Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

3 Adar I 5760 - February 9, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
They All Return to You
by N. Beer

Part III

We have met the varied participants of the daily Daf Yomi shiur and how it has influenced their lives. Reb Feivel, in his eighties, is recuperating from a heart attack. The members take turns visiting him.

When Motty's turn came to visit R' Feivel, he found him seated in an armchair near the bed, sipping some tea his son had prepared. Motty approached hesitantly, bashfully, feeling somewhat foolish. Some seventy years separated them, he thought to himself. But suddenly, R' Feivel noticed him and his eyes lit up. He became excited.

"Here, take this away," he said, holding the glass out to his son. He summoned all of his strength and raised himself slightly from his seat. "Buruch habo, Reb Muttel," he greeted him warmly. When had anyone ever called me `Reb'? mused Motty, pleased at the title. He felt complimented. Motty smiled sheepishly in reply.

"Could you find a chair for him? He is one of the important members of our daily shiur," said R' Feivel, turning to his son. He faced Motty again and said, "You can't imagine how much I miss it and its regular members."

"We miss you very much, too. Your absence is felt," said Motty, still embarrassed from all the attention he was getting.

"Do you know," continued R' Feivel, "whenever I see you, I am reminded of myself at your age. We lived in Warsaw and I was a clever young lad, but circumstances forced me to go out and work. I left the yeshiva and my good friends. I said good-bye to the gemora and the stender, and went out to support my widowed mother and five little brothers." Reb Feivel sighed and dabbed at some dampness in the corner of his eye with his handkerchief. He spoke softly, with effort, but forced himself to continue. "Despite my circumstances, I promised myself that not a day would go by without my studying from some sefer, be it gemora, mishna, chumash, Ein Yaakov. This resolution sustained me all the years until this very day. And when I see you, I can't help remembering myself at your age. Here, I tell myself, is another fellow who has been forced to go out and work for a living, yet, he, too, does not forsake his study. You are a fortunate fellow, Reb Mottel! All the credit to you!"

Motty nodded during the soliloquy, but now came his turn to speak. He told R' Feivel how greatly everyone was concerned about him. He retold an interesting aggadata they had learned, reviewed a difficult kasha and a brilliant insight R' Zev had proposed. When Motty saw R' Feivel tiring, he rose to leave and said, "We all hope to see you back with us very soon!"

Motty was disturbed. All the deference R' Feivel had shown him had been pleasant to his ego; the sensation was new to him. On the other hand, he felt as if he had deceived the old man. "He thinks that life's hardships have pushed me to go out to work. If he only knew that I was the one who chose this path, he wouldn't treat me like that," he thought bitterly.


The participants of the Daf Yomi shiur decided to hold their siyum on Bova Kama as a dual celebration of thanksgiving for R' Feivel's recovery and his renewed attendance. The tables were set tastefully and plentifully. Many outsiders filled the beis knessess on Rechov Beit Habechira 5. R' Zev spoke very movingly and invited the rabbis of the neighborhood and other dignitaries to say a few words of encouragement and confer their blessings. As the guests were partaking of the refreshments, compliments of Yechiel Ozeri's bakery, which, incidentally, now boasted a superior supervision, R' Dovid Cohen, the melamed, got up to speak. He held a sheet of paper in his hand, but offered some introductory remarks, "I wrote this when the inspiration struck me, and I think this is the appropriate time to read it to you. Here it is:

"They came here from all directions,

And absorbed from their study, a mutual affection,

So many worlds, such different kinds,

Each one thought, `Let us try and see what we find.'

They tried it for size, and stayed to grow wise

For the fountains of Torah is where all wisdom lies.

For Torah does satisfy hunger and thirst,

Torah can banish the yetzer hora's worst.

Torah revives like the rain, like the dew,

Torah's the treasure of the many and few.

They came with a cane or an attache case,

Some are with beards, others, a cleanshaven face,

Some are in overalls, others wear a suit,

But all come to learn our Torah's plentiful fruit,

One in his eighties, the other in his teens,

With all ages and descriptions right in between.

But early they rise, the Torah to learn,

For Torah is what makes the whole world turn."

R' Zev, the maggid shiur, looked at his students affectionately, remembering the first days. How absorbed each one had been in his own worries. Who could recognize this beaming R' Feivel as the depressed old man of yore? "This shiur makes me want to get up in the morning!" he had confided after some time. Next to him sat Abe Shorr, the famous lawyer, much more mellow and less self important than he had ever been. It was evident that his entire outlook on life, Torah and mitzvos had taken a pivotal change in the past months.

His gaze turned to Yoske, who looked very festive in his snowy white shirt. Yes, there certainly was reason to celebrate, R' Zev thought to himself. The shiur had given him added stature and self confidence. Most important, it had drawn him close to the light of the Torah.

When Dovid Cohen finished reading his poem, all the members of the shiur came forward to shake his hand warmly and congratulate him in his literary efforts. The only one who remained seated was Motty, who squirmed restlessly, exhibiting signs of inner turmoil. Suddenly, he rose and stood up straight, unlike the posture he usually sported.

"I am the youngest of the group," he began in a loud, confident tone, "and I truly feel unworthy of speaking before such a group of distiguished people, but I am unable to remain silent. The truth is that a boy like myself has no place here. I should really be in yeshiva. And that's what I'd like to tell you, today. I hope very soon to return to yeshiva, where I belong. My decision is really to your credit, gentlemen, to the way you accepted me as one of this fine group, on an equal footing. You respected me. You didn't interrogate me about my past or criticize me in any way, but treated me as an adult, even though I could easily be the son or grandson of most of you. Upon this occasion, I would like to take the opportunity of expressing my deep gratitude to my boss, R' Yaakov Shafer, who was sensitive and good-hearted enough to treat me so well and to help me along through my difficult period. He is the one who set me on the right path. I truly have no words to express the gratitude in my heart for all he has done for me." He stopped and sat down abruptly.

Motty's emotion was contagious. Tears glistened in the eyes of many and R' Yaakov was so overcome that he could not resist rushing over to Motty and embracing him heartily. Everyone crowded around the two. They knew that Motty, like all the others mentioned in Dovid Cohen's rhymes, had, thanks to that phenomenon called the Daf Yomi Shiur, found his true place.


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