The annual massive Lev L'Achim rally was a powerful and uplifting demonstration of Kiddush Hashem in its numbers alone. It was attended by many thousands who arrived in Bnei Brak from all over the country to reinforce the many branched activities of this venerated organization, Lev L'Achim, in its tremendous work of disseminating Torah, in strengthening Torah among the youth and outreach efforts at all levels. This rally took place this past Monday in the Armenot Chen hall.
HaRav Gershon Edelstein is speaking. To the left in the picture is HaRav Chaim Kanievsky who attended. To the right in the picture is HaRav Boruch Mordechai Ezrachi.
The many participants who packed the halls from early afternoon were privileged to set their eyes upon the very `eyes of the community,' our Torah leaders, with the crowning event of this holy assemblage being the messages conveyed by them. Indeed, the very presence of these gedolim electrified the audience. A central feature was the video message of HaRav Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman. The audience was duly aroused upon seeing the figure of this Elder of Torah leaders and those of his peers, who exerted themselves to show Klal Yisrael the importance of saving Jewish souls and bringing distant fathers and sons back to their rightful heritage of Torah and activities which they declared as truly life saving. The mizrach dais was glorified by the crown of Torah leaders, including hundreds of roshei yeshiva and disseminators of Torah, Mussar and Halacha.
HaRav Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman:
The focus of attention of this huge "Knessia Gedola' gathering of thousands, was undoubtedly the venerable figure of HaRav Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman who blessed this event several hours before its commencement in his home via the leading administrators of Lev L'Achim.
"This is a very vital and great undertaking," he said, "and how important it is to increase the number of students," adding in Yiddish, "Se'iz a gevaldige zchus, a tremendous merit."
The members of the Lev L'Achim directorate asked Maran to bless the thousands of volunteer avreichim active in outreach, and the thousands who were gathering at this momentous event, and he duly invoked his benediction: "Blessings unto all. May all of you be blessed."
A view of the crowd looking from the Mizrach.
HaRav Chaim Kanievsky:
The message of the Prince of Torah was conveyed at the gathering in his name and in his presence by HaRav Zelig Braverman:
Many ask what this rally is all about, why it is repeated year after year, and why the Elders of Torah leadership exert themselves to attend it. We have been privileged to hear Maran [the Rosh Yeshiva] address this question, asking that his words be conveyed here today:
The gemara in Bava Metzia 5:1 tells how Rebbi took great pains to reach out to the son of R' Elazar ben R' Shimon who was a terrible sinner. He ordained him with smicha and asked that he be referred to as `Rebbi,' joining him unto R' Shimon ben Isi ben Lakunia as his mentor. The gemara tells that even then, he couldn't help being drawn to this-worldly futilities. Nevertheless, Rebbi continued to befriend him until he succeeded and the latter accepted upon himself the yoke of Torah, eventually becoming a Tana, rising higher and higher until he reached the level of his great father, R' Elazar ben R' Shimon, and that of his revered grandfather, R' Shimon bar Yochai.
The gemara goes on to tell that Rebbi also reached out to the grandson of R' Tarfon, promising him that if he mended his ways, he would give him his daughter's hand in marriage. This promise proved to be effective and this grandson also went on to become a godol beTorah.
The gemara asks: Why did he take the trouble to seek out the sons [and grandsons] of other scholars and bring them back to the Torah fold? We learn that whoever teaches the son of his friend Torah merits sitting in the heavenly yeshiva, and whoever does so - even if a harsh decree was passed against him, Hashem will nullify it for him.
We see here to what extent Chazal sacrificed themselves above and beyond the norm to reach out to the hearts of the sons of talmidei chachomim and those who have earned their portion in Olam Haba. This obligates each one of us to make the effort to draw wayward hearts closer to their Father in Heaven and not enclose oneself in his own home and concern oneself only in his own eternal portion.
The heads and activists of Lev L'Achim have the merit of winning over generations to Hashem. May He preserve and protect those generations, as well as all those who are active in saving souls for the sake of Hashem. May Hashem likewise protect their generations and annul any harsh decrees made against them.
HaRav Gershon Edelstein:
Drawing merit for Klal Yisrael is a very great thing, but it must be preceded by prior merit. We see that before Moshe Rabbenu was able to draw merit for his people, he first had to earn merit himself. How? Through his noble character, as we find extant in the Midrash. This is one thing.
Chazal also said that a person is guided along the path that he, himself, has chosen. One who wishes to toil for the public benefit will be assisted through Heaven since this will is also the will of Heaven, which is already a merit in itself. This, then, is the very merit he needs in order to succeed - the desire to benefit the public.
There are, however, things that stand in the way of that desired merit. Let us mention one important fact, something which needs rectification. Loshon hora is something standing in the way of merit. It is very difficult to overcome the temptation to speak loshon hora, but this pitfall is the reason for great loss. Each and every one of us should make a great effort to strengthen himself in this area: not to speak, to hear or to accept what he hears, which is all the more difficult. But one can train himself in this and whoever comes to purify himself therein will see heavenly assistance.
Then there is the aspect of `measure for measure'. The more a person toils for the public welfare, the more he himself merits success in that selfsame area, as is written, "...and from my students most of all." The reason behind this is that if one is teaching Torah and impressing its lessons on others, he will be rewarded through Heaven with success in his own Torah study, and similarly in all areas. Whoever inculcates others in yiras Shomayim will be rewarded with increased yiras Shomayim as well. Whoever guides others in character improvement will gain heavenly help in perfecting his own good middos.
Chazal comment on the attributes of Aharon HaKohen who loved his fellow men and drew them closer to Torah that through such love one gains closeness to Torah. The biggest kindness one can do for his fellow Jews is, indeed, to draw them to Torah for this leads them to Olam Haba and eternal life.
One must bear in mind that exerting oneself for his fellow Jew is not considered time wasted from Torah study per se. On the contrary, it draws merit to him for increased success in his own study through measure for measure. But since one requires prior merit in order to be privileged to succeed in toiling for the public, the first passive (as opposed to active) effort is to avoid speaking loshon hora. As for proactive effort, one must strengthen himself in Torah study and utilize his time to the maximum. If one were to truly best utilize his spare time, he could master Shas, and one who makes the initial effort is rewarded with heavenly assistance. This is all the more true where one exerts himself for the public good.
May Hashem help us all in meriting success in our efforts for the sake of the public and our efforts for our own merit.