Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

2 Tammuz 5766 - June 28, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








HaRav Shteinman's Trip to Kehillos Yisroel Abroad: Chinuch Guidance for Troubled Times

by Rabbi Yisroel Friedman

Maran HaRav Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman's joint trip abroad with the Gerrer Rebbe produced tremendous chizuk for those who were there: the thousands from the various communities who participated in the gatherings held with gedolei Yisroel. That undoubtedly produced powerful forces, but that impact was clearly strongest on those who were there. On the other hand, the trip produced another legacy whose importance is just about the same for those who read about it later as for those who were there in person: the remarks of gedolei Yisroel on the issues of the day. Due to our space limitations, we have chosen to focus on those. Here are the answers given by HaRav Shteinman to questions submitted to him at the Torah Umesorah convention, one of the major stops of the trip. The Gerrer Rebbe did not attend that convention, and in general did not speak as much as HaRav Shteinman, but we have brought what we were able to get of his remarks.

At the Torah Umesorah Convention

Yom Chamishi, 20th Iyar 5766. After a long drive through the forests, it was evening by the time HaRav Shteinman and his entourage arrived at the hotel in the Catskills where the Torah Umesorah convention was in progress. Their arrival was brought forward by half a day, so as to enable HaRav Shteinman to have a few hours of rest.

Two major gatherings were scheduled. First, at eight-thirty p.m. would be the largest meeting of mechanchim of the trip, which would also be relayed to dozens of locations across the country. The gathering was to be addressed by the Novominsker Rebbe. Rav Shlomo Gottesman would read out the questions submitted by the mechanchim and HaRav Osher Weiss would be translating and explaining HaRav Shteinman's responses. Late at night, following ma'ariv, there would be a meeting of cheder principals to discuss contemporary problems with HaRav Shteinman.

There are so many cities where Yidden live and they are home to so many kehillos — each one different, with its own needs, circumstances and problems. Yet the goal is the same everywhere — to train our youth to live Torah lives, lives dedicated to pure, unadulterated Torah goals and ideals. How can this be achieved in view of the ever- growing array of spiritual dangers threatening our communities the world over?

The chairman, Rav Shlomo Gottesman, read out questions that had been handed in by members of the audience of mechanchim. HaRav Shteinman sat at the head table, flanked by members of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of America and responded. He spoke about young children with great souls, and about the huge responsibility entrusted to teachers. He spoke about the need for sacrifice and dedication in order to influence their tender hearts. As question followed question and the minutes ticked by, the picture grew clearer, ideas crystallized and the participants began looking to the future with firmer resolve.

Teachers' Status and Salary

Rav Gottesman: In view of the fact that people don't see teaching as a prestigious calling and, in addition, it isn't usually very rewarding financially, can the Rosh Yeshiva give the teachers an encouraging message to fortify them in their holy work?

HaRav Shteinman: "And those who benefit the public [will shine] like stars forever" (Doniel 12:3). The gemora applies this posuk to those who teach young children Torah (Bava Basra 9). While this is not how many people esteem teachers, the way they look at things isn't always the right way.

I've heard the Chofetz Chaim quoted as having cited proof that the way people view things is not the way the Torah views them. If a child causes damage, people feel that his father should pay for it but that's not the din — the father isn't obliged to pay. If someone's cat did damage — for example it drank another person's milk — people imagine that the owner is not responsible. What fault is it of his if his cat did damage? But that's not the din. If a cat ate food its owner must pay, whereas if a child does damage his father doesn't have to pay — exactly the opposite of what people think. The Chofetz Chaim brought this as proof that the Torah's outlook does not fit the way people look at things.

It's the same with everything. People think that it's no distinction to be a teacher — but the Torah says that a teacher is very distinguished! If other people don't esteem him, to which should one pay more attention: To what is important in Hashem's eyes or to what is important to other people?

Hashem considers teachers very important indeed, so it's no reason to feel crushed if other people don't esteem him sufficiently and don't accord him the distinction that he truly deserves. The main thing is that he is important in Hashem's eyes.

As to teachers' financial difficulties — certainly it's very difficult. However, I once heard from the Chazon Ish that when they established the Fourth Stream in Eretz Yisroel (there were four educational streams, that identified with different parties; the Agudas Yisroel- Chinuch Atzmai stream was known as the Fourth Stream) the Chazon Ish was opposed to it. He told me that one of the reasons he opposed it (it wasn't the only reason) was that when a teacher has to struggle to support himself, it's a greater help in obtaining Heavenly assistance [in his teaching].

The greater the effort that a teacher expends in learning and instilling [Torah] in the children, despite his own straitened circumstances, the more assistance he is given towards succeeding. [Conversely,] the easier his financial circumstances the less success he has. That's what he told me.

Of course he needs a livelihood but living frugally and not so expansively also brings him greater success in educating the children. The more comfortable he is, the less he succeeds. (Of course, one shouldn't seek ways to limit his livelihood — may Hashem help him support himself. All the Chazon Ish said was that if that is how things are — if his situation is that he is lacking — it helps him succeed with the children. Obviously this doesn't exonerate the community from ensuring that teachers can support themselves.)

The truth is that it's the same in secular education. No teachers receive fat salaries; teachers are not well-paid the world over. They're usually at the lower end of the wage scale. It's the way of the world. A person must lovingly accept whatever he has. May Hashem help him support himself.

I once heard a parable from the Chofetz Chaim. If a person is in a difficult situation and tries with all his might to extricate himself, he is like a handcuffed prisoner on his way to jail trying to escape. What will his efforts achieve? The more he tries to get away the more entangled he gets and things become worse. That's how it is with a person. The harder he tries to escape his shackles the more entrapped he becomes.

A person can't break away. He must be aware that what Hakodosh Boruch Hu gives him is what he'll have. He can't get away even if he wants to. Everything comes from Heaven! What's been decreed for him is what will be! If he thinks he'll grow rich by getting involved in other pursuits, there's no proof whatsoever that it will help him. If this is what has been decreed for him, that's what he'll have. Everybody needs to pray that he has a livelihood and may Hakodosh Boruch Hu help everyone obtain a living.

How Important Is Instilling Yiras Shomayim?

Q. With regard to fear of Heaven — is a teacher expected to put all his efforts into seeing that his disciples understand gemora, Rashi and Tosafos clearly, or should he also make an effort to instill some yiras Shomayim into them?

A. Chazal say, "A thousand students enter to study Scripture and one emerges who is capable of rendering halachic rulings." Out of the thousand that start off learning Chumash a single talmid chochom emerges. Thus, if a teacher puts all his efforts into the other part of learning and nothing into instilling yiras Shomayim, only one [student] will emerge [highly accomplished]. All his work will only yield one [accomplished scholar].

If he makes an effort to instill yiras Shomayim as well, then [the] nine hundred and ninety-nine will also emerge [with something to show]. So what's better, nine hundred and ninety-nine or one?

The truth however is different. If one truly great scholar emerges it is worth more than everything else. The proof is from the posuk's account of Yosef bringing his sons, Efraim and Menasheh, to Yaakov for a blessing. When Yaakov wanted to place his right hand on Efraim's head, Yosef told him, "Not like that, Father, for this one [Menasheh] is the firstborn; put your hand on his head" (Bereishis 48:18). But Yaakov was insistent and placed his right hand on Efraim's head. He told Yosef, "I know, my son, I know; he [Menasheh] will also become great . . ." (posuk 19). Rashi explains that Menasheh's greatness would come in the person of Gideon, who rescued Yisroel, whereas [Yaakov's comment about Efraim] — "his younger brother will be greater than him and all the nations will hear about his descendant" — refers to Yehoshua, who taught Klal Yisroel Torah and gave them possession of the Land.

It's not a matter of whether Efraim or Menasheh has great numbers. It depends on one thing only — that Yehoshua came from Efraim and Gideon came from Menasheh. One man [out of the whole tribe] — Yehoshua who taught Klal Yisroel Torah and put them in possession of the Land and Menasheh's descendant Gideon, who rescued Klal Yisroel when things were difficult. Who was greater? Efraim, because his descendant would teach Torah!

At any rate we don't speak about the rest of the people. We don't say that Efraim had more talmidei chachomim. It refers to just one person! Apparently, a single individual determines it. One great individual determines the matter for an entire group, more than all the rest.

One person emerged from Menasheh — Gideon, and one from Efraim — Yehoshua. What about all the rest? It should write how many members of the tribe of Menasheh there were and how many there were in Efraim and how many talmidei chachomim one had more than the other? But no! One great leader, that's everything! One Gideon and one Yehoshua; this implies that that is the most important thing.

All this refers to the type of person [of towering stature] who encompasses everything. One such person outweighs everybody else. But things are not usually like that. [Usually,] it's more important that there should be more yirei Shomayim. If one knows that a Yehoshua will emerge, then one Yehoshua is certainly more important than everything else!

You are American Yidden. You certainly know that one Reb Aharon Kotler came and wrought a revolution. One Reb Aharon arrived and transformed America. If there had been fifty others, none of them Reb Aharons, they wouldn't have been able to achieve what a single Reb Aharon did! Why? Because of the idea we've been discussing.

A single man of Reb Aharon's stature was able to transform America! Had fifty others come, lesser talmidei chachomim than he was, they wouldn't have been able achieve much. It just needs one Reb Aharon. One Efraim outweighs the world.

And who represents Efraim? His descendant Yehoshua, who taught Klal Yisroel Torah and put them in possession of the Land. We thus see that one tremendously great man is a different matter entirely. However, we usually look at what's most beneficial for the group.

Instilling Yiras Shomayim

Q. How can yiras Shomayim be instilled?

A. With regard to yiras Shomayim, it is of course impossible to "inject" it into the children [automatically]. There is only one way. The Dubner Maggid writes that he asked the Vilna Gaon how to influence a community — obviously, to inspire them with greater yiras Shomayim, for that was a maggid's task.

The Gaon responded with a parable. A person has a large cup surrounded by smaller cups that he wants to fill. As long as the large cup isn't full it can't fill the smaller cups. Only if the large cup is full to overflowing will the contents spill over and pour into the small cups as well.

Unless a person isn't full of yiras Shomayim himself he will not be able to influence others. If one wants to influence others one has to be very great in yiras Shomayim oneself; then it will spill over and rub off onto others as well.

There is therefore no such thing as simply "teaching" yiras Shomayim. First one has to be full of yiras Shomayim oneself. Only then will it spill over onto one's talmidim. The Maggid learned this from the Gaon and so it is in practice. Pupils will learn from any teacher who truly fears Heaven but if the teacher just speaks about yiras Shomayim without being a good example of what he's saying, nothing whatsoever will spill over! The main thing is that a person "fills" himself.

It's very good to [privately] learn a little mussar before learning with the talmidim, not even for very long, but ten to fifteen minutes at least. This is what is written about the Chasam Sofer, who was such a great man but who still learned Chovos Halevovos for the first ten to fifteen minutes, according to his biographies. Every day before delivering his shiur he'd learn Chovos Halevovos for ten to fifteen minutes.

This has two effects. First the teacher elevates himself and second, he elevates his talmidim. But if he gives others mussar without elevating himself it's very difficult . . . It doesn't work. It's artificial. He has to fill himself, then it overflows to his talmidim. When he's full of yiras Shomayim his talmidim will absorb it when he teaches Shor shenagach es haporoh as well. It doesn't only have to be [teaching] mussar. If he is full it will spill over to the talmidim.

Joining Students at Play

Q. Is it correct for a teacher to play games together with his talmidim?

A. It is forbidden! If a teacher plays with talmidim he is cheapened in their eyes and when that happens he can't be their teacher under any circumstances. He thinks he's doing something good by relating to them as their friend, but it isn't so. His esteem drops in their eyes. There has to be respect for a teacher. If there's no respect there's nothing. This is true even for young children. By playing with young children one becomes a child . . . one becomes kinderish, childish.

It's written that Rav Chaim Volozhiner zt'l said that even though on the one hand a person has to be humble and feel himself to be small, when it comes to students and other people he should maintain a certain distance or else he won't have any influence whatsoever. He needs to be aware within himself that he really is small but when it comes to dealing with those who are inferior to him he must hold himself a little taller.

One can't befriend ordinary people who are not on any kind of [spiritual] level. One has to be higher and more elevated than they are. I've seen this [written] in Rav Chaim's name.

There is a halochoh that a distinguished person may not do work in front of three other people. The reason for this is that it is demeaning. It's human nature that when someone becomes demeaned people feel no respect for him — with the result that he won't have any influence. Although one should see himself as being small, when it comes to influencing others it's different; there has to be a distance.

In many places there's clowning and joking. They think that that's the way to capture the children's hearts. But it's no good at all! All the talmidim learn from it are the jokes because they enjoy the jokes. They learn to clown and joke but not how to be serious. That's no good at all. Is clowning our goal? The children learn to be clowns; they learn not to be serious, nor to think about anything serious.

One must realize that to make a joke once in a yovel may possibly be in order. But to make a habit of clowning? Does a teacher think he'll win the children over that way? They learn to be clowns. Is that our goal?

Class Trips

Q. How often should students be taken on trips, to relieve the tension of studying?

A. Going on trips is not the Torah's way but there may sometimes be a situation that is "a time to act for Hashem" (Tehillim 119:126) [temporarily leaving the preferred course in order to ultimately strengthen Torah — Brochos 54, Rashi beg. "Ve'omeir eis la'asos"]. But it's not right for this to be a matter of routine.

What then? Should we say that since the children have learned well we'll reward them with a piece of pig's meat to eat? Is that good? Is that considered a reward? It's eating chazir!

Neglecting Torah study is chazir. But sometimes it might be "a time to act for Hashem." One can do it as a "one- off" but not too much. Maybe once in a yovel . . . it's impossible to follow a course that's different from what the Torah demands.

Rabbenu Yonah tells you something awe-inspiring about this. The mishnah in Ovos (3:10) says, "Rabbi Dosa ben Horkenos says, `Sleeping in the morning, drinking wine in the afternoon and children's chatter . . . take a person out of the world.' " Rabbenu Yonah comments, "What was man created for? Solely to occupy himself with Torah which gives length of days and years of life. If he involves himself in such pursuits (that the mishnah mentions) what does he need life for? He deserves to be harassed from the world for he is worthless and his days are worthless."

He brings an awe-inspiring parable! A king gave his servant a present. The servant threw it into the sea and then went back to the king and asked for another present. Fool! He gave you a present and you threw it into the sea and then you come and ask again?

Rabbenu Yonah is telling us, "Hakodosh Boruch Hu gave you the gift of life — enough to learn Torah — and you threw your days into the sea, wasting them on trivia — and then you ask, "Please give me more life." But Hakodosh Boruch Hu says, "What should I give you life for? Why, you throw your life into the sea; what do you want?" That's Rabbenu Yonah's message.

So with regard to trips, maybe once in a yovel if it's "a time to act for Hashem," a trip can be arranged because there's no choice. But as a regular feature certainly not. There were no such things in earlier generations. For our generation, which is slightly different, perhaps once in a while if one sees that there's no choice because "it's a time to act for Hashem," but not too much.

Handling Insolence

Q. How should one react to a child who responds insolently? Should he be punished accordingly or may his teacher overlook it, even though if he does so his standing may be lowered in the eyes of the other pupils?

A. First, I've already said in a number of places here in America that there's no such thing as an insolent child. It's stuff and nonsense. A child isn't insolent. Every child is interested in learning and wants to be well-behaved. There isn't a single child who wants to be bad. But what sometimes happens is that he's under too much pressure and he says something disrespectful. He doesn't mean to be insolent. He's trying to protect himself and the only way out he can find is to use a sharp expression. But he doesn't want to be bad.

All children want to be good. There is no such thing as a "bad" child — perhaps one out of a huge number. We are told that Eisov was no good even before he was born but not everyone is like Eisov was. A child usually wants to be good. He comes to cheder or to yeshiva — wherever it is — he wants to be good. But it can happen that he's pushed too hard and something was said against him. So, it isn't good to put on too much pressure. That's the first thing.

Now, even if he has actually been insolent, if the teacher yells at him because of his own wounded pride it will have no beneficial effect whatsoever! It will boomerang. He will lose the child's respect because the child sees that his teacher is concerned with his own pride. If he remains silent however, the child will respect him. He'll feel that his teacher is a decent person. Even if he doesn't say so, in his heart he recognizes the truth.

Teachers should realize that the children are the ones with the greatest awareness of their teacher's character! They have the sensitivity to discern whether or not the teacher is behaving correctly.

I once heard from the Chazon Ish that the Chasam Sofer did not want to make any outward demonstration of the love that he bore his talmidim. He explained that the householders are often annoyed with their rov, yet they don't dare make trouble for him. If the householders knew how much he loved his talmidim though, they would make trouble for them instead. That's what the Chazon Ish said.

Clearly, a teacher has to love his talmidim. It's beneficial if he loves them for they will change. If he doesn't love them but just delivers his shiur and leaves, if he feels no personal connection with the talmid — he can often arrive tired or preoccupied with other matters, just deliver the material that he has to teach and then move on — his influence on the talmid will certainly be weaker because the talmid knows whether or not his teacher loves him. This is something that teachers must work on. It's no simple thing.

Advance Preparation

Q. If a teacher teaches the same material every year and is in full command of it, does he still need to invest time in preparing the shiur, or can he use that time to learn something else?

A. The material must be so very clear to him. It isn't enough to have taught it many times. He must review the material again and seek techniques for conveying it clearly to the talmid. If he gives the material over dryly, just repeating it and the child doesn't grasp it, there's no discipline. The children won't listen and naturally, they'll talk among themselves. When the teacher prepares the material thoroughly, the child is pleased, he enjoys it and everything is as it should be. The teacher should ignore the fact that he's taught the material fifty times already.

HaRav Shmuel Rozovsky zt'l was a tremendous gaon and a wonderful rosh yeshiva. He once told me that even he had to review the Rashba, the Rambam and the Rashi every time. Even though he'd already learned it so many times, he still needed that extra review. His delivery was better this way. He felt freshness upon getting into the topic. Otherwise, even though he knew it and had learned it many times it wasn't enough. Rav Shmuel told me that!

That's how every teacher should be. He must review the material once again and plan how to give it over, how to explain it to the talmid — then it'll be worthwhile. Otherwise, if he's just going through it by rote it's not worth a thing.

Upbraiding in Public

Q. Is it correct to shame a talmid in front of his classmates to get him to learn or to improve his behavior?

A. Shaming a talmid is highly undesirable. It can cause damage that can take years to undo. Sometimes it inflicts an emotional wound that is very difficult to heal and can do the child great harm. Do you have any idea how many talmidim say, even years afterwards, that Teacher Ploni shamed them and that they still aren't themselves as a result? That's a very great loss.

Some teachers think that a child is something like a doll, but a child is a neshomoh! You can't take a neshomoh and play games with it! One musn't play around with neshomos.

Teachers must be aware that every child is a holy neshomoh belonging to Hakodosh Boruch Hu. Holy neshomos, Yiddishe kinderlach that He has sent us. We must respect them and not shame them chas vecholiloh but relate to them lovingly.

I once heard a parable to explain this, in the name of a very great man. The gemora (Bava Kama 62) says that if someone gives a golden dinar to a woman and tells her that it's made of silver and she went and damaged it, she has to pay for a golden one. She can't say, "I thought it was made of silver." Even if it had been only silver, is that a reason to damage it?

But if he gave her something for safekeeping and told her, "Look after this because it's silver" and it was really gold and it got burned, she only has to pay for a silver object, not a golden one because [she can say], "I undertook to look after silver, not gold."

To put it in our terms, if someone entrusts an item to his friend and says, "Look after this, there are ten thousand dollars in here," obviously he must take care of it accordingly. But if it transpires that there were a million dollars there (!) a million is not the same thing as ten thousand. He can say, "I never undertook to look after a million dollars."

Now, one certainly doesn't throw away even ten thousand [and if he damaged it he'll have to pay a million] but he can say, "I didn't undertake to look after a million dollars." And that is the halochoh — if the object was later lost or suffered some other damage he only has to pay ten thousand because he can say, "I only undertook to look after ten thousand, not a hundred thousand and certainly not a million."

If he damaged it though, he hasn't got a leg to stand on. Does one damage [even] ten thousand dollars? If though, he was only looking after it, he can say, "I undertook to guard silver, not gold."

He would then explain. If a teacher thinks that the talmidim he's teaching are "deposits of silver" he won't value what he's doing highly enough. But if he realizes that this is a neshomoh! "A deposit of gold"! A deposit of gold is something different entirely. It's a different level of responsibility.

Every teacher must realize that when he learns with children he is responsible for their neshomos. If he shames one of them, it's a terrible thing. He must take the utmost care not to hurt anyone, choliloh vechas.

Sometimes it might be necessary to deliver a slight reprimand so that a child will learn, but it shouldn't be too severe. It shouldn't involve shaming him greatly. The best thing would be for the teacher to rebuke him alone, in private. When he finishes the shiur he should call him and give him a little mussar. That's okay. But he shouldn't shame him publicly. Who knows what [damage] he can inflict by doing so?

One must ensure that one is taking the utmost care. First of all, one's approach must be loving and [then,] if a child needs a scolding, the teacher should speak to him alone. It should all be done privately, not in public. Whenever it's possible to avoid doing something in public it should be done privately. When one speaks to a child in private one can speak in whichever way one needs to — sometimes more sharply, other times more gently — but it isn't as traumatic as speaking to him in public. In front of other people it's very hard [on him].

And don't imagine that a child doesn't feel shame. A child feels shame and he remembers. Even years later when he is a mature adult he remembers. He remembers how things were good with Rebbe Ploni, how Rebbe Ploni put him on his feet, how this rebbe helped me and how that rebbe ruined me. One must realize that one has to be extremely careful.

There is a sefer called Menuchoh Ukedushoh (which is said to have been written by a talmid of Rav Chaim of Volozhin) in which the author includes a scathing criticism of teachers. He was also a teacher but he conducted himself properly. He writes that there are teachers who destroy the children. Learning with children is thus a great responsibility. One must be aware that one's dealing with neshomos, which is by no means straightforward. Neshomos are "deposits of gold" — they're more valuable than gold.

Corporal Punishment

Q. With regard to physical punishment — is giving an occasional slap in order?

A. One may do so occasionally — very infrequently and not excessively. If the teacher is generous with his blows the children learn to be like that as well. A child doesn't learn [from being hit too much] that he has to improve; he simply learns to hit others as well.

May Hashem help each and every teacher, for their common goal is to do good. May Hakodosh Boruch Hu help them actually succeed in doing good. May they have the success of all their talmidim growing up into what Hashem wants them to be. May Hakodosh Boruch Hu help all of you succeed; that all the children you teach should be ehrliche kinder, yirei Shomayim and talmidei chachomim. For this, may you merit [the blessing] "and the intelligent ones [shall shine] like the heavens' glow" (Doniel 12:3). May you and your families merit physical and material blessing; may you have merit in This World and also be happy in the World to Come.

They Were Self Effacing and Thereby Merited Receiving Torah Wholeheartedly

From the Gerrer Rebbe's address at the gathering of bochurei yeshiva in the Los Angeles Yeshiva

Yisro's advice to Moshe Rabbenu to appoint officers over thousands, over hundreds, over fifties and over tens [to assist him in judging bnei Yisroel's disputes] appears in the Torah just before the parsha about the giving of the Torah. Moshe Rabbenu accepted his advice: "And Moshe listened to his father-in-law's voice and did everything that he said" (Shemos 18:24).

Klal Yisroel were then on such a high level that not one of them had any complaint. The officers of hundreds didn't want to be officers of thousands. The officers of tens were not offended that they hadn't been made officers of hundreds. All Yisroel were self-effacing, humble and submissive and therefore received everything wholeheartedly. This is the meaning of the posuk (23), "And all these people will also find their place peacefully." This parsha is adjacent to the parsha of the giving of the Torah to teach us that this [trait of humility and self- effacement] is how one should prepare to receive the Torah. Once one attains this level one is ready to receive the Torah.

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai's Defense of Klal Yisroel

From the Gerrer Rebbe's address at the main gathering in Los Angeles, on Lag BaOmer night

Today is the yahrtzeit of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. Rabbi Shimon said, "I could release the entire world from [the accusations of] the attribute of judgment from the day I was made, until today. If my son Elazar was with me [I could release the world etc.] from the day the world was created until now. And if Yosam the son of Uziyahu [king of the kingdom of Yehuda] were with us, [I could release the world etc.] from the day the world was created until its end" (Succah 45).

The halochoh follows the opinion of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, in that one is not liable for doing a melochoh on Shabbos for a purpose other than its primary one (Shabbos 105) if he does not want the primary purpose. It is the same with bnei Yisroel; even when they sin they are not interested in sinning. They always want to fulfill the Creator's will, as the gemora says, "It is revealed and known before You that our will is to do Your will . . ." (Brochos 17).

In the same way that Rabbi Shimon holds that one isn't liable for doing melochoh on Shabbos for a secondary purpose (Kerisus 20), bnei Yisroel's sins too, are done without intention to sin [only for "a secondary purpose," because of the yetzer hora] and they are not considered as sins. This is Rabbi Shimon's defense to release bnei Yisroel from judgment.

I give my blessing to all bnei Yisroel and to those who are present here that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai be an upright advocate for them and in his merit may they have a spiritual and a material salvation and may they have everything good.

Ribono Shel Olom, We Are Doing All We Can

HaRav Shteinman quoted the Vilna Gaon who writes that one merits Heavenly assistance only after having taken all the necessary measures. "Now," he continued, "`And we do not know what to do' (from the Tachanun prayer of Shacharis and Minchah). The Tur explains this expression: `We have prayed while sitting, while standing and having buried our faces, like Moshe Rabbenu did. What more is left for us to do? We don't know what to do. Ribono Shel Olom, we have done everything in our power and we don't know what else to do. Now You do Your part and redeem us.' "

Here the tears started falling and HaRav Shteinman continued in a choked voice: "Ribono shel olom, so many educators are sitting here who are involved in chinuch and in kiruv. Your sons are making such efforts for the sake of Heaven's glory. We don't know what else to do on behalf of Your children, so that they should grow up to sanctify Your Name. Ribono Shel Olom, now You act and redeem us . . ."

(from HaRav Shteinman's address to the mechanchim, after Shacharis, at the Torah Umesorah convention, yom shishi, 21st Iyar)


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