Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Hazon Ish on Attending YU

Dr. Alvin Schiff writes the following about his decision to attend Yeshiva College in My Yeshiva College: 75 Years of Memories, pp. 268-269:

I also received support regarding my decision to attend YC from an unexpected source. My mother was a first cousin of R. Avraham Karelitz — the Hazon Ish — the Talmudic luminary of the first half of the twentieth century and my parents’ shadkhan. During the last fifteen years of his life, the Hazon Ish lived in the modest home of my uncle, R. Gershon Schreibman, who would come each summer to the United States “tzu kempfen par shabbos” — to do battle for Sabbath observance. When I completed my sophomore year in high school, my uncle suggested that it would be a good idea to seek guidance from the Hazon Ish regarding the choice of a yeshiva in New York to attend after the completion of high school. My father, known as the Brezer Illui in Lithuania, skeptically agreed. There were four possibilities for me: Mesivta Torah Vodaath, Yeshivat Chaim Berlin, Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem, where R. Shmuel Greineman, cousin of both the Hazon Ish and my mother, was the menahel, and RIETS.

The following summer, my uncle returned with a Yiddish note penned on a brown paper bag. Translated, the message said: “Avremeleh [my Yiddish name], I think that it is a good idea for you to study in Revel’s yeshiva. There you can excel in learning if you so desire. Moreover, you could study for a trade or profession in the secular department. But, remember, in the cold weather you should wear a warm coat.” This latter reference refers to the environment in which I would be exposed to secular studies. In order not to be unduly influenced, I would need Judaic reinforcement.

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