Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

15 Cheshvan 5766 - November 16, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Hesped in Yerushalayim

by M. Plaut

On motzei Shabbos parshas Lech Lecho a hesped for Rabbi Neuberger zt"l was held in the Friedman Beis Medrash of Yeshivas Mir.

The first speaker was HaRav Yitzchok Ezrachi. He asked why in general does a son have to say Kaddish? He answered that it is to fill the void in Kiddush Hashem that was left in the passing of his father. He noted that for someone like R' Naftoli Neuberger, who was responsible for so much Kiddush Hashem in the world, everyone has to pitch in to fill the void in Kiddush Hashem that he left behind.

The next speaker was HaRav Aharon Feldman, rosh yeshivas Ner Israel in Baltimore. He said that R' Naftoli ben R Meir was a father to widows, orphans, and to entire American communities. He said that his efforts in Iran had nothing to do with the yeshiva; all his prodigious efforts were entirely out of selfless concern about the future of Iranian Jewry which he saw had no Jewish leaders. His involvement began under the Shah, and continued under the Islamic regime that overthrew the Shah. At one point when Jews had to leave illegally through Afghanistan he had to answer the phone on Shabbos because of the dangers involved.

At a time when other yeshivas struggled to absorb a handful of Iranians, Ner Israel took in 100. Many had serious reservations, but R' Naftoli insisted that it would be a success. And it was. Virtually the entire connection the Iranian community today in the US has to Torah is due to graduates of Ner Israel. Even today there are 70 Iranians in Ner Israel.

HaRav Feldman said that in one town there was a machlokes that could have destroyed the Yiddishkeit of the entire city. R' Naftoli flew in and spoke to the rov of the town at the airport for 20 minutes and outlined a course of action to defuse the entire affair. The rov took the advice and R' Naftoli's advice proved effective.

HaRav Aviezer Piltz, the rosh yeshiva of Tifrach, said that he had met Rabbi Neuberger some 40 years previously. He said that he had created a true Torah malchus. In contrast to the power structures of most of the world which are characterized by their riches and ostentation, a Torah malchus is typified by the statement of the Bas Kol: "Kol ho'olom kulo nizon bishvil Chanino beni, veChanino beni dai lo bekav charuvim mei'erev Shabbos le'erev Shabbos — The entire world is sustained through the merits of my son Chanino, but my son Chanino has enough with a few pounds of carobs a week" (Taanis 24b). The builders are totally uninterested in personal advancement.

He noted that Torah institutions are not built up in the same way that other institutions are built. The adonim of the Mishkon, the foundation upon which the Mishkon stood, were made from pure silver — not iron and steel such as is used in the foundations of conventional structures. Visaditich besapirim (Yeshayohu 54:11) — the foundations are precious stones. Middos and tzidkus are the proper foundations for Torah buildings.

If we see hatzlochoh in a yeshiva, especially in the America of half-a-century ago, said HaRav Piltz, it cannot be only because of its gadlus in Torah. It must also have been properly founded upon foundations of gold and silver and precious stones.

When Dovid Hamelech finished Tehillim he said, "Is there a creature that says better shiros and tishbochos than I?"

A frog came and challenged him, saying that it says greater shiros and tishbochos than Dovid Hamelech. This, HaRav Piltz explained, means all of the creatures who by their very existence are a praise of the Creator, even without saying anything: Ein omer, ve'ein devorim. Bli nishmo kolom. Nonetheless, Bechol ho'oretz yotzo kavom . . . Tehillim 19:4-5). And not only that, said the frog, I do a great mitzvoh since there is a creature in the ocean that has no food and I let him eat me.

The lesson of the frog is that such mitzvos are greater than the shiros of the frog that are in turn greater than the shiros of Dovid Hamelech.

Rav Yosef Kalman Neuberger, grandson of the niftar, said that achrayus was burning inside of his grandfather. It was a word that was always on his lips.

He said that once someone called him and said that he had a medical problem with his daughter. As soon as his grandfather got off the phone he went into action. He called doctors and asked them about the disease and about treatment. He bought a book about the disease and read it through. He called in his granddaughters to ask them about the disease. In short he threw himself into finding a way to help this man and his daughter as if it were his own daughter.

He noted that it mentions Noach three times at the beginning of parshas Noach. Chazal say that this is because he lived in three different worlds: before the Flood, the Flood itself and after the Flood. Noach brought the quality of life that he had seen in the world before the Flood, when the creation was close to its Creator, through to the world after the Flood. In a similar way, Rabbi Neuberger took the lessons and approach that he had learned from HaRav Leizer Yudel Finkel while he was at Mir yeshiva in Poland, and brought them through to America.


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