“For years I marveled at the m’siras nefesh of talmidim at Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim.” Rav Doniel Lander, Rosh HaYeshiva of Yeshivas Ohr HaChaim, spoke at the Rabbinical Seminary of America Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim annual breakfast at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills on Sunday morning, June 2.
Rabbi Mordechai Heller, a talmid at Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim, welcomed the large crowd of community supporters, local rabbanim, and local politicians “It’s well-known the impact the Yeshiva has on the Queens community.” He shared some examples. There are 53 administrators in nine schools in Queens, three shul rabbis, and major kiruv organizations headed by Chofetz Chaim rabbanim, as well as community organizations such as the Vaad Harabonim of Queens Chevrah Kadisha. “Something not well-known is that there are 200 young married men with families who are learning full-time at the Yeshiva. They bring Torah and midos to our community.” He shared a comment from the manager of a local grocery store: “Such amazing young men. So honest and such mentchen!”
Rabbi Heller continued, “It is difficult to measure the impact of the Yeshiva on the community. We need to focus on it and appreciate it.”
Next , Councilman Rory Lancman shared, “I represent the district with the largest Jewish community. The anchor of this community is Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim. The work you do to produce generation after generation of Jewish leaders is important not just to the Jewish community here but to klal Yisrael.” He emphasized, “We should support Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim because it benefits our children, our community, and New York City.”
Following this, Rabbi Akiva Grunblatt shlita, Rosh HaYeshiva of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim, pointed out that the Yeshiva’s emphasis is on harbatzas haTorah and Torah learning. He shared a d’var Torah that taught that “the real meaning of leadership is to care for people even if they aren’t conducting themselves at the highest of standards. A leader needs to feel their difficulties and even if they are giving him a hard time.” He continued, “The Rosh HaYeshiva, Rav Henoch Leibowitz zt”l, taught that message. It’s embedded in the walls of the Yeshiva. A Jewish leader has to be feeling and caring even if it’s not easy. Our talmidim have this attitude, this caring, and this midah of being genuine.”
The final speaker, Rav Doniel Lander, thanked the two Roshei HaYeshiva, Rav Dovid Harris shlita and Rav Akiva Grunblatt shlita, for the opportunity, the z’chus, and the honor to speak at the breakfast. He noted that the breakfast is the culmination of the Shabbos of Chizuk for the Yeshiva. Parshas B’Chukosai emphasizes ameilus baTorah. The blessings are conditional on our immersing ourselves in the study of Torah. On the other hand, abandonment brings curses. At the end of the parshah, we hear comforting words from Hashem. In contrast, in Parshas Ki Savo, the curses are not followed by words of comfort. He explained that the Or HaChaim HaKadosh taught that the curses in B’Chukosai are addressed to the tzibur, while the ones in Ki Savo are addressed to the individual. Hashem is teaching us that he will never forget His love for klal Yisrael. Hashem is promising us that klal Yisrael will survive. “The Ribbono shel Olam will provide miracles to ensure our survival. The Ponevezher Rav explained that we believe we can collectively never abandon Yiddishkeit. Hashem imbued us with a ruach of k’dushah. This is our nature. It is impossible for klal Yisrael to walk away collectively from their destiny. The k’dushah of klal Yisrael is natural and eternal.”
He pointed out that Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim talmidim build communities and inspire fellow Jews, whether in small communities or here in New York. Rav Henoch’s expression that echoed through generations of Chofetz Chaim talmidim is, “They’re waiting for us.” He inspired generations of talmidim. His impact on the nation and our community is immeasurable. “There is a flow of ruach that comes from Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim and strengthens all of us in our avodas Hashem.” He offered a brachah to the Yeshiva that it should continue to grow and that we should become partners in the ameilus baTorah of the talmidim.
By Susie Garber