HaRav Gershon Eidelstein, in his incisive address in the recent assembly of yeshiva students, illuminated and highlighted the path of the yeshiva world as transmitted to us from our master, the Gaon of Vilna, through his disciple HaRav Chaim of Volozhin, and through the successive generations until this latter one and its roshei yeshivos. The former formulated the manner in which yeshiva students must cope with the various harsh decrees imposed upon us, which is solely through extensive Torah study, exclusive of any other effort.
Once, during a public campaign for which a huge demonstration was organized to take place by the Kosel, some yeshiva students approached HaRav Chaim Pinchos Sheinberg, asking if they should participate. He said to them: "The Kosel is holy - but the shtender is Holy of Holies!"
This insight was expressed eighty years ago by HaRav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky in the introduction to his work of responsa, Achiezer, which he published during a trying period. At this time, the Torah world was being victimized from both without and within through tremendous persecution.
He wrote: "One cannot help asking how, at a time that Jewry is drowning in a sea of tears, you are able to "sing" (meaning to study Torah)? Our destroyers and demolishers harass us from inside and outside, determined to undermine the very foundations of Torah through explosive and poisonous means. They are determined to uproot the very underpinnings of the edifice. They come to beautify the palaces with gardens and playgrounds. Yet even when the sharpened sword is poised at our throat, Hashem's Torah has been my pastime all day long."
HaRav Chaim Ozer then refers to the benighted period before the Destruction of the Beis Hamikdash: "At the same time when the very existence of our people was endangered and at the period when the Tzedukim were gaining power, the Torah-true Perushim did not cease their study for a moment. Yavne and its scholars were the surviving firebrands who illuminated our people throughout the exile."