Thursday, June 17, 2010

105 year-old Rosh Yeshiva visits. But where were the rabbis?

Guest post from a former talmid of the Lucerne Yeshiva:
(Photographs have been forwarded to us by a number of readers with credits due to Leon Shapiro, Yumi Rosenbaum and M L Abelesz)


The many former local talmidim of the Lucerne Yeshiva have for the past 8 days had the great privilege and pleasure of hosting their great Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Yitzchok Dov Kopelman שליט''א (as well as one of his leading talmidim, the world renowned Marbitz Torah and Mashpia, Rav Yisroel Dovid Schlesinger שליט''א of Monsey, New York).
The 105 year-old Rosh Yeshiva עמו''ש had insisted on making the trek to see and inspire his many talmidim who live on the other side of the world. Such a long trip would be no small accomplishment even for one a quarter of a century younger than him. And ב''ה we were זוכה to see and hear him exactly as we did when studying in his Yeshiva 20, 30 and even 40 years ago. השי''ת יאריך ימיו ושנותיו בבריות גופא ונהורא מעליא

From the moment the Rosh Yeshiva arrived at the airport – where he was welcomed by over hundreds of people, headed by Rav Beck שליט''א and until his departure, he was surrounded by huge crowds of young and old listening to his many droshos (said whilst standing) and Divrei Torah as well as seeking his advice and blessing. On Tuesday, the RY was Sandek at the bris of young Shlomo Zalman, son of Rabbi E. Saftlas (performed by Melbourne’s newest Mohel, Reb Moshe Benedikt).
 The 2 major public droshos of the RY were Monday evening in the Adass Shul and the following evening in Kollel Beth Hatalmud. Both were heavily publicised resulting in the venues being packed to the rafters with listeners young and old. Everyone felt stirred and enthused by the outstanding divrei hisorerus and chizuk by Rav Schlesinger and moved by the amazing drosho of the RY which seemed to seep into every listeners נשמה. (CDs are available for those who missed this once in a lifetime opportunity - or for those who wish to hear the speeches again and again.)

It was impossible not to have been  touched to the depths of one's heart,watching and hearing a universally recogised גדול בישראל, a rebbe to thousands of talmidim for over 4 generations, speaking, crying and singing together with the huge tzibbur who savoured every precious minute.

What was surprising or rather disappointing, was to notice, that besides the rabbonim and members of Adass and Beth Hatalmud (and satellite shteebels) the lack of representation from other Shuls. Of course, Rabbi Telsner (an oft and well-respected guest in Adass) was there, as were a few more ‘outsiders’. But where were all the rabbis of the community? Chabad and non-Chabad? Where were the lay leaders? The COSV, the RCV, the Yeshiva Gedola and Kollel Menachem? One would expect that a speech delivered by respected and scholarly 105-year old, even if not one of the Gedolei Yisroel, (even if not a Jew!), would attract the interest of any reasonable person. In fact, one should have seen the interest and respect of non-Jews at Tullamarine airport, jostling for a position to get a glimpse of “the 105-year-old rabbi”. But Melbourne’s rabbonim – not interested!

I am stunned and shocked at the lack of interest and basic דרך ארץ by these people.
בזיון התורה and בזיון תלמיד חכם is no small offence. But when perpetuated by Rabbonim themselves –especially those who expect respect from others – is simply bizarre.

Wouldn’t this have been an occasion where they should have come along bringing their children? To give them the opportunity and privilege to see a talmid of the Gedolim of yesteryear, and a famous Rosh Yeshiva that was born prior to the First World War! An internationally revered personality from the era of zeidy’s zeidy?

Sorry for the rant, but in my eyes this shows very bad form from Melbourne’s spiritual leadership.   והוא רחום יכפר.


  1. Who the heck are you to rant against these people? What gives you that right?

  2. TC bli daas neveleh tova mimenoThursday, June 17, 2010 12:54:00 PM

    Since when is commenting forbidden? I presume that the write, a talmid of this RY is pained by the lack of derech eretz (and I would add - seichel) by those who missed out on such an amazing once in a lifetime opportunity.

    No doubt had another world leading personality - say the late Lubavitcher or Klausenburger rebbe visited melb and people didn't take much interest, it would have hurt their followers

  3. you mean your ry needs more and more people to give him kovod and listen to his torah to make him the godol b'yisroel..... is this what makes him. typical misnagdish hashkofo.

  4. I never said commenting is forbidden. I just want to know what gives some anonymouns trouble maker the right to critisize Melbourne rabonnim for not showing up to a speech.
    The irony of ajn watch telling them they have not derech eretz is astonishing.

  5. further to my prev comments i think you have a chutzpah to be upset at anyone who does not find interest in the same things you do. or find the same greatness in gdolei yisroel that you do. perhaps some people did not find it such a "big deal" like you do. ..... so for that your upset at them??

    you have a grosse ego thinking that everyone should take pleasure in the same things you do!

  6. lekatchila hoben seichelThursday, June 17, 2010 1:47:00 PM

    wow, 4 comments from the same person with different names.
    i don't think you would have written the same way had you known about the close and discreet relationship between RK and the rebbe

  7. sorry ajn watch my last comment was supposed to be from glen ira not annoymous please change is possible

  8. lekatchila,

    my comments are not directed at the RY chas vsholom he is for sure a holy person etc etc

    i would have gone to hear him but i was out of town.

    my issue is with the writer who thinks that anything he is interested in everyone should be and if not then they deserve a "misheberach"

    the RY's gadlus is that he does not need more people to come and see him and respect him. proof of chashivus and anivus is that he would be just as happy to say torah to 1 person as to 1000 thats what makes him a godol not the fact of how much of a crowd he can bring in

    did the writer ask the RY if he himself was upset that more rabbis did not come and say shoom or give kovod??

  9. lhs - What are you on about? I wrote the comment 1 and 4, not the others, who are from one oterh person.
    Also, I'm not lubavitch at all.
    However, the author of the above article is clearly a gutless trouble maker. To publish an anonymous article with the comments made is quite sick. The author claims to be a former talmid of the rosh yeshiva. I have no doubt that the rosh yeshiva would not approve of the author's comments.

  10. I'm a little confused
    On the one hand a world reknown leader in the MO world was in town and not only was there no delegation from the Kollel and Adass, but he is denegraded by individuals in these communities

    Rabbi Shochet was in town recently and these holy communities you speak of snigger as to the 'idiocy' of his hashkafic beliefs and none from these communities showed up

    Then, when someone in Lita world arrives there is an expectation that everyone should fawn all over him??

    As a former talmid, I can start sharing some home truths that are glossed over.

    Perhaps these other communities could start to slander some of the more obvious 'financial' transactions that are going on associated with his visit.
    How much exactly does one have to pay to get a personal audience? When I visited Rav Shach, I don't recall ridiculous cover charges.

    Perhaps others should ask why you talk of such fantastic crowds and the pictures displayed for his speech at the kollel ONLY close ups are presented with no view of the crowd.

    With all due respect to the Kovod of the Rosh Yeshiva,by writing these slurs you have lowered him.

  11. I think the whole discussion demonstrates that there isn't any such thing as "the Jewish community". Those who are great in the eyes of one are not great in the eyes of another. That which is interesting to one, is a waste of time to another.

    You ask where were the rabbis during Rav Kopelman's speech? Good question. And where were the charedi community during LimudOz? (Could they really learn nothing there?) Where were the non-charedi community during Lag B'Omer in the park? (Would they really not enjoy themselves?) Why do no rabbis attend the In One Voice Festival? (Would it be an aveyreh to join the only community function that actually pulls in nearly the whole Jewish community?)

    I think it's because when people call for unity, they really mean "Join me/my beliefs/my viewpoint/my segment of the community."

    One might not agree with other streams of Yidishkait. But one can only benefit by being exposed to other streams of Yidn.

    I understand the author's distress at the perceived lack of derkheretz and interest in someone who has had a powerful impact on his life. Do you extend yourself in the same way to those who have had a similar impact on others?

  12. a former talmid of the Lucerne Yeshiva:Friday, June 18, 2010 1:25:00 AM

    I sure hope that the readers of this blog are more intelligent than some of the commentators published here.

    Of course the RY couldn't care if there were 20 or 2000 people there. He is far, far above such childish considerations.

    I was making the point that any sensible ben torah (which I thought that at least a few of our rabbis qualify as) would jump at the opportunity - especially here in faraway Australia - to see and hear one of the gedolei yisroel - and even more so - one who has the zechus to unusual arichas yomim.

    But it seems from the comments here that members of our rabbinate (who no doubt are writing under nicknames) have far more important things on their plates.

    But isn't it a pity that they didn't at least send their children along to hear and get a brocho from this special person?

    Comparing rabbi Riskin and Rabbi Shochet to the RY is qute ridiculous. Yes, if they arrive here in 50 years time, of course many more from outside of their tight group will want to see them. But as of now? (and even in their own communities they aren't exactly universally adulated by all)

    As to mein khaver, obviously from the Bundist/Yiddishist group (are they really still around!?) - being exposed to other streams of Yidn and Yiddishkeit is not an option for frum Jews. How do you think your zeida or elter zeida became a Bundist? After all they all shtam from frum Jews.

    The answer is that they were exposed to the apikorsim, maskilim and secularists of Greater Poland and were led astray from their traditional roots.

    No way any frum Jew would today take similar risks with his family.

    Sorry, ich vil dir nisht baleidigen - ober dos iz der emes!

    Finally I repeat to all of you who decided to forego on seeing the RY, you missed a great opportunity to partake in a rare, unlifting and wonderful experience that will long remain in the meomories of those who were there. Your loss.

  13. To
    a former talmid of the Lucerne Yeshiva: said...

    If your diatribe of hate filled words and of superior sentiment to all Jews who don't see the world through your single faceted prism are a priduct of your Rosh Yeshivas' yiddishkite, then I'd rather have nothing to do with your Rosh Yeshiva.

    It's one thing to hold your teacher in high esteem but to push down others in an attempt to lift up your own philosophy shows is a sad method indeed.

  14. To former talmid

    If you are close with RK, can you please provide him with a copy of your article and ask him what he thinks of it. It would be very enlightning if you could then report back to ajn watch what his views were.

  15. to a former talmid,

    who made you the ben torah police .... so you decide who is ben torah and who is not based on if they went to hear your RY

    plenty of bnei torah did not see or hear him and they dont feel the "loss" you so terribly feel for them

    you sound like a kid. get over it. he is a great man that much is clear in YOUR OPINION the fact that every jew in melb does not agree with you does not make those that dont agree any less a ben torah than you are.

    anyway i look fwd to see YOU at the the next farbrengen and if you cant make it please send your kids

  16. I thank A former Talmid.. for his response.

    You ask regarding the Bundistn/Yiddishistn "Are they still around?" . If you really don't know, perhaps that is a marker of how removed you may be from Yidn and Yiddishkaitn other than your own. And if it was a tongue in cheek comment, may I suggest you think about how such a comment would be received by a Bundist or Yiddishist.

    But what I really don't understand, is the comment that follows. Frum Jews can't be exposed to other streams of Yiddishkait because they might be led astray? Assuming you include yourself in that group ... how fragile is the strength of your convictions, beliefs, knowledge and values that merely speaking to another Jew may cause you to reconsider your life-long held positions?

    And if it did .... I am not clear why that would be a bad thing.

    And how do you hope to draw other Jews into frumkait if you don't engage with them? If you don't tell me about your Rosh Yeshivah's visit, how do you expect me to know that I should go?

    Finally, ikh vil dikh nisht baleydikn, but it's DIKH not DIR and it's baleydikn not baleydign.

  17. Why can we not accept that we are all Jews at different levels of knowledge, understanding and commitment, and live in harmony.

    If you see a Jew doing something incorrect, be motivated to compensate by doing an extra mitzvah and encourage him or her, but do not blame and fight.
    The situation of the students from Rabbi Akiva come to my mind.

  18. We have received a lengthy and interesting comment responding to 'A khaver' and have made it into a separate post called
    "A reader writes: "The Yiddish language in 2010""

    We invite you to make your way there and listen to what he has to say.

  19. Any thoughts on the accurcy of the reporting of the visit in the local and international frum newspapers?

  20. Guys my RY is all above you people it's a shame for him if he would know that there are such silly discussions about him here i got one think to say the people who were there have a "moridiga zchiya" that i don't think will happen again so fast and who not lost out and if they want they could still take a blessing from him at his house/yeshiva in swiss it is something no one could pay back for it and for the wise guys let me tell you 1 thing don't cry out loud you missed out but you could still give the ry a visit as i wrote b4


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