The long nails of the maskilim were digging ever
deeper into the walls of holiness in Am Yisroel.
Particularly targeted and all the more vulnerable were
the bochurim of the yeshivos, whom the
maskilim knew were steeped in Torah's wisdom.
They drew them into arguments, intending to sow seeds
of doubt in their hearts — seeds that often took root
and then grew, leaving the young boys confused, and
eventually leading them astray.
Against this backdrop, the Rosh Yeshiva of Mir was
searching for a suitable mashgiach for the great
Mirrer Yeshiva; a mashgiach whose strength lay
not in his deeds only but also in his word power, to
counteract the wily words of the `enlightened'
apostates and to create a firm grounding and atmosphere
for the yeshiva bochurim; a mashgiach who
could thwart the danger from this ever-present enemy
attacking from within and without.
These qualities he found in R' Yeruchom and from the
day he stepped into Mir, R' Yeruchom charged it with
its unique atmosphere, famous until today.
R' Yeruchom's background was Torah and yir'oh.
After his marriage, he left home to learn in the
renowned talmud Torah of Kelm, where he sat and
learned for ten years continuously, returning home only
twice a year for Pesach and Succos.
Such was the respect engendered by R' Yeruchom, even
from the non-Jews that, towards the end of his life
during his final illness, the gentile neighbors laid
grass on the roads surrounding his house so that the
Mashgiach would not be disturbed by the noise of
passing carriages and wagons.
During the years that he was mashgiach in Mir, R'
Yeruchom yearned to leave this holy work and return to
his studies and tikkun hamiddos in Kelm. His
sense of duty, however, bade him stay and, undecided,
he consulted the "Goral HaGra." The posuk
he found was from Shemos (25,15), "The poles
shall be in the rings of the Aron, they shall not
be removed from it," a clear indication that R'
Yeruchom should stay, assisting those who were learning
Torah and not desert them.
The Mashgiach tried to give over the spirit of Torah
and mussar that he had imbibed in Kelm. "I once
went to visit Reb Nochum Velvel Ziv, zt"l, the
son of the Alter of Kelm. I found him crying bitterly
over the petiroh of his brother-in-law, the
tzaddik, R' Zvi Hirsch Broide, although quite
some time had already passed and the mourning period
had long since been over.
"`Isn't it forbidden to mourn over the deceased longer
than prescribed by the Shulchan Oruch?' I asked.
"Replied R' Nochum Velvel, zt"l, `The gemora
says that if a person cries more than three days
over the dead, HaKodosh Boruch Hu tells him,
"That's enough, you need not have more mercy than I."
This refers to when one cries for the niftar
himself. However, when I cry for myself, bemoaning the
fact that I no longer have my rebbe to guide me, the
longer the time since my Rebbe's death, the greater the
pain and deeper the loss."
He further explained with a moshol.
A philanthropist took upon himself to fully support a
destitute family, supplying their every need. Every
month they received a generous stipend, enabling them
to live comfortably and even to put away some savings.
When this rich benefactor passed away, the poor family
mourned his death, knowing they had sustained a great
loss. As time passed and their food supply dwindled,
their sadness grew. When they had to use their savings,
all the more so. However, after an even longer time,
when they were left totally destitute again — then
their sadness knew no bounds.
"I am the poor man," concluded R' Nochum Velvel, sadly,
"and the more time passes, the more profoundly I feel
that I am bereft of my guiding light."
"This is how a tzaddik in Kelm spoke and felt!"
explained the Mashgiach.
Not only did R' Yeruchom teach the bochurim, but
it was in his zchus that the whole yeshiva was
saved from decimation at the hands of the Russian Army.
For the tefillos of Rosh Hashana, the Mirrer
Yeshiva would move over to the large beis
haknesses which shared a courtyard with the other,
smaller botei knesses of Mir. There they would
daven together in one building, the older
bochurim together with the younger ones, under
Once, in the middle of davening, word spread that
the Russian police had surrounded the courtyard and
were intending to carry out a search for deserters.
Almost all the yeshiva boys were guilty of forsaking
their army duty.
Fear and tension gripped the yeshiva as they tried to
decide what would be the best way to try to escape
detection. Should they disperse throughout the various
minyanim and try to camouflage themselves among
the elderly members and married men? Or should they
just lie low and stay where they were, to avoid undue
The majority were of the opinion that the safest would
be to spread out among the other shuls, but for
the final decision they turned to R' Yeruchom. The
latter pondered for a few long moments and, to
everyone's astonishment, bade all the bochurim
stay together to daven.
Perhaps the unity of their tefillos would pierce
the heavens and HaKodosh Boruch Hu would save
them from this tzoroh.
A unique tefillas Rosh Hashana began, one that
would remain forever etched in the hearts and minds of
all those present.
With the proverbial sword at their necks, the yeshiva
prayed as never before, each boy knowing his very life
hung in the balance.
And lo — a nes golui. The Russian soldiers began
their search, methodically going through each of the
shuls, leaving no `stone' unturned.
Systematically they went from one minyan to the
next, while the tefillos in the Mirrer Yeshiva
became ever quieter yet ever more fervent.
As though the largest beis haknesses were
invisible, the Russian gendarmes ignored it and left
the compound. Never before or since was "Mi yichyeh
umi yomus" said with such devotion.