Gedolei Yisrael led by Rav Binyomin Finkel Grace the Event
It was at the beautiful chanukas habayis for the striking building of Yeshivas Acheinu L’Tzeirim and the mayor of Kiryat Sefer, Rabbi Yaakov Gutterman, was addressing the crowd. His words encapsulated the unique nes, that is Yeshivas Acheinu.
“Why does this yeshiva exist in Kiryat Sefer?” asked Rabbi Gutterman. “The bachurim who attend Yeshivas Acheinu are not even from Kiryat Sefer?! They come from all over Eretz Yisrael. Furthermore, why did the city agree, at my urging, to give the yeshiva not just room for one building but a large campus that could really contain two large yeshivos?”
“You know why? I will tell you. Kiryat Sefer is a city of avreichim. The lion’s share of this city’s residents are kollel yungeleit. I felt that this city also needed something that could serve as a tremendous lesson for the yungeleit. Do you know what Yeshivas Acheinu is? It is a corner of Kiryat Sefer that teaches us achrayus for Klal Yisrael. Yes, of course, the limud haTorah of these avreichim holds up the world! It is the most important thing in the world! Talmud Torah k’neged kulam. Yet, there is another lesson to be learned by our wonderful residents, that is the lesson of achrayus for Klal Yisrael. We must all feel a responsibility to share our Torah and to plant Torah in soil that that has heretofore not been hospitable to Torah. That is Yeshivas Acheinu!”
“When one observes the hanhalah of Yeshivas Acheinu,” Rabbi Gutterman continued, “do you know what you see? You see the ‘meshugaim’ of Acheinu, the hanhallah of the yeshiva who have not gone into harbotzas haTorah to say a k’nock of a shiur, or to have talmidim running after them. They work and work to imbue in the yeshiva’s bachurim new horizons, new musagim.
Perhaps those remarks from the mayor encapsulate the historic nature of the chanukas habayis for Yeshivas Acheinu in Kiryat Sefer dedicated in memory of Reb Nosson Notta and Mrs. Chaya Sarah Hofstedter, explain the mission of Yeshivas Acheinu L’Tzeirim and the reason why the founder and greatest backer of the yeshiva, HaGaon HaRav Aharon Leib Shteinman, zt”l, invested his heart and soul in ensuring the yeshiva was established and thrived against all odds.
Yeshivas Acheinu was Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman’s brainchild, his baby. In its early years in Har Nof, the yeshiva faced all kinds of difficulties and members of the hanhallah were often overwhelmed at the magnitude of the task before them. Rav Shteinman never let them give up. He pushed and pushed and eventually they began to see the most wonderful fruits of their labor.
Several years ago, the yeshiva moved to Kiryat Sefer. As the yeshiva established itself as a premier yeshiva catering to Torani students, Rav Dovid Hofstedter, the Nasi of Dirshu, undertook to build a beautiful campus with all the amenities necessary to assure maximum hatzlacha for the bachurim.
Last week, the chanukas habayis for the stunning new campus was held. The day began with a grand bechina on the masechta that the bachurim were learning. The bechina was given by Hagaon HaRav Yitzchok Shaul Kanivesky, shlita, a son of the Sar HaTorah, Hagaon HaRav Chaim, zt”l. It was amazing to see how Rav Yitzchok Shaul asked the bachurim difficult questions. When a bachur would give an excellent answer, Rav Yitzchok Shaul would give him a bracha that sounded like those given by his father, Rav Chaim. “You should merit to know all of Shas as well as you know this!”
Rav Binyomin Finkel became emotional when he observed the bachurim and the beautiful campus. “I didn’t come to speak,” he said, “I didn’t come to get kavod or to give kavod. You know why I came tonight? I came to spend time with my dear friends, the chavrei Acheinu, the wonderful Yidden who lead this unique yeshiva. I can say without doubt that the hanhalah of this yeshiva works completely l’shem shomayim. All they care about is making Torah beloved in the eyes of their talmidim.
One of the highlights of the evening was the deeply moving drasha given by the Nasi of Dirshu, Rav Dovid Hofstedter, shlita. Rav Dovid spoke with great feeling about his parents, Reb Nosson Nota and Mrs. Chaya Sarah Hofstedter, after whom the campus is named.
He spoke about one of the defining characteristics that he saw in his parents; the middah of achrayus, of taking responsibility not only for their own family and well-being but also on behalf of Klal Yisrael.
Rav Dovid depicted the was the world liked in the aftermath of the Holocaust, when his parents came to Toronto, after having lost so much and suffered so much. He said that so many Holocaust survivors were scared to rebuild the life, the Torah life that they had seen in their youth. They were afraid that being “too Jewish” would arouse anti-Semitism. They preferred just to blend in. The chinuch situation in Toronto was not optimal at all in those days. There was no post-elementary school yeshiva in town, and no one had even heard of a concept called kollel at that time.
“My father undertook to build a yeshiva, mikvaos, shuls... He felt a deep sense of responsibility for Klal Yisrael and, despite the tremendous prevailing atmosphere of yiush during those first decades after the war, he persevered and was instrumental in raising the level of chinuch and Yiddishkeit in Toronto to levels that could not even be contemplated earlier.
“My mother, in addition to supporting my father in all that he did, similarly possessed great compassion for everyone and a love of Torah and mitzvos and a sense of idealism. I remember how, towards the end of her life when we were talking about Acheinu and the need to reach out and draw Israeli youth close, showing them the beauty of Yiddishkeit, she said that she would be ready to sell her jewelry and give the proceeds to help support Acheinu. ‘Why do I need jewelry? There is so much good that can be done with it!’ she exclaimed.”
Rav Zev Hofstedter, who has served as Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Acheinu since its inception, explained that throughout his own life he has seen his own parents, Rav and Rebbetzin Hofstedter, follow in the path of their parents, always focusing on their responsibilities to the klal. They carry the ol, the yoke responsibly on their shoulders and have inherited this feeling of obligation to constantly give back to Klal Yisrael, further enriching Klal Yisrael with more Torah and more mosdos of Torah and chessed.
Rav Shraga Shteinman: “It is so Sweet to Talk in Learning… to These Bachurim!”
Another deeply moving event was the test that the bachurim in Yeshivas Acheinu were given by HaGaon HaRav Shraga Shteinman, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Orchos Torah, a son of Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman and a son-in-law, of the Sar HaTorah, Rav Chaim Kanievsky, zt”l.
The farher took place in the hallowed home of Rav Aharon Leib, between the Torah-saturated walls that had absorbed the pure Torah of Rav Aharon Leib for more than seventy years. As Rav Shraga asked question after question, he became emotional. He had been privy to his father’s mesiras nefesh for the yeshiva and, seeing the fruits of his father’s labor - boys who clearly came from homes that were far from Torah and who have progressed so much - filled him with joy. Rav Shraga was so moved that he told the Rebbeim, “It is so sweet to sit and talk in learning and ask questions to these bachurim that I don’t want to stop!”
By Chaim Gold