Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

14 Tishrei 5764 - September 29, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Lomzha and the Mir, the Yeshiva and the City

by Rabbi Dov Eliach

Intimate conversations with Rabbi Meir Roch, formerly of Lomzha

Part I

Rabbi Dov Eliach has archival treasures worth their weight in gold. In the course of his Torah-research-documentary work, which has produced unique publications which have earned him the highest place of honor in Torah literature, he has documented in writing and recorded on tapes the testimonies of those who can tell firsthand about the Jewish world in Lithuania as it once was, especially in terms of the lifestyle and yeshiva experience there.

In this festival addition, Rabbi Eliach leads us on yet another journey into a world that is no more.

(Editorial note: The following is a translated transcription of a live conversation, and we have left the text faithful to the spoken word.)

Rabbi Dov Eliach: I met Rabbi Meir Roch, son of HaRav Yehoshua Zelig Roch of Lomzha, for the first time in Av, 5755 (1995). We were then seated in his office at the "Tempo" factory in Cholon, discussing other worlds, many thousands of miles distant from Cholon' and from chulin (everyday life).

Many years have gone by since Rabbi Meir occupied his seat in the hall of the Mir Yeshiva, yet the freshness of his Torah has not faded. Decades spent in the business world have not extinguished the spiritual vitality deep inside his heart. He is effusive with lively descriptions and true-to-life stories. These he tells with an endearing tranquility which changes only when he gets to an especially interesting anecdote or, even more, when he starts describing his ancestors and his great rebbeim, upon which his eyes sparkle with tears of emotion.

The wonderful recollections of that era inspired me to take a walk with him along the lanes of his memories. Hand in hand, or by word of mouth, we traversed that fascinating road from Lomzha to Mir, and from Mir to Vilna. We paid a visit to Radin and Seville, finally arriving in Petach Tikva. Here the circle of the Lomzha Yeshiva as we know it came to a close.

And indeed, I was not disappointed. As it says: "Od yenuvun beseivo, deshenim vera'ananim yiheyu" (They will still be fruitful in old age, vigorous and fresh they will be), and, boruch Hashem, the memories are raananim in Raanana too, the city he lives in, even in his advanced age, ad mei'oh ve'esrim.

"Up till only a few years ago," he told me then, "if a person wanted to get to know the Lomzha Yeshiva and he had no photographs or tapes, all he had to do was go sit beside Rebbe Yaakov Neuman (founder and rosh yeshiva of yeshivas Ohr Yisroel in Petach Tikva), be in his presence for a day and watch him, and then and there he would see Lomzha in front of his eyes, for he was the embodiment of the Lomzha Yeshiva!"

In the Image of Lomzha

The Rosh Yeshiva of Or Yisroel in Petach Tikva, HaRav Yaakov Neuman, studied in Lomzha Yeshiva, Poland for 13 years and we, as his talmidim in the yeshiva -- the younger ones breathed its spirit and atmosphere in the course of his numerous sichos. Names like HaRav Yechiel Mordechai Gordon and HaRav Moshe Rosenstein were our daily bread and butter.

It is of course only natural that in my explorations into the world of the Lomzha metropolis, I begin with a memorial to the one who was my dear esteemed mentor and rav, one of the outstanding personages of Lomzha in those times, and one of the great proponents of our heritage in our times.

Rabbi Meir indeed lived up to the challenge. He, who was raised inside the Lomzha palace, ruled with absolute finality:

To sit opposite Rebbe Yaakov Neuman for one day, just to be near him and watch him, was to see "Lomzha" itself -- that was the yeshiva!

There was no one to match him in absorbing the character and essence of Lomzha. Here and there, one person absorbed one thing, another something else, but the one who absorbed it to perfection was Rebbe Neuman. In other words, if he was your rebbe and you knew him, believe me you wouldn't need me, that was more than enough . . . Me, maybe I could help you a little with the facts, but that's all.

You mention the subject of the love for his talmidim (that Rebbe Neuman had), and for sure it was there, but let me add something more. In the yeshiva circles and in the circles of the rabbinate -- and you in your documentary work on the yeshivos must know this -- well, things did not always and in every area flow so smoothly. That is the nature of the world.

However, at the Lomzha Yeshiva, the amicable relations and sense of community that prevailed there, not only between the administration and the talmidim, but within the administration itself, rose to the level of the miraculous.

My uncle, the Gaon Rebbe Yechiel Mordechai Gordon was, what can I tell you -- I call him `my uncle' but he was not my uncle, he was my father! And that goes for my sisters, too. We were really all one household, that's how connected we were!

Let me give you an example. Rebbe Yechiel Mordechai's son was killed while he was learning at the Chevron Yeshiva here in Israel, and the news reached us back in Poland. My uncle was then in America for the Yeshiva, but the bochur's sisters knew about it by then, and the tragedy was immense. But we were extremely careful to keep the news from my mother for a whole week, and each one told the other again and again to watch out, `Op hitten!' (Be careful) that she should not choliloh find out, until we were no longer able to keep it from her.

Until my last day I will never forget the atmosphere of churban that permeated our house on the death of my cousin, the nephew. They genuinely mourned him like a son and grieved over him, because we were like one household, one unit.

When do you ever see such a thing, where two people, though they are brothers-in-law who run a single institution together, treat each other in such a way . . . They were one body, one body!

As Rabbi Meir speaks longingly of those days, he repeats himself over and over again, stressing the words, `one body!' and then continues:

I will tell you one amusing story. My uncle, as I said, had gone to America, and then the World War broke out and everyone was wiped out or disappeared. Years later, in the fifties (5710), I went over to America. I was then living in Belgium and was in constant touch with my uncle.

I arrived in America at about twelve o'clock midnight. My cousin was waiting for me at the port, with a few other people, family members. I did not look for a hotel or anything like that. I had come on business. But first and foremost I wanted to see my uncle.

Then I suggested to my cousin, since by the time I got out of Customs and we all got out, it was extremely late, past two o'clock in the morning, that perhaps I should not disturb my uncle. I would rather sleep that night in a hotel and tomorrow come by and see him. But my cousin only said, "No, no, my father will never agree to that . . . "

So we continued traveling, arriving at the house in the middle of the night, at close to three o'clock in the morning. And there was my uncle standing in the street outside, in the freezing cold of Brooklyn, waiting for me to come. I was completely shaken!

He saw me, and then he cried and I cried--we don't talk about that -- but I exclaim, "In mitten di nacht?" (In the middle of the night?).

My uncle whispers to me, "Don't be angry, I came out to welcome you, and really it was your mother and father that I came to welcome. They came here too . . ."

By the way, listen to what nobility this man possessed. Why was it not enough for him to wait for me inside his house, instead of troubling himself to go down and wait for me for such a long time in the treacherous cold?

This is how he explained it to me then: "I wanted to meet you before you came up to my house, and ask you if, when you address my wife, you could please call her `tante' (aunt)! She is so devoted to me, I really wanted to repay her in kind and make sure she has a close relationship with my family."

I must add here that this was his third wife. She was not really my aunt, but in his great kindness and nobility he wanted to honor her and repay her for her goodness. What an odom godol he was . . . what a baal middos . . . small wonder that they called him a `prince in the kingdom of Torah.'

The Mashgiach, Rebbe Moshe Rosenstein

Now I understand what you mean when you say Rebbe Yaakov Neuman was the reflection of Lomzha . . .

"Exactly!" he broke in. "That's just what I am telling you! He was what characterized it. Perhaps you could argue that it was a result of the family connection between them, and that relatives tend to get along. But take people who were not related to the family at all, for example, the Mashgiach, Rebbe Moshe Rosenstein. Was there ever any conflict between him and the others? None at all! Chas vecholiloh! We never saw the slightest shade of a dispute between any of the staff of the administration.

That is what I mean. Rebbe Yaakov Neuman was a living model of the Yeshiva and its way of life, and of everything that Lomzha was.

As for the character of the Mashgiach, well, as a bochur once told me, if there was ever someone who was a `contrast,' a complete antithesis to the usual concept of a mashgiach, it was Rebbe Moshe Rosenstein! He was a man of greatness, a baal mussar and a holy person, who for years and years would fast during the day and eat only at nights, and all kinds of other things--but a mashgiach he was not.

So what was his strength? He simply loved everyone, he was a man of mussar. This man could be lingering in the upper spiritual worlds even as he was speaking to you. He was a very exalted being, outstanding in his pursuit of mussar. But as for the qualities of a mashgiach, which Rebbe Yeruchom certainly possessed -- in that he knew every person inside out and even knew what we were thinking -- that he did not have.

Thus, all the influence he had, derived from his tremendous dedication to his talmidim. He was concerned about the bochurim. He shared in the simchah of each and every bochur, their worries were his worries, and everyone felt that they had someone who cared about them. He did not only ask the bochurim about spiritual matters, he would also ask them, "What have you eaten?" What an exalted man he was!

This brings me to another feature I found in Lomzha, whose like I have never seen in any other place. I refer to the friendly relations between the talmidim. They really felt like brothers, like one unit. I think it was a consequence of the image that the rosh yeshivas presented to us, as I mentioned before, the relationship between the staff of the administration. For there were no grievances, breaches or outcries, just real friendship and solidarity, even when there was something that they might have disagreed on. And that was projected to the talmidim.

Therefore, for example, when a talmid became sick and was niftar, all of us, the whole yeshiva, were devastated with grief and anguish as if it were their own brother. The yeshiva almost fell apart in its pain and sorrow. The sedorim were not real sedorim, the food did not taste like not real food, nothing worked. It was like one family steeped in mourning. There was never such a thing in any other place. And that is a fact.

The Mashgichim of the Mir

Later, when I went on to the Mirrer Yeshiva, I saw the administration there, and here too was impressed and full of admiration. These people, though they are not distant from us in a historical sense -- only forty, fifty years back -- were a different breed altogether, a different breed! I will give you an example, which involved Rebbe Yechezkel Levenstein.

As is commonly known, the Gaon Hatzaddik Rebbe Yeruchom Levovitz left the Mir at the time of the First World War, escaped to Russia and then stayed in Radin for some time. Rebbe Yechezkel Levenstein took his place [in Mir] and gave the sichos for about six years, until Rebbe Yeruchom came back.

During the time the sichos were given at the Mir, the bochurim would circle around the Mashgiach, with most already having a chazokoh on their standing position, especially the alter bochurim, who all had their own place. Then, the minute Rebbe Yeruchom came into the hall, Rebbe Yechezkel went back and stood around like one of the bochurim, exactly ke'avdo kamei morei (like a servant before his master), to hear the words of Rebbe Yeruchom, as if it had never been he who had been the speaker up till now.

Today when one talks about this, it is beyond comprehension. Had he not been, until that moment, the center of everything -- the spiritual principal, the Mashgiach, and the one who gave the sichos? Then suddenly he was on the other side, standing among the crowd, like a servant in front of his master. That is true greatness!

At the time, as we were discussing this, Rebbe Eliyohu Chazan, then one of the older bochurim, pointed to the awesome greatness of Rebbe Yechezkel Levenstein and how it was embodied in this special occasion. I, as a young boy, added that it also showed remarkable greatness on the part of Rebbe Yeruchom. To absorb the connotations of such a deed and such a person, and then muster up the strength to stand up and speak, takes great wisdom. Another person would not have known how to handle such a situation.

I comment to Rav Meir how fascinating it is to hear more and more about the wonderful personality of HaRav Yeruchom. However much you hear about him, his talmidim will always add more novel and amazing things that you had not heard . . . In response, Rabbi Meir comes up with some further testimony:

Let me tell you another story about Rebbe Yeruchom and his immense wisdom. I told you that I attended the levayoh of the Chofetz Chaim. Lomzha did not have the transportation to enable the public at large to attend, there was only a taxi that transported the major rebbeim of the city there. Being a young boy, I was able to slip in and sit next to the driver and that's how I got to Radin.

My father was in Eretz Yisroel at the time, at a branch of the Lomzha Yeshiva that had been established in Petach Tikva, so those who traveled with us in the vehicle were my uncle (Rebbe Yechiel Mordechai Gordon), HaRav Moshe Shatzkes, the Lomzha Rov, and HaRav Dovid Taibel Daynovsky, the rov of the neighboring town of Malacher. I was then just an unruly lad, and my uncle took me and introduced me to the mashgiach of the Mir, Rebbe Yeruchom, saying: "We are thinking of sending him to you next year."

My cousin Shneur Gordon was present at that occasion. He was a talmid of the Mir who had come from his yeshiva to the levayoh, and was later murdered in Israel while he was studying at the Chevron Yeshiva. I told him then that, with Elul and the chagim coming up, he should come with us to Lomzha, instead of going back to the Mir. Rebbe Yeruchom, who had just heard a few moments earlier, "that this candidate wishes to come to you next year" asked me: "Und vos iz mit Elul? (And what about Elul?)" I answered: "He could learn with us as well . . . "'

And indeed, after a year, I really did go to him, and he commented, in his great wisdom, "Aha!!"

Here, Mr. Roch utters an exclamation of admiration-- "There was so much sweetness in his words!"

How much you have changed since last year. It is hard for me to believe that this is the same boy that I met before!

On the one hand, he was telling me that he remembered how rough and disheveled I looked then, and on the other hand he was giving me a chance to turn over a new leaf . . .

Once again Rav Meir exclaims in amazement: That "Aha," I will never forget. How wise he was to tell me, "Listen mister! I know and I have heard, and I haven't forgotten, and don't you think . . . ? But . . . but . . . now you are entirely different!"

That was Rebbe Yeruchom.

With HaRav Chaim Ozer in Vilna

Since R' Roch had mentioned the levayoh of the Chofetz Chaim, I throw in a question on that subject: "Do you remember the leyayoh itself?"

"Yes, of course. All the roads led to it. There were crowds and crowds of people, and hespedim all day long, from morning till night. I remember Rebbe Moshe Shatzkes, the Kriniker Rov (HaRav Chizkiyohu Mishkovsky), and Rebbe Yeruchom as well, giving hespedim, and many others. But the Gaon HaTzaddik Rebbe Chaim Ozer was not at the leyayoh, as is commonly known.

You don't remember the hespedim themselves?

No, no, I cannot give over something if it is not clear to me. But I have a strong memory of Rebbe Chaim Ozer Grodzensky, on another occasion!

In 5695 (1935), my cousin's wedding was celebrated in Vilna, the daughter of Rebbe Yechiel Mordechai Gordon. This was at a time when her father was in America collecting for the yeshiva. However, as I told you, our two houses were like one so we married her off in her father's stead. She married Rav Eizel Vilner, one of the oldest and most outstanding bochurim in the Mirrer Yeshiva.

`Eizel Vilner' had already by then become a name in the yeshiva world, and Rebbe Chaim Ozer thought very highly of him, and said of him: "Dos iz der godol! (He is the godol!)." His father was the rosh yeshiva in Rameilles, Vilna, and had died young, upon which Rebbe Chaim Ozer had adopted him as his own son and of course he attended the wedding. It took place in the summer, at the resort town of Druskenik. Also present were HaRav Shimon Shkop and HaRav Boruch Ber Leibowitz, among others.

It was by no means certain that I would be able to attend the wedding, since it was a question of money, which my parents did not have. But I was then struggling with an eye injury, and Rebbe Yeruchom, who was going to the wedding from the Mir told me: "Come on, I will take you to the wedding. And once we are in Vilna, we will go and see Dr. Rozhin, Rav Chaim Ozer's doctor." So I went to the doctor and he bound up my eye, so that half my face was swathed in bandages.

In Vilna I met my father. We went together to see Rebbe Chaim Ozer and I sent him regards from Dr. Rozhin. He immediately took an interest: "And what's the matter with your eye?" I told him: "I have a slight infection, but the doctor says it will be all right."

Now we get to the real story, which was typical of Rebbe Chaim Ozer.

This incident with my eye, that I mentioned, happened in 1935 (5695). The second time I saw Rebbe Chaim Ozer was in 1940, when we fled to Vilna to escape the German occupation.

The street he lived in was so crowded that it was impossible to get in to him. We had to stand in a very long line just to get to his door. Everything to do with the yeshivos, the bochurim, the people, all issues went through him.

Now, five years had passed since I had last seen him. Let us consider that, during those years, Rebbe Chaim Ozer had seen tens of thousands of people, which is no exaggeration. Furthermore, you yourself know what changes a person goes through between the ages of 15 and 20. Add to that a third factor, that my face had been half covered in bandages that first time.

Yet when I finally go in, through the masses of people, to Rebbe Chaim Ozer's room, he looks at me, and right away, on the spot, says: "I told you it would go away, and it would be fine!" Just as if I had seen him the day before about my eye problem!

Later on, I related all this to Rav Eizel Vilner and he who, as I said, had been raised in Rebbe Chaim Ozer's house, told me that it was typical of him to throw a quick glance and say, "Nu, I told you" . . . just as if it had happened one day earlier.

Nu, what do you have to say about that wonderful inspiring memory? Rabbi Meir quizzes me in wonderment.

And let's not forget that he was then at an advanced age, it was a year, or a year-and-a-half before his passing. I came out of there completely stunned, into the crowds, the thousands and thousands who were converging on the city waiting to see him.

It only strengthens everything they say about him, that he could write two letters at a time, at the same time as he was answering a person's shailoh who was there in front of him, and other such stories!

Yes, for sure, they are not exaggerated. They also say that when he lost his ledger with all its records, he copied out the whole thing from memory. All the stories are authentic, and everyone who came in contact with him saw this for themselves. That was who he was.

Lomzha as a Center for Torah

Now, let's go back to Lomzha. How was the yeshiva set up?

The shiurim began from the class known as shiur beis, because there was no shiur alef. After that came shiur gimmel-alef and gimmel-beis and then the fourth and fifth shiur that were almost the same, except that in the fourth they did not learn Kodshim. Both were given by my father and my uncle.

The second shiur was meant for those between around the ages of about 21 and 31, though all in all it was also dependent on each person's individual level. It is actually equivalent to what is today known as yeshiva ketanoh.

Why did they need categorizations like gimmel-alef and gimmel-beis? I don't know. When I came it was set up like that; that's how it was.

Were those two years spent with the same maggid shiur?

Yes. And then there was the fifth shiur, the kibbutz, these were boys who had been learning for years, even as many as twenty.

And where had they been learning before they came to Lomzha?

Well, each one came from a different place, either he had learned in a yeshiva ketana or he hadn't learnt in any other yeshiva. It wasn't like the Mir Yeshiva where everyone had come there from established yeshivas. You should read the book by Rabbi Dov Katz. There is a whole chapter in it about my grandfather, Rebbe Eliezer Shulevitz. He really explains what the shittah was like then. My grandfather was a talmid of Rebbe Yisroel Salanter -- one of his last talmidim, actually. And he went on to found other yeshivas.

My grandfather was extremely active, and he organized many yeshiva ketanas around Lomzha. He appointed rosh yeshivas in Kolna, Greiba, and several other such towns, with ten or more talmidim. The plan was for them to learn there for a year or two, and then be transferred to the center in Lomzha. I still remember a few of those yeshiva ketanas from my time. Some people say that the Alter of Novardok came to get instruction from him on how to construct this yeshiva system, and then duplicated it himself with outstanding results.

In his old age, my grandfather Rebbe Eliezer went to Eretz Yisroel, in 5684 or 5685 (1925 or 1926), and became head of the branch of the yeshiva in Petach Tikva. The reasons for this were manifold: On the one hand, grandfather wanted to emigrate to Israel at the end of his life, although he was by then old and frail. On the other hand, the Polish army was a constant threat to the proper functioning of the yeshiva.

This problem of the Polish army was most terrible and devastating for the yeshiva boys. I remember when I was a child, I was told that one of the reasons for setting up the branch was to provide a shelter for those forced to flee from the forced conscription to the military. Finally my father and uncle decided to go ahead with the plan, and they chose the city of Petach Tikva, because the plot of land there had been donated to the yeshiva.

At that time, my father, Rav Yehoshua Zelig, was supposed to immigrate to Israel with him, so they could administer the yeshiva together. He had previously managed to visit there on two occasions, in 5689 (1929) at the time of these happenings, and then again in 5691 (1931). But the situation in Poland became more complex, and my uncle had to travel to America after the yeshiva became embroiled in heavy debts, so my father had to remain in Lomzha as it was impossible to leave the yeshiva.

The Fruits of Lomzha

Who were the famous personalities in the yeshiva, among the bochurim?

Well you see, when you say prominent personalities, there are two types. One, those who became famous later on, and then retroactively became famous personalities. Then there were those who in those days were very outstanding, but their future was not necessarily so.

Also, there were those who in their youth were not especially conspicuous and later became so: There is one like that among us today. No one knew anything about him in the yeshiva. He was just one of a hundred. But because various circumstances occurred in his life, he has become today a person of great stature.

So these definitions are very limited, and very relative. If you ask me a question like that, I find it very difficult to answer. But with all of that, I can point to a few names, Rav Yaakov Neuman, Rav Gershon Rotinker, and Rav Gershon Fishman, who was the rov in Herzliya, and son-in-law of Rebbe Elya Dushnizer.

I can point out a lot more names. Those who lived here in Israel of the talmidim of Lomzha are no longer with us: HaRav Ephraim Sokolover, the rov of Raanana, and Rov Dov Maayane. Out of my father's senior talmidim in particular, from Russia, there were HaRav Aaron Cohen of the Chevron Yeshiva, HaRav Karol of Kfar Chassidim and then later the rov of Chemed, and rosh yeshiva of Haifa, HaRav Meir Robman.

What do you mean, Russia? Was there a yeshiva in Russia at the time of the First World War?

Yes, there was a yeshiva in Charkov for five years. My uncle stayed in Lomzha, but my father went with the majority of the bochurim and they crossed the border to Russia. That was the policy, to split the yeshiva up, because they were uncertain as to the best course of action.

My grandfather, Rebbe Lazer, also went with my parents to Russia. When I came to Israel during the Second World War, I stayed first with HaRav Robman, and then spent Shabbos as a guest of HaRav Karol's in Kfar Chassidim. These two talmidim, who had immigrated together to Israel, had also studied at the branch in Petach Tikva.

Other exceptional talmidim whom I knew from Lomzha in Poland were HaRav Yechiel Vishkiver-Wilensky, Rav Shrage Feivel Abramson and others.

What about the Rav of Lomzha, Rebbe Aharon Bakst?

In my time, those who served in the rabbonus of Lomzha were Rebbe Aharon Bakst, and after him Rebbe Moshe Shatzkes. HaRav Bakst, who was one of the outstanding talmidim of the Alter of Slobodka, was a gaon in both Torah and in mussar. He actually never left his seat. He first went to London and from there he never came back, only went on to Seville. Well, you know, when you mention him you are talking about a very special friendship.

He would sometimes come to the yeshiva to give a shiur or a shmuess, especially on mussar, and in particular during Elul, when they honored him to give the his'orerus. My father and uncle gave him a special kind of kovod, reserved for him. He also had a kollel for avreichim, most of whom were boys from the yeshiva, but it was not easy for him with the townspeople.

I was the last one to be zoche to see him alive, after World War II broke out. It happened when I came to visit Seville after I escaped from Poland. Seville was still a functioning city, a few months before the Germans invaded Lithuania. Lomzha had already been destroyed by then.

I came to see him, and he already knew about all this churban. And there I was sitting with him, and his daughter and her husband HaRav Rabinowitz. And he was just sitting and sighing and weeping, sighing and weeping--saying over and over, "Oy vei, vei, vei iz mir, vei iz mir." All of a sudden, he exclaimed longingly, "If only I could have stayed in Lomzha . . . "

I was astonished, and I said, "Lomzha? Lomzha has been destroyed . . . '

Rabbi Aharon answered me, "S'iz besser in churba Lomzha mit der vassertrager (It is better to be in the destruction in Lomzha together with the water-drawer)."

He was so consumed with longing for those wonderful days in Lomzha. Even though I told him that the city was by now a heap of ruins from the German bombings, he kept on repeating: "To lie under the ruins with Avrohom Moshe der shamash" . . . meaning, how very much I would like to be zocheh to that now.

Avrohom Moshe was the shamash of the yeshiva; and he was the water-drawer just mentioned. I later thought much about what he meant and scrutinized each word in my mind. He did not mention the head of the community, nor any of the honorary or most powerful members of the city. He did not get on with them well, anyway. He only got on with the yeshiva. Neither did he even mention my father or my uncle in this context, because it was no chiddush that he desired to be in their proximity. He only spoke of "Avrohom Moshe der shamash!"

It was because everything connected to the yeshiva was so important and precious to him, certainly preferable in his eyes to the present dismal situation in Seville.

He was not happy in Seville. The community was not his kind of community. He missed Lomzha terribly. He had very deep connections with the yeshiva and its world, also through the kolel of avreichim that he ran, which consisted mostly of talmidim from the yeshiva.

He also expressed himself very movingly then: "HaRav Yechiel Mordechai and Rebbe Yehoshua Zelig -- the brothers were not so close to me."

And that was indeed true. He was by nature a rosh yeshiva and he missed that in Seville. Although at times the rov of the city would arrive and gather a bunch of talmidim around him, that did not happen in Seville.

End of Part I


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