Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

6 Teves 5763 - December 11, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Cornerstone For Chazon Nochum Yeshiva of Bnei Brak
by A. Shreiber

Over a thousand well-wishers convened on motzei Shabbos 5 Kislev, 5763 (November 10, 2002), the yahrtzeit of R' Nochum Yoel Halpern zt'l to celebrate the cornerstone laying for the Chazon Nochum Yeshiva named after him.

The yeshiva ketanoh division of the Chazon Nochum Yeshiva is currently located in a small rented building and the yeshiva gedolah in another modest building, both in Bnei Brak. The enrollment of both yeshivos is about three hundred and the kollel associated with them numbers an additional fifty members. It is no wonder that these two small buildings are inadequate.

At present, plans are to erect a building in the Zichron Meir neighborhood of Bnei Brak for the yeshiva ketanoh at the corner of Maharshal and Chofetz Chaim streets, which is near Kollel Chazon Ish and Ponevezh Yeshiva. The planned edifice will be four floors high with a large basement with full dormitory facilities, a spacious dining room, a state-of- the-art extensive Torah library and a well-furnished fully air- conditioned beis midrash. The hope is that this will be followed by a permanent building for the yeshiva gedola.

Because of the yeshiva's dire need for space, the building committee plans, with Hashem's help, to make a special effort to complete the construction work within a year -- something almost unheard of in Eretz Yisroel!

What is so unique about the Chazon Nochum Yeshiva?

The Chazon Nochum Yeshiva strives to incorporate the best of both Chassidic and Litvish worlds. The yeshiva is primarily intended for talmidim coming from Chassidic homes-- from all Chassidic homes without any particular preference for any one Chassidic court--and they are taught to embrace these sacred values. They are also instructed how to study gemora in depth by the teaching faculty which is made up of alumni of Ponevezh Yeshiva and Slonim Yeshiva. The penetrating mussar discourses they hear and personal instruction, refine their middos and build bnei Torah about whom can be said, "Yisroel, in whom I take glory" (Yeshaya 49:3).

The yeshiva's talmidim (there are more than a thousand alumni throughout the world) are known in Eretz Yisroel and chutz la'aretz as being both sincere and fervent Chassidim, true lamdonim, yirei Shomayim, and people possessing middos tovos.

The rosh yeshiva, HaRav Tzvi Katz, an alumnus of the Slonim Yeshiva, is the son-in-law of R' Shimon Sirokah z'l, who was a leading figure in Agudas Yisroel and served many years as deputy mayor of Bnei Brak. HaRav Katz opened the yeshiva about fifteen years ago with only thirty students and now one hundred-and-fifty study there, kein yirbu. His love and concern for his talmidim has endeared them to him and they turn to him like sons to a father. The rosh yeshiva seeks advice and guidance in this meleches Shomayim from Maran HaRav Y. A. L. Shteinman.

All this, however, would not be possible without the devotion of those involved with the upkeep of the yeshiva. HaRav Shlomoh Kostelitz, HaRav Kalman Warhaftig, and HaRav Shimon Hirsch, who manage the yeshiva, are totally engaged with the yeshiva's upkeep and carry its heavy financial burden on their shoulders from when they rise in the morning until they retire at night. Much of its success and potential of future development are without any doubt in their zchus.

Rabbi Meir Porush, the Deputy Minister of Construction and Housing and son-in-law of R' Nochum Yoel z'l, served as Master of Ceremonies. He described the rapid development of the yeshiva and kollel of Chazon Nochum. He also talked about R' Nochum Yoel Halpern's extraordinary character.

Rabbi Menachem Porush, the Head of Agudas Yisroel of Yerushalayim, related at length about the honesty and moral integrity of R' Nochum Yoel who clung to the tzaddikim who lived at his time, and as a result acquired a true Torah outlook.

The mora de'asra of Zichron Meir and rosh yeshiva of the Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva, HaRav Shmuel HaLevi Wosner cited with great emotion the posuk, "This is the day Hashem has made; let us rejoice and be glad on it" (Tehillim 118:24). He pointed out the enormous merit of R' Nochum Yoel's father, R' Chaim Yaakov Halpern z'l, the founder of the Zichron Meir neighborhood, which he named after his mentor -- HaRav Meir Shapira zt'l, the rosh yeshiva of Chachmei Lublin and initiator of the Daf Hayomi. "For fifty-five years I have personally been involved in the development of Torah institutions and Chareidi communities, and, boruch Hashem, Zichron Meir and its surroundings, through the untiring support of Maran the Chazon Ish, has succeeded in becoming the pride of the Torah Nation. It is full of chachomim and sofrim and is like "Yavneh and its Sages" (Gittin 56b).

The rosh yeshiva, HaRav Tzvi Katz quoted the posuk, "With what can I repay Hashem for all His bounty to me?" (Tehillim 116:12). Through "what"--through "For what are we?" (Shemos 16:8) we can repay Hashem. Only through our realization that all comes from the Creator, and through our being able to broaden the boundaries of the Torah, can we properly repay Hashem.

Today, he continued, it is fifteen years from the founding of the junior yeshiva and twelve years from the founding of the yeshiva gedola. The Chida writes that the Ovos studied together fifteen hours a day for fifteen years and this is the source of the fifteen chapters of shir hama'alos.

The Slonimer Rebbe zt'l, the author of Nesivos Sholom, asks why did they need to study so many years if the Torah was not given as yet. The answer is, however, written in Pirkei Ovos (5:22): "Those who have a good eye, a humble spirit and a meek soul are among the talmidim of Avrohom Ovinu." It takes many years and much effort to acquire these middos tovos.

Rebbe Yisroel Danzinger, the son of the Alexander Rebbe said that as a parent of one of the students, he expresses his deep gratitude to the rosh yeshiva and the ramim of the yeshiva.

The Mayor of Bnei Brak, Rabbi Mordechai Karelitz, pointed out that the Halpern family has excelled in supporting Torah scholars for three generations now.

The Spinka Rebbe spoke at length about the efforts the mashgichim and ramim of the yeshiva invest to guarantee the elevation of their talmidim in Torah and yiras Shomayim.

HaRav Avrohom Halpern, the oldest son of R' Nochum Yoel z'l, said in the name of the family, that this yeshiva was founded in the zchus of his father, whose idea it was to found a yeshiva in the spirit of Chassidus following the principles of the Baal Shem Tov zy'a. Overflowing with emotion, he announced, "His offspring have materialized his desire and we have `placed a yeshiva on his grave' (Bovo Kammo 16b). It is the zchus of my grandfather R' Chaim Yaakov Halpern z'l that this building is being erected on a lot belonging to the Halpern hekdesh in the center of the Zichron Meir neighborhood that my grandfather founded when Bnei Brak was first being settled."

HaRav Halpern emphasized that Zichron Meir was built al taharas hakodesh and that his grandfather included a clause in the sales contract of property in this neighborhood specifying that every house or lot be sold only to those who will never desecrate Shabbos.

He also related that when his father, R Nochum Yoel, took a walk around the neighborhood some seventeen years ago, he counted the botei midrash, yeshivos, and kollelim and commented that more than fifty percent of the neighborhood's area is occupied by places for Torah and tefillah.

"In the seventieth year from the petiroh of HaRav Meir Shapira of Lublin zt'l, for whom the neighborhood is named, I wish to mention what the Chortkover Rebbe zt'l said at the inauguration of the building of the Chachmei Lublin Yeshiva. The Rebbe called out the posuk, "Surely Hashem is present in this place" (Bereishis 28:16). That posuk can equally be applied to this entire chareidi neighborhood that, "is none other than the abode of G-d" (v. 17). The Chortkover Rebbe also expressed his wish that `this kedushoh remain forever and will even intensify.' How fitting is the Chortkover Rebbe's zt'l statement, also to this momentous event of the cornerstone laying for the Chazon Nochum Yeshiva.

HaRav Shlomoh Kostelitz, the executive director of the yeshiva and member of the Bnei Brak city council, read the yeshiva's Foundation Scroll, signed by Maranan verabonon gedolei Yisroel shlita, that was buried in the soil of Zichron Meir. The yeshiva's management awarded certificates of merit to all of the Halpern family, the sons, sons-in-law and grandsons of R' Nochum Yoel z'l who assist in the building of the yeshiva.


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