva Gedoloh, the only venue capable of accommodating the additional throngs of bochurim who flocked to hear. There were contingents from Yeshiva Lezeirim, Yeshivas Beer HaTorah, Yeshivas Mishkan HaTorah, and the student body of Sunderland Yeshiva turned up almost in its entirety. With the addition of many avreichei kollel from Gateshead's four kollelim, the crowds represented an almost unprecedented measure of kovod Hatorah in Gateshead.

Time, the Underrated Commodity

HaRav Scheinberg's dominant theme was the value of time. "Grant us the understanding to realize how limited our life span is." (Ibn Ezra) Teenage bochurim, said the 91- year- old Rosh Yeshiva, need an extra dose of understanding to perceive the end of the road while they are yet at the beginning.

Once Reb Naftoli Tropp and Reb Yeruchom Levovitz overheard the Chofetz Chaim weep bitterly about 11 minutes which had gone "missing" from his accounting of the day.

As a secondary theme HaRav Scheinberg stressed the temptations assailing the eyes and mind of every bochur who goes from the beis hamedrash out into the road. He declared: There is only one protection, "Prepare a kashya of Rabbi Akiva Eiger, an insight in mussar, or a problem question which will occupy your mind as you walk along."

Interestingly, Rav Scheinberg's return journey from Yeshiva to the house where he stayed, a mere 30 yards away, took about 15 minutes! This was not only due to his frailty. Such was the magnetic attraction of his personality that throngs of bochurim surrounded him. They longed to hear another insight or simply wanted to watch him. Throughout scores of years, the hallowed walls of the beis hamedrash of the oldest and largest yeshiva in Europe had not witnessed such an outpouring of love and admiration for a visiting rosh yeshiva as on last Tuesday.

An organizing committee, together with Mr. Moshe Kaufman who was privileged to host the Rosh Yeshiva, had invested much time and thought into the challenging task of how to combine the purpose of his visit -- to enlist support for the yeshiva -- with maximum divrei chizuk and Torah for the Kehilloh.

The Recipe for Chinuch

In the evening HaRav Scheinberg delivered a drosho in the Gateshead Shul to an overflow crowd.

HaRav Scheinberg addressed the concern shared by baalei battim throughout the world: how to bring up a new generation with true thirst for Torah. Said HaRav Scheinberg, basing himself upon a posuk in Tehillim (119:111): "If a father is able to manifest an obvious outer joy about his way of life he will win the hearts of the youngsters and in that way he will win the battle for Klal Yisroel's future."

Children are looking for a life of joy! HaRav Scheinberg, a product of American Jewish society at the height of immigration from Eastern Europe, noted that an inner simcha is not enough. What is called for is a good measure of visible and palpable pleasure.

He recalled his visit to the Chofetz Chaim as a bochur in Mir Yeshiva in Poland. When told that there was a group of bochurim who had travelled all the way from America in order to learn Torah in the Mir, the Chofetz Chaim was not impressed. He quipped, "If Hashem came down all the way from heaven to earth in order to give us the Torah, a bochur can be expected to travel from America to Europe in order to learn His Torah."

Speaking to Bais Yaakov

Gateshead is home to two large Seminaries and a Girls' High School. They had a formidable problem: How to find large enough premises at such short notice. Fortunately, Rabbi Dov Oppenheimer, menahel of the Kollel Choshen Mishpot (established with advice of HaRav Scheinberg) was able to use his connections with the Gateshead City Council. Within a few minutes of being asked, the managers of the Gateshead Sports Centre cancelled other bookings and replaced them with an event which was undoubtedly "light years" away from the minds of those who had built the center.

A thousand bnos Yisroel and ladies gathered in specially arranged tiered seating to hear his drosho. Later HaRav Scheinberg remarked privately that, rather than take so many photos of him, people should have photographed the crowd and recorded their thirst for divrei chizuk.

Indeed the enthusiasm for the Rosh Yeshiva was remarkable. Some wondered: What happened to the well known English self- restraint?

Today the world is a place of specialization. Yet everything is really synthesized in the personality of this 91-year-old Rosh Yeshiva: A person who pursues mitzvos from before sunrise until late into the night, tefillas vosikin, tzitzis, tefillin and Torah. A person who strains himself at his age to daven before the Omud, a person who has published profound seforim and who can speak to young and old. Is it really surprising that he conquered the hearts and minds of all?

Torah has the phenomenal ability to speak to "all four sons," each according to his needs (Reb Chaim Brisker). It was the privilege of the Gateshead Kehilloh to witness this embodiment of Torah -- and to rise to the occasion.

The last word belongs to HaRav Scheinberg himself. One of the organizers said to him: "We apologize for overburdening the Rosh Yeshiva with an exhausting program."

He replied simply, "My pleasure."


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