A First Hand View of Rav Yeruchem Levovitz zt”l Giving a Shmuess in the Mir in Poland

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By Rabbi W. Wolfe Wernick

Presented By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5tjt.com

**Please note:  This author is looking to make a video about the Mir Yeshiva in Poland and is looking for sponsors – if anyone is interested, please email [email protected]***

In a dark and barely furnished boarding place of the Yeshiva students, over a shaloshudos table, one of us usually asked the question, “Er zogt? – Will the Mashgiach speak?”

“Where?”

At times, when he did not feel well, he spoke at his home. But in most cases, the Yeshiva was the place where he delivered his philosophical discourses on Torah.

Hurriedly, the scanty food consisting of the left-overs of the afternoon Shabbos meal was eaten.  We bentsched and were off to the Yeshiva.  In pairs of two’s and three’s, from all sides of the street, from alleys and little passageways between the typical European small dilapidated houses, the Yeshiva students hastened in the direction of the Yeshivah.  The liveliness in the walk was dye to the eagerness with which we awaited the Mashgiach’s talk.

Opposite each other at the head of the Yeshiva lane, majestically stand the houses of the Rosh HaYeshivah and the Rav.  Quickly, we pass through the big wooden doors which separate the Yeshiva estate from the faculty’s abodes – up the lane and into the Yeshiva.

The Yeshivah is enveloped in darkness, except for the little lamp-lightcoming from above the Amemar (Bimah).  The Yeshiva is one vast hall divided into three long aisles of big wooden benches.  In the center aisle near the front where the Bimah stands, a square is formed and occupied by the students.  An assemblage of about 500 students, well arranged from all sides, await the Mashgiach.  From afar, the appear as silhouettes on the light blue walls.

Suddenly, we hear the swerving and moving of shtenders held by those in the front, acting as vanguards.  They make way for the Mashgiach to enter.  He takes his seat behind the Bimah, and soon becomes the cynosure of all eyes.

Silence!  The Mashgiach’s voice rises and the words are heard:

“A man never so much as moves his finger, but it has been so decreed from above.”v

He pauses and thinks.  A deadly silence settles on the Yeshiva.  No one stirs.  He commands the attention of everyone.  He is crouched at his elbows on the edges of the shtender, swaying to and fro.  Attentively, we listen to him, wondering how he will define this passage.

The Mashgiach is old, sixty or more years old, his beard is white with a silver whiteness.  The hair on the side of his head, which protrudes front underneath his black hat, is like newly fallen snow.  His face impresses you as one who endured many hardships, but his eyes, unlike the eyes of men of his age are black and glowing.  They show cleverness.  In them, you can see the experience acquired by him over twenty-five years in the Yeshiva world, as Mashgiach of the Mir, Radun, and other Yeshivos; the one from whom all Mashgichim attained their instructions and guidance.

Tension relaxes.  A warmth begins to glow within him.  By degrees his voice rises; his face kindles; his very soul resolves into his speech.  The Divine Presence hovers over him and he drinks in its sweetness.  The way he speaks grips the heart of everyone. His voice dilateswith the full knowledge of irrefutable proof.  Beads of sweat stand out on his forehead.  He swings to and fro on his shtender, clasps his hands together and brings them up to his chin.  He shuts his eyes, stands still, and begins intoning.

At the end of his speech, he gets up and walks over to the Bimah and with great enthusiasm, explains, argues, and proves his point.  He reads in the sonorous phrases following their echoes with delight as though he himself were not excluded from the philosophic lesson taught.

He nods with his head.

“A Guten.”

This signifies that the Inyan (the discourse) is concluded.

We leave and take our seats.  We meditate over his deep thoughts and try to apply to ourselves that lesson in ethics.  About fifteen minutes afterwards, the Mashgiach goes over to the Amud and with traditional , “Kelemer pahteh,” he begins:  “Vehu rachum yechaper avon – And He, the Merciful, will forgive transgressions..”

**Please note:  This author is looking to make a video about the Mir Yeshiva in Poland and is looking for sponsors – if anyone is interested, please email [email protected]***


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