On Tuesday evening, March 22, Yeshiva Kesser Torah hosted a virtual third yahrzeit commemoration of the Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshiva Kesser Torah, Rav Elyakim Getzel Rosenblatt zt”l. Rabbi Sholom Steinig, rav of the Young Israel of Bayside, spoke eloquently about his memories of Rabbi Rosenblatt. He shared that Rabbi Rosenblatt was an important community leader and a mentor and guide, and an example for the whole community.
Rabbi Steinig shared a d’var Torah that exemplified the Rosh Yeshivah. Yisro advised Moshe to take on judges to judge, because Yisro understood that Moshe was all about justice, and when people left his judgment, some were upset because they were told they were wrong. They came away feeling resentment. While Moshe was busy looking for other judges, the people would have time to work things out, and this way each person could feel good about himself.
Rabbi Rosenblatt exemplified this. There were no hates and no resentments. Every person was accepted and respected, and he never compromised on halachah, but he compromised on his own dignity. Every person felt comfortable at Kesser Torah, and that is the legacy of Yeshiva Kesser Torah. It provides a service to the whole community. People arriving from the airport know that when they arrive, they will find a minyan at Yeshiva Kesser Torah. There are minyanim available there until the middle of the night. Also, prayer at Kesser Torah is intense and personal. It’s not a minyan factory. The Rosh Yeshivah understood that every time we daven it’s an opportunity to stand before Hashem. He appreciated and used every moment to serve Hashem. Yeshiva Kesser Torah is a place of inspiration and t’filos on the highest level, dozens of times a day. Reprints of Rabbi Rosenblatt’s divrei Torah are there. He is alive in our hearts and our neshamos. “The yeshivah is a precious gift and community asset. This is the gift and the legacy of Rabbi Rosenblatt.”
Next, Rabbi Yaacov Bergman, rav of the Beis Midrash of Kew Gardens Hills, spoke. He shared a d’var Torah that taught that whatever we do, our goal is to do so for k’vod Shamayim. The goal of a Yid is to increase the honor of Hashem. People come to Yeshiva Kesser Torah, morning until night, to learn and to daven. “It’s a tremendous kiddush Hashem for the whole neighborhood. Baalei-batim know that they can find a minyan until the deep hours of the night. Yeshiva Kesser Torah is known for its slow davening with a lot of kavanah.” Rabbi Rosenblatt was a talmid of g’dolei ha’dor. It was a tremendous z’chus to hear stories from him first-hand. The Rebbetzin rebuilt the beis midrash in the rav’s memory and continues to make sure the minyanim run properly.
Following this, Rabbi Avraham Dovid Garber, rav of Yeshiva Kesser Torah, shared that when Rabbi Rosenblatt gave a shmuz he often quoted from Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz. Rav Shmuelevitz taught that when Shaul didn’t follow the command to wipe out all of Amaleik, this single sin cost him his life and his kingship. King David, on the other hand, had two sins, yet he retained his position. What was the difference between the two? King David’s sins were sending Uriah to the front line and ordering the census. Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz taught that the key is in the words that Shmuel HaNavi says to Shaul when he admonishes him for not wiping out Amaleik. “Are you so small in your eyes?” Humility has an appropriate place. Shaul needed to project majesty at this time. King David’s sins were not based on midos, so his t’shuvah was accepted. Shaul’s failure was rooted in character, so he lost the kingship. He didn’t have the midos appropriate for a king. This idea plays out in the Purim story, as well. Haman had everything, but because Mordechai didn’t bow to him, this angered him. Mordechai didn’t move. He was in total control of his emotions.
“The Torah’s emphasis on midos was Rabbi Rosenblatt’s focus in his “shmuzim.” He exemplified the midos of a talmid chacham. Everyone felt special when speaking with him. He used to address me as “rabbeinu.” He always used my Hebrew name. He made everyone feel special.” Alumni of the yeshivah live lives of b’nei Torah. The Rosh Yeshivah’s vision was Torah learning and slow heartfelt davening. Kesser Torah has always and continues to attract Jews from every background. Everyone feels welcomed in this warm, non-judgmental atmosphere. We see this in the weekly minyanim and the Shabbos minyanim, as well where Jews from all different backgrounds join together and daven with Rabbi Rosenblatt’s signature original nigunim. “The continued achdus in Yeshiva Kesser Torah is a testament to Rabbi Rosenblatt’s love of every Jew. The Rebbetzin and his children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren should be blessed to continue his vision.”
Next, Moshe Rosenblatt, son of Rabbi Rosenblatt, shared a d’var Torah that taught how we have to use every moment to serve Hashem. “My father did that and he also used his time to bring others close to Hashem. This should be a z’chus for klal Yisrael.”
Then, Yaakov Rosenblatt, son of Rabbi Rosenblatt, shared that this time, from Purim to Pesach, is a time of simchah. On Purim, we celebrate the miracle of salvation that leads us into Nisan with the tremendous salvation of coming out of Egypt. The miracles of Pesach took place before the miracle of Purim. The message we learn is that one miracle leads us to the next greater miracle. “You start with Purim and this progresses to the greater salvation yet to come.” In the month of Nisan, our forefathers were redeemed; so, too, in the time of Mashiach, full redemption will come in Nisan. “So it’s not a one-time event. There is spiritual potential in Nisan for salvation.” It’s a time of redemption for B’nei Yisrael, the world at large, and for every single person’s needs. “My father’s focus in life was to bring redemption to every neshamah. He would ask, what can I do to help? Then he would proceed to help each person in his or her personal growth in Yiddishkeit.”
Yaakov noted that Rabbi Rosenblatt’s divrei Torah on TorahAnytime and his “shmuzim” continue to inspire people. Moshe and Yaakov then made a siyum on Moed Katan. Yaakov noted that Moed Katan ends with a strong lesson. Whoever goes directly from shul to the beis midrash or vice versa will merit to greet the Sh’chinah. It says they go from multitude to multitude. The Gemara says that someone who is constantly performing the service of Hashem with a multitude, davening and learning Torah with a group, will merit to join a multitude to greet the Sh’chinah in Israel on the three pilgrimage holidays.
Following this, there were short video clips of Rabbi Rosenblatt speaking, davening on Chol HaMoed Sukkos, and singing his famous original nigunim at Yeshiva Kesser Torah m’laveh malkahs.
One teaching that Rabbi Rosenblatt shared was that the yeitzer ha’ra says to not give tz’dakah. The Shulchan Aruch tells us that a person will never get poor because he gives tz’dakah. This is the tool we have to fight the yeitzer ha’ra. We have to talk back to it and say you are a liar. We can give tz’dakah with joy and happiness.
Don’t light a fire on Shabbos. “That’s the simple!” The chasidishe Torahalach say, “Don’t wait until Shabbos to light the fire of enthusiasm for Shabbos. Start preparing on Sunday for the following Shabbos, so by Shabbos it will be a tremendous flame!”
Listening to the Rosh Yeshivah speak and hearing his beautiful melodies brought back so many happy memories. We encourage everyone to donate in his memory to Yeshiva Kesser Torah.org or send a check to 72-21 Vleigh Place, Kew Gardens Hills, NY 11367.