The northern town of Rechasim decked itself out on Monday, the 28th of Tammuz, as it hosted generations of the extended Yeshivas Knesses Chizkiyohu family. The alumni gathered to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of this illustrious Torah kingdom.
The yeshiva was founded in the summer of 5609 at the behest of the Chazon Ish, who charged the yeshiva's founder, HaRav Noach Shimanowitz, with serving as its head. This was a turning point in the annals of the yeshivos hakedoshos in Eretz Yisroel which, until that time, were all located in the center of the country.
The yeshiva Knesses Chizkiyohu was first located in Zichron Yaakov. Six years later, it moved to its permanent residence in Kfar Chassidim, under the guidance of the mashgiach, HaRav Eliyahu Lopian and the rosh hayeshiva, HaRav A. A. Mishkovsky.
The celebration of fifty years of Torah toil was preceded by weeks of planning: the goal being to assemble the thousands of alumni scattered all over the world. A vast throng, comprised of a number of generations of some of the finest bnei Torah, arrived at the yeshiva for the event. Among these alumni are roshei yeshiva, ramim, dayanim, marbitzei Torah and prominent avreichim, who filled the auditorium as well as nearby streets to capacity.
Upon entering the main study hall, alumni were thrilled see a large banner above the aron kodesh which contained the Chazon Ish's blessing. The blessing had been sent to the yeshiva administration during its first summer, granting the yeshiva its initial impetus. It read: "Im reishischo mitz'ar, achrischo tisgeh" -- "If your beginnings are with narrow, your end will be great. "
The first alumni, who personally experienced the reishischo mitz'ar, were moved to tears upon seeing the "achrischo tisgeh." This was an opportunity to personally witness the remarkable blossoming of the Knesses Chizkiyohu yeshiva, well known for its blend of Torah and yirah.
The event reached a climax was when HaRav Aharon Leib Steinman entered the study hall.
HaRav Steinman described the event with the verse, "Be'er chaforuho sorim koruho nedivei om." He then noted that during the past fifty years, the yeshiva has been guided by gedolei Yisroel, who invested in its building. He noted that many spiritual worlds had been built here.
"The fruits which the yeshiva produced during this period are the fruits of the yovel year, which last forever," he said.
He then explained in a most profound manner how by means of the process of dor holeich vedor bo -- one generation follows another -- Hakodosh Boruch Hu governs the world. Even the angels serve in shifts, while each new shift increases the glory of Shomayim and arouses the need for additional kevod Shomayim, until the point is reached when Hakodosh Boruch Hu cries out with longing, "Woe to Me that due to their sins I have destroyed My home and consumed My heichal."
HaRav Steinman blessed the entire group which had come to strengthen its link with the yeshiva, and by doing so to give it the power to increase Torah learning. This strength would produce fruits to the point that "the earth will be filled with wisdom as water covers the sea."
The event was opened by the yeshiva director, Rav Dovid Mishkovsky, who carries the burden of maintaining the yeshiva with untold dedication. He expressed his gratitude to Hashem for having granted the yeshiva the merit of reaching this important day. He then reviewed the yeshiva's history.
The alumni listened to the shiur of the rosh yeshiva, HaRav Dovid Yitzchok Mann. His students were delighted at once more being privileged to rejoice in his divrei Torah, known throughout the yeshiva world for the chein with which they are said and for the deep messages conveyed.
The mashgiach, HaRav Dov Yaffeh, fervently blessed the alumni. With words of chizuk, he spoke about the virtues of mussar study and of constant working on one's avoda.
Chief Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau, who studied in the yeshiva when it was located in Zichron Yaakov, delivered greetings. He cited memories of the yeshiva's rabbonim, whom he called "rishonim kimal'ochim" -- "the first who are like angels."
The rosh yeshiva of Ateres Yisroel, HaRav Boruch Mordechai Ezrachi, who delivered chaburos in the yeshiva for twelve years, recalled with deep emotion his first encounters with the roshei yeshivos, HaRav Noach Shimanowitz, HaRav Eliyahu Lopian, HaRav Eliyahu Mishkovsky, and HaRav Uri Kellerman. He extolled their greatness as people: "Ish shel Torah. Ish shel tzidkus veyiras Shomayim." He then cited the words of Baal Haturim on the verse "lePhuvoh mishpachas haPuni," (Bamidbor 26,23) followed by "leYoshuv mishpachas haYoshuvi," explaining that the letter nun was added to the name Phuvoh due to the fact that all would turn to him -- ponim eilav to study Torah, while it is followed name Yoshuv whose name was really Yuv, but a shin was added since he was a baal yeshiva, to teach that this characteristic became an integral part of his essence. He then blessed Rav Dovid Mishkovsky, upholder of the yeshiva.
The final speaker was the rav of Rechasim and rosh yeshiva of its yeshiva ketana, HaRav M. Sonnenfeld, who delivered a blessing in the name of the middle generation of students.
The overall feeling was that the participants are still deeply linked to the place where they acquired Torah and chochmah and still regard it as home.
Praises were lavished upon the organizers of the assembly, who worked tirelessly on its behalf, and especially on producing the Sefer Yovel, which was distributed to the alumni. The book reviews the history of the yeshiva from the time of its founding until the present. The sefer can be obtained in the yeshiva's office.