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26 Iyar 5763 - May 28, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Call for Awakening in a Time of New Decrees

from HaRav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz Zichron Meir Bnei Brak

This letter was issued by HaRav Lefkowitz to provide encouragement and guidance in these difficult times.

BS'D, 11 Iyar 5763

First of all we must reflect. As the Tribes of Israel did when it says: "And they turned, trembling, to each other saying, `What is this Elokim has done to us?'" (Bereishis 42:28). Undoubtedly Hashem's actions toward us have a purpose based on the will of the Creator.

Thus Chazal said all events are middoh keneged middoh to allow us to understand and know why Elokim [acts toward us in a certain way] and to know what to rectify. This is what we say in Selichos, "Umimakoh atzmoh mesaken retiyoh" (from the Selichos of the first Monday of Bahab). Chazal say, "The ways of Hashem are not like the ways of flesh and blood. The way of flesh and blood is to strike with a knife and heal with a bandage, but HaKodosh Boruch Hu heals with the same implement with which he strikes, as is written, `And they came to Moroh and they were unable to drink the water, for it was bitter.' Says Rav Levi, 'The generation was bitter in its ways and it cried out to Hashem . . . '" (Shemos Rabboh, 50, 3). [And eventually Hashem showed them a bitter tree that sweetened the water.]

During the last several decades, our way of life has changed. We have grown accustomed to luxuries of all sorts--clothing, furniture, weddings, apartments, and much more. Competitiveness among ourselves has increased to the point where everyone lives in comparable circumstances, the haves and even the have- nots.

Now the Creator has sent us these decrees in the form of budget cuts carried out by those whose intention, chas vesholom, is to reduce the number of lomdei Torah and to bring many families to the point where they will lack food to put on their tables. [Hashem's purpose] is to make us yearn to return to a bygone way of life. He is trying us to see whether we will clutch onto the corners of the Altar, the Altar of ameilei Torah, and not slacken in Torah learning. This is the meaning of the words, "Umimakoh atzmoh mesaken retiyoh" in our case.

The same applies to girls' schools. Advanced study courses for Bais Yaakov teachers are being decreased and many teachers are drawn to studies they do not need for their profession but rather to obtain academic degrees and credentials. And although their sole aim is to secure salary increases, these courses constitute a breach in standards of modesty. This development has also led to lessened appreciation and esteem for the Torah and lomdei Torah and is diametrically opposed to proper chinuch habonim for both girls and boys. As a result there are many problems among young men and women who have unhitched themselves from the yoke of what the chinuch obligates them.

Now they [government figures] want to intervene in various ways and to alter the spirit of education in Bais Yaakov seminaries. All this has been sent by Hashem Yisborach to teach us to preserve the pure goal for which Bais Yaakov was founded.

To our Dear Avreichim, the Students of the Kollelim

Have compassion on yourselves and your households, strengthen yourselves and bring to fruition the words of the Tana, Kach hi darkoh shel Torah, pas bemelach tochal . . . uvaTorah atoh omeil. Im atoh oseh kein, ashrechoh vetov loch, ashrechoh bo'olom hazeh vetov loch lo'olom habo (Ovos 6:4). Eventually you will merit maintaining [Torah learning] in wealth. The "eizer kenegdo" as well should accept upon herself with equanimity the task of running the home according to the circumstances in order to allow her husband to continue toiling in Torah. This really depends on the merit of the individual scholar. As Chazal learn "zochoh-- eizer . . . " (see Rashi on Bereishis 2:18), indicating it starts with the Torah scholar. When he has zchus he is zocheh to have the help of his helpmate.

Regarding the Continued Existence of the Yeshivas and Kollelim

We believe with emunoh sheleimoh that the Creator will preserve and maintain the Torah halls and that the yeshivas will continue to teach Torah to Hashem's Nation so that Torah will not be forgotten from the mouths of their descendants. Certainly the yeshivas' existence does not depend on them [the government authorities] and their budget funds. As related in Michtav MeEliahu (Vol. I) once at a large convention someone claimed that eventually the yeshivas would cease to exist, chas vesholom, since they have no natural base for their subsistence and are always left hanging. "Don't worry," replied HaRav Ozer Grodzensky, zt'l, "In fact on the contrary, the Torah has to rely on miracles, as Chazal say, and it never has a natural foundation." Neither was the Chofetz Chaim zt'l pleased with those who wanted to establish a fund that would have generated earnings the yeshiva could have used on a steady basis for its subsistence, saying, "No, Torah can be increased using all of the principal right away."

To the Rabbonim, the Roshei Kollelim and Institution Directors, Shlita

We are well aware of your many laborious efforts and of the heavy burden you have borne on your shoulders to this day, and without a doubt this labor will become heavier. Nevertheless we ask you not to give up, for this is the time to gird our strength and redouble efforts to bear the holy load of maintaining lomdei Torah, to make concerted efforts through all available means to assist them willingly and with a seiver ponim yofos to allow them to face the trials and continue toiling in the holy and pure Torah, without yielding, chas vesholom, to the wills of those who seek to reduce the number of places of Torah and who want to change the way of life of the chareidim ledvar Hashem be'emes. And in keeping with your level of dedication and toil and efforts as part of the upholders of the Torah and Torah scholars, may you merit great success in your activities, in peace and serenity, and be blessed with the brocho, "Boruch asher yokim . . . "

(signed) Who blesses and Seeks your Welfare,

(signed) Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz

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