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29 Tishrei 5775 - October 23, 2014 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Address of the Rosh Yeshiva Shlita Maran HaRav Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman

Morai Verabosai! I cannot go on at length but I will just say a few things. Some think that with students one can do as he pleases, and therefore he allows himself to scream at them, to get angry with them, and the like. Sometimes this causes great lifelong damage because of embarrassing [a young student]. Therefore one must know that he is dealing with people's souls, and each and every one of them may turn out to be a talmid chochom who will influence the whole world with his Torah, and his yiras Shomayim and his good middos — and chas vesholom it could be the opposite.

Therefore one must be careful not to shout at them without reason. It is well-known that sometimes a person can get upset, but then he must remember with whom he is dealing: with children — with souls! Every one of them could become a godol in Torah and yirah. Literally every one of them. It is virtually impossible to say of this bochur, no [he won't], or of that bochur no [he won't]. It is not like that, and literally every one of them [has the potential]. And we hope that all those who deal with this, that their talmidim will succeed and that all of them will go in the Derech Hashem and with good middos.

I often bring an example from the gemara that says that Hillel Hazokein had eighty talmidim. Thirty of them were worthy of hashro'as haShechinah like Moshe Rabbeinu, but the generation was not worthy of this. Thirty of them were worthy of having the Sun stand still for them like Yehoshua Bin Nun, and there were twenty middle ones. The greatest of the talmidim was Yonoson ben Uziel. The smallest of all was Rabbi Yochonon Ben Zakkai. The gemara details the extent of Rabbi Yochonon Ben Zakkai's knowledge — so much Torah! And he was the smallest of all of them. We do not know anything about the talmidim of Yonoson ben Uziel, but Rabbi Yochonon Ben Zakkai preserved the entire Torah. Rabbi Akiva and all the great tanoim were talmidim of Rabbi Yochonon Ben Zakkai. So Rabbi Yochonon Ben Zakkai ensured the continuation of Torah and he was the smallest of all of the talmidim of Hillel Hazokein. [So we see that the smallest of a group of talmidim can have a tremendous impact.]

So therefore everyone should know that his work is avodas kodesh with holy souls. It is not just plain work like someone who makes a table or a bench that has no soul. Here you are dealing with souls, the holy souls of Klal Yisroel, and one can never know what will come of any given talmid. Forgive me if I may, chas vesholom, accuse you of something that you do not really do, but I want to say it again nonetheless, because every time there is a chizuk from it. And one must be strong while he is working to remember that he is not just working, he is dealing with holy souls, each one of which could become a very great talmid chochom. Rabbi Yochonon Ben Zakkai was the smallest of the talmidim and even though the talmidim of Hillel Hazokein were certainly not little children, but nonetheless the same lesson that we can learn from all these very great men we can apply to every talmid.

There are well-known stories even in recent generations that there was a talmid who was a little mischievous and afterwards became a godol beYisroel. If a student does something mischievous one certainly has to respond to his actions, but when responding one must respond carefully and chas vesholom not do something out of proportion, that will embarrass the child and after that, oy vavoy what could happen as a result, that he may leave Torah, as actually happened in some cases.

HaKodosh Boruch Hu should help us so that every one of your will succeed in educating the children along the derech haTorah and yiras Shomayim. And every one should merit to be fulfilled by his standing Torah in Yisroel, and may he merit all good. Amen.


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