Volume 7 Number 38

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

R. Hershel Reichman's hesped
         [Anthony Fiorino]
R. Mordecai Willig's hesped
         [Anthony Fiorino]
The Rav - Additional Bibliography/errata
         [Sam Goldish]


From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Wed, 12 May 93 19:20:31 -0400
Subject: R. Hershel Reichman's hesped

R. Hershel Reichman's hesped for the Rav, given Mon, 5-10.  As usual, all
mistakes, ommissions, additions, etc. are my fault entirely, and I
apologize for the sloppiness of the style.  Since no one has objected to
me providing summaries of my notes (and many have expressed support --
thanks to all who wrote), I will continue to do so.  Another note -- one
should hesitate before drawing anything but a vague impression of the Rav
from my summaries -- remember, this information was given in a talk, which
I heard and copied (2 levels of interpretation there); then a couple of
days later, summarized (another level of interpretation, plus the decay of
memory over time).  In other words, this is far from min hashamayim (but
I'm doing my best!).  Here we go:

The Rav had a soft spot for simple Jews -- he used to give the keys to his
apartment not to one of the top guys from shir, but to a regukar guy.  He
had patience and tolerance for all Jews who came to him.  R. Reichman once
asked him the difference between him and the Lubavitcher rebbe -- the Rav
said the Rebbe could stay up all night talking to non-religious Jews and he
loves them.  The Rav said he prefered religious Jews.

The Rav loved his audience.  Why did non-lumdisha Jews attend his shiurim?
Even if the intellectual message was not always accessable to them, the
Rav's love of Torah and his audience was clearly felt.  Thousands would
come to his shiurim; unprecedented for a magid shiur.

What was his secret?  He made Torah accessable; his heart overflowed with
love and was empowering to the audience.  Like a child who comes home from
cheder to show a picture he made to his parents, the Rav shared his most
precious discoveries with us, his audience.

The Rav was motivated by the unity of klal yisrael -- he predicted that
in America, there would be widespread dropping out of Judaism unless one
spoke to Jews in a language they understood -- Zionism and secular
studies.  The Rav often said that if hakadosh baruch hu didn't bless klal
yisrael with medinas yisrael after the shoah, then the number of Jews
dropping out would have been much worse.  R. Reichman attributes the Rav's
love for Jews to his childhood in a simple, poor Russian town.

The Rav saw talmud torah as ultimately the only way to reach and unite
Jews.  Our duty as talmidim is to carry on that love, as Moshe was somech
Y'hoshua bin nun.

R. Reichman told a story that after he got his smicha, his father wanted
him to get his PhD.  R. Reichman just wanted to learn.  So the Rav told
him to learn for a year or 2, then to get his PhD.  2 years later, R.
Reichman was still learning, and his father called the Rav to say that his
son had reneged on the deal.  So the Rav asked R. Reichman if he spoke any
lashon hara, to which he replied "of course, rebbe."  So the Rav said "in
the time you speak lashon hara, study for a PhD."  The next semester, R.
Reichman was registered for 6 credits of graduate work.

He told a story of a guy in shiur who used to read a lot of philosophy, he
wanted very much to be like the Rav.  One day after shiur, this guy tried
to start up a conversation with the Rav about some philosopher, but the
Rav told him all the philosophy in the warld doesn't help figure out
p'shat in a Rabbenu Tam.

Once the Rav's wife called the shamash -- the Rav had gone into a room
that morning, and after a while, she knocked on the door -- no answer. 
The door was locked.  Time passed, the shamash knocked, no answer.  R.
Reichman came over, still no answer.  After 15 hours, he came out -- he
said he had been engrossed in a difficult Rambam.

Only once did R. Reichman see him really angry -- his 3rd year in shiur,
they were learning Yevamos, which the Rav had never learned with his
grandfather.  They were having a difficult time of it, back and forth over
this p'shat, that p'shat, 18 hours/week of shiur.  So the boys in shiur
decided to ask the Rav to switch masechtas, and they made a petition. 
They gave it to him on Thursday.  On Monday, the Rav came into shiur
visibly angry, opened his gemara and started learning Yevamos.  Someone
asked him if he had read the petition, at which point he exploded and gave
a 20 minute tirade about there lack of effort and motivation.

A rebbe is like an av and an eim; thus krias b'dagim applies to both. 
There is an element of honor and fear in the relationship.

The Rav used to say that the Torah is like mayim -- it must be poured into
a kli without cracks.  The Rav was always making students into complete

Every shiur of the Rav was like his very first shiur.  R. Aharon
Lichtenstein used to marvel at the way the Rav would ponder over a kasha
that he had answered 5 times in previous years -- He is a master
pedagogue, R. Aharon said, to put on this display.  But R. Reichman's
interpretation is that it was no display -- the Rav was m'chadesh in every
shiur, each teretz was a new act of creation.  Whenever someone said "But
Rebbe, last year you said . . ." the Rav would say "forget it."  He wanted
to figure it out anew.

R. Reichman is sure that in the Rav's mind, present at every shiur were
Rav Chaim and Rav Moshe; also Rashi, the Rambam, etc. etc.  The talmidim
were really the guests.

The Gemara relates that Rav [the Amora - Mod.] came home every friday
night to make kiddush after he died.  The Rav said that it was
absolutely true, for 2 reasons.  The Bies Yosef wrote a book in which he
discusses a conversation with a malach, and he would not have written
such a sefer if it weren't true; and because Rav Moshe had visited him

The Rmabam says that the Schina never leaves the Jewish people in exile
and in tumah -- it represents the mida of loyalty.  No one was more loyal
than the Rav -- his loyalty to his wife, to YU, to Drs. Belkin and Lamm,
to his talmidim.  He was matir neder after shiur sometimes, with 3
talmidim from the shiur.  Why?  Because he had said the would be done with
a certain sugya by a certain time, and the weren't done yet.  He raised
money for the Brisker Yeshiva in spite of the differences between them in
hashgafa, and in spite of those who tried to sour the relationship between
the two.

The Rav was involved in kashrus in Boston when he first arrived.  He was
framed by some in Boston and brought up on serious charges.  Another rabbi
from Boston falsely testified against him.  Eventually, the Rav was
cleared entirely.  Decades later, that rabbi was brought up on tax evasion
charges, and the Rav still spoke to the judge on this other Rabbi's
behalf.  The Rav held with the Rambam against the Ramban -- one should not
even _think_ about revenge; it isn't just the maaseh which is the lav.

Eitan Fiorino


From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Wed, 12 May 93 20:37:52 -0400
Subject: R. Mordecai Willig's hesped

(All the disclaimers I've put on the other summaries of my notes on the
hespedim apply to this one as well)

R. Willig's hesped from Tuesday, 5-11:

The Rav's shita on bein hashemashos -- more than a time of safek, rather a
"din safek," an unresolvable safek.  It is not simply a time that we don't
know if it is day or night; it is a time which possesses characteristics
of both day and night.  There is a dialectical tension in bein hashemashos.

The Rav symbolized this "din safek" element of bein hashemashos -- he
lived in 2 worlds which seemed to contradict.  Miraculously, he was able
to bridge, to synthesize them.  R. Willig was struck by the fact that the
Rav's patira occured during bein hashemashos, on the day that chadash
becomes mutar.

To what contradiction is R. Willig refering?  The conflict of the old and
the new.  The Rav did not accept "chadash assur min haTorah" -- yet he
also believed in fundamental points which cannot move no matter what
circumstances are brought upon us.  We have already heard many
contradictions in the hespedim givin -- and according to R. Willig, "eilu
v'eilu divrei elokim chaim."  Both views of the Rav -- the modern man, and
the man "who was never seen with a secular book" -- are true.

The Rambam has 3 major works:
   1.  Mishneh Torah -- the "lechem uvasar" -- the most important work,
the only one in lashon kodesh.
   2.  his perush hamishnayos -- halachic concepts, but in the vernacular
   3.  the Guide -- concepts from both Torah and foreign sources.  The
Rambam rose to the challenge of those being affected by contemporary
philosophies.  A work such as this is limited by nature -- it was a
contemporary work.  Furthermore, a work of this nature arouses opposition:
one cannot bring foreign sources into any Torah discussion without
arrousing opposition.  The Rambam's books were burned -- R. Yonah wrote
the shaarei t'shuva because he felt that the lack of respect shown for the
Rambam brought the chorban of Talmud burning to Europe.

The Rav is a modern day Rambam:
   1.  First and foremost: the Rav as an ish hahalacha -- Why is the
mishneh torah the lechem uvasar?  Because bread fills you up, everyone
eats it, and all bread is similar:  this is the baseline Torah learned by
every talmud chacham.  The basar is the variety, the fancy stuff --
everyon'e meat is different.  The Rav's explanations and analyses and
chidushim set him apart from all others.
   2.  Rav's perush hamishnayos -- he spoke in the language of the people,
His Yiddish was poetry.  When he switched his shiur to English, it was
pure English, not Yinglish.  A kohein was a priest, and mila was
circumcision.  This was a bold, courageous move.  When the Rav first
arrived, people were being torn away from Torah.  The Rav showed how
interesting, complex, and compelling Torah is.  Not only in YU, but in
Boston and in colleges.  He spoke in the language of the people; he was an
unparalleled master of drush.  He used multiple medias to get his message
across.  Th Rav was always willing to use any means available toget Torah
across, but Torah was always the ikar.  Also, the drash was second to the
halacha -- R. Willig once mentioned to the Rav a point from "Kol Dodi
Dofek" which had impressed him tremendously; the Rav said simply, "a
drash" -- long term, his legacy is in halacha, not drash.
   3.  Rav's Guide to the perplexed -- He studied in a university -- is
this a "time of need" or a lesson to doros?  What is the "guide?"  At the
time, it was a time of need -- acritical need.  But the message is for
doros.  With the Rav -- Neokantian philosophy was the zeitgeist of the
20's.  It swept people away.  The Rav's mother sent him to Berlin to
university.  Why?  What we see in 1925 is the period between the wars, the
flourishing of the European Yeshivot.  Yet at the same time, the majority
of the Jewish people were being swept away by the zeitgeist.  The Rav once
said that when he was leaving Europe for the US, he stopped by the shul in
Vilna -- the number of people under age 30 in the shul was tiny.  When the
Rav went to Berlin -- that's when the bein hashemashos began.

The impression was made on others in the 30's, 40's and 50's, when the Rav
introduced philosophy into his drashos.  R. Willig never saw him with a
seculr book, but he had no need with his talmidim.  But the Rav never
hesitated to go back to those sources of his youth when the need arose. 
The Rav often said Don't think that this philosophy, Jewish or not, has
any revelance without halacha.

And just like the "guide," there was opposition to the Rav.  Those who skipped
past the lechem uvasar and went straight to the philosophy.  Others took
time away from talmud torah.  Others attacked him for many of his
positions.  The Rav never responded to these attacks, and he taught his
talmidim to respect all tulmudei chachamim and roshei yeshiva.

He had a warm relationships with many of the gedolim: 
When R. Moshe was installed as the president of the agudas harabonan --
who would give the drasha?  Of all the roshei yeshiva, the Rav was asked
to speak.  R. Kotler invited him to speak as well.  R. Kotler's son would
always ask R. Willig about the Rav upon meeting him.  The Rav knew R.
Hutner from Europe.  R. Hutner called the Rav to help him when starting
Chaim Berlin.  When the Rav was depressed after his wife died, only Rav
Hutner could raise his spirits a little.  But then, "a new king arose in
Egypt who did not know Yosef."

The Rav knew how to fight:  30 years ago, he fought against eccumenicism
when religious dialogue was the zeitgeist; 40 yrs ago, aginst mixed
seating; and 50 yrs ago, he fought to establish the priority of halacha upon
these shores.  Now, it is forgotten who led us in these battles.  As is
forgotten the good will he extended to all Jews from all circles.

Where is the new Rav?  There is none.  50 yrs of active work against
anti-Torah elements -- the Rav was appropriate for his time, a generation
which needed him.  Not before, not after.  Our task is to continue his
masorah.  His talmidim -- one is a darshan, one is a posek, one is a rav,
one is a thinker -- together, they capture all the aspects of the Rav.

30 yrs ago, at a mizrachi convention, the Rav spoke on a pasuk in Isaiah
 -- in the history of the Jewish people, hakadosh baruch hu is a shomeir. 
Sometimes, individuals or the people are overcome by yeirus -- where does
one find encouragement in a long and difficult night?  There are 2 kinds
of prayer -- tz'los'ha, a prayer for the immediate problems, and baus'ha,
prayer for the long term problems of the Jewish people.  This is the
reason we say "tiskabeil tz'los'hon uvaus'hon" in the kadish after shemona
esrei.  If one focuses on one's own night, one can't escape depression. 
If one realizes on is part of the chain extending from Moshe, one knows
that one will prevail.

The Rav was makir tov to his talmidim.  People tried to prevent this
rising star from coming up and eclipsing them.  He once said at a chag
hasmicha that without his talmidim, he would need a psychiatrist (this was
just after his wife died).  And through his talmidim, he was able to grow
out of his depression.  And his hakares hatov to YU -- he left his dying
wife's side to come to YU to say shiur.  Do we learn this lesson?  We dare
not forget the one whose battles we take for granted.

At his last yartzeit shiur -- people were literally crying because of his
diorientation (due to some medication he was taking).  Yet the Rav
continued to say shiur for 5 more years, and the students flocked to
catch the last rays of light.  Then began the long seven year bein
hashemashos . . . 

Eitan Fiorino


From: Sam Goldish <0005891269@...>
Date: Wed, 12 May 93 19:28:59 -0400
Subject: The Rav - Additional Bibliography/errata

In my posting, "The Rav - Additional Bibliography" (V7-#37) I 
inadvertantly typed the wrong date for the issue of "Hamevaser" that 
features the article: "The Rav as Ba'al Aggada:Selections."  The 
correct issue date is December 1989.  Slichah!
                                        Shmuel Yitzhak Goldish
[Also submitted by one who knew:

   A correction regarding Sam Goldish's submission in 7:37.  The article 
by Rav Schussheim was in Hamevaser 1989, not 1959.  I know; I was the editor.
                                Kochakha le-oraisa,
                                 Ron Ziegler



End of Volume 7 Issue 38