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