Approximately 400 people crowded into the Hilton Suite in Manchester on a Monday evening several weeks ago, for a dinner celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Manchester Kollel in conjunction with the 10th yahrtzeit of HaRav Yitzchok Yaakov Weiss, rav of Eida Chareidis of Yerushalayim and former av beis din of Manchester.
Reb. Mordechai Weiss, president of the Kollel, opened the evening with an inspiring account of the history of the kollel. He spoke of the great mesiras nefesh required 35 years ago to set up the kollel and how today we are reaping the benefits of the foresight of these great pioneers.
The next speaker was Rav M. M. Schneebalg Rav of Machzikei Hadass. Rav Schneebalg dwelt on a quote from the tefilla of Ne'ilah where we say that Avrohom recognized Hakodosh Boruch Hu in his youth. The commentaries explain that the specialty of Avrohom Ovinu was that he was the first to recognize the existence of Hakodosh Boruch Hu. So too, the Manchester Kollel HaRabbonim was the leading example and the first kollel in town, paving the way for others to copy its example.
Quoting the posuk, tov acharis dovor meireishiso the rosh kollel, HaRav Binyomin Zev Kaufman, attributed the great success this kollel has had since its inception to the present day to the fact that it was such a godol be'anokim as Rav Weiss zt"l, who invested his kochos into the mossad by delivering weekly shiurim and giving away from his precious time for the avreichim. He continued by paying tribute to the late Dr. Menachem Rottenberg zt"l together with yibodel lechaim Rav Boruch Horowitz, now rosh yeshiva of Dvar Yerushalayim, who were the actual founders of the kollel with the backing and support of Rav Weiss together with the Rosh Yeshiva zt"l. Rav Weiss was also the Nosi of the Kollel and kept a very close relationship with the avreichim even after taking up his rabbonus in Eretz Yisroel.
The guest speaker was HaRav Yaakov Hillel, rosh yeshiva Chevras Ahavas Sholom and author of several seforim on niglah and nistar. Harav Hillel remarked that it is particularly appropriate to organize a dinner for the chizuk of Torah in the Bein Hametzorim period. The gemora tells us that the substitute for the Beis Hamikdash and the place where the divine presence rests nowadays is the daled amos of halocho. Especially with the nisoyon of the present generation with such stress being placed on pursuing material pleasures, and credence given by the world at large to other, alien pursuits, it is particularly important to gather at such an auspicious occasion where the derech ho'emess is promoted and appreciated.
Having experienced a very close relationship with Rav Weiss, HaRav Hillel elaborated on his gadlus and especially his humility. He spoke of the three middos which the Vilna Gaon says a posek hador must have: humility, histapkus and hasmodoh. HaRav Hillel stated that without doubt Rav Weiss was the personification of all of them.
Rabbi Simcha Bamberger, maggid shiur daf hayomi Manchester and an alumnus of the kollel, was in the chair.
A sefer containing chidushei Torah by present avreichim as well as many alumni -- now serving as rabbonim and marbitzei Torah -- was distributed at the dinner.
This well attended evening was a true demonstration of kovod haTorah and kovod Shomayim and everyone left with a sense of deep inspiration and elevation.
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