HaRav Shteinman Shlita Explains His Approach
by Binyamin Rabinowitz
At the big chizuk rally held by the Ateres Shlomoh - Eretz Hatzvi kollelim, HaRav Chizkiyohu Mishkovsky, the mashgiach at yeshivas Orchos Torah, related a recent incident in which Maran the Rosh Hayeshiva, HaRav Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman shlita, explained his current approach to public activity. What follows is a quote from the remarks of HaRav Mishkovsky.
One of the major philanthropists in the world, a man with connections all over America including in the White House, came especially to the Rosh Yeshiva for a serious discussion about what to do in America. Maran shlita answered, quoting HaRav Elchonon Wassermann, regarding the extreme anti-Semitism exhibited during WWII, who replied to those people who came to him and wished to sign a declaration of their interests. [Note: Among other things, Jews were being accused of dual loyalties, and hence being untrustworthy within the United States. Some Jews wished to make a public declaration of their lack of any political interest, underlining their loyalty to the US.] HaRav Wassermann said, "The Gra writes that when our enemies have extreme power, it is a sign that there is prosecution against Am Yisroel in Heaven. And if that is the case, do you think you can nullify Heavenly prosecution with a mere declaration? Do you think Hashem orchestrated this situation just to get you to launch a publicity campaign?"
Maran the Rosh Yeshiva went on to say: We must know that in these generations, Satan is engaged in a power struggle against the Torah world, a fight to the finish. The reason for this is well known, as we have already heard from all gedolei Yisroel, that in the pre-Messianic times, ikvesa deMeshicha, the state of affairs of the Jewish People will be extremely difficult, as the Gaon of Vilna has explained. He likened it to birth pangs where the closer to the actual birth, the stronger the pains. Thus, today, at the height of the darkness, right before dawn, the night is at its blackest, and just before the great light of the Redemption bursts forth, the harsh decrees will intensify drastically. Satan knows well that this is right before the end of his road, and soon, `along will come HaKodosh Boruch Hu and slaughter the Angel of Death.' Satan draws out his hoofs, spreads himself full length in all directions, extending himself to the limit, for this is his final battle, to survive or not.
The Rosh Yeshiva asked his visitor rhetorically: "Is Satan afraid of any Senator? The only thing that can thwart him is, `If that despicable one confronts you, drag him to the beis hamedrash. If he be a stone, he will be crumbled; if he be of iron, he will explode.' Our only salvation is the beis hamedrash. Do you really believe that it will help to talk to a Senator? You can try. But this is a time of `wicked ones in the hands of those who toil in Torah.'"
The philanthropist asked, "Perhaps we should try demonstrations?"
Maran shlita replied, "I heard firsthand from the Brisker Rov zt"l that he doesn't hold of them. Even if they all want me to participate [in a demonstration, since] I know that he never changed his mind, I will not participate. But I will also not demonstrate against those who do demonstrate. But if I am asked, I say that the Brisker Rav did not approve of it and therefore, I also do not agree to demonstrations. This is not our approach today — only toil in Torah! The world, all of Creation, is subservient to the Torah. This is what toil in Torah can accomplish and this what every Ben Torah can do."
[HaRav Mishkovsky added:] This is what the Rosh Yeshiva says all the time, to learn continuously, to begin the seder on time and to not waste time on Fridays and Shabbos. Our task today is just toil in Torah. We fight this yetzer hora only with toil in Torah and not with demonstrations. The Chazon Ish said that to oppose Hitler we needed HaRav Boruch Ber and Rebbi Shimon. Before the Amolek of our time we need our toil in Torah.