Monday, March 06, 2006

Two Roshei Yeshivah and a Mashgi'ah in Teaneck

The following is a guest post on the visit of R. Aharon Schechter, R. Aharon Feldman and R. Matisyahu Salomon to Teaneck last night. Note that I was not there and did not write this.

I arrived at approximately 7:15 at the Bnai Yeshurun Shul. I saw many people milling about outside. It turns out that there were 2 series of talks. One was geared specifically for the younger generation, and I was witnessing this mass of humanity exiting.

I entered the Shul to find many of the seats already filled. People kept pouring in and very quickly there was no seating left. An announcement was made to have the women vacate one section of the Ezras Nashim to allow for the overflowing crowd.

We all waited in anticipation as more and more people arrived. Soon spare chairs filled the aisles and many found an area to stand. The excitement built and around 7:45 the speakers entered. Rav Ahron Schechter, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Chaim Berlin in Brooklyn, followed by Rav Ahron Feldman, Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Yisrael in Baltimore and Rav Matisyahu Soloman, the Mashgiach Ruchani of the Lakewood Yeshiva. The crowd burst into spontaneous song "Yamim al Y'mei Melech... as the dignitaries made there way to the dais.

Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, the rabbi of the Shul served as moderator and introduced RAS. Rav Aharon delivered a very high-level intellectual "maamar" on the Shofar, Tekiah of the Shofar, and the majesty of the Jewish People.

RAF spoke next. He joked that he was warned not to speak about Musar, and to make sure that his talk would be on a high enough level for the intellectuals of the community. He spoke about having a passion to do mitzvos, and if children would witness this they would not go off the Derech.

RMS spoke about the importance of Tefilah. His British accent lent an extra dimension to his delivery.

After the speeches, there was a Q&A session moderated by Rabbi Pruzansky. The Slifkin question did not come up, although I was told by someone who attended both sessions that RAS responded to it in the first session. One question dealt with Orthodox vs. Non Orthodox. This was initially parried, although RAS responded that he "doesn't understand the question", meaning, that there is no room for discussion with sects that deny the heart of Yiddishkeit.

Another question dealt with moving to Israel. RAS did not like the wording of the question that "we" should move...He said that everyone can ask their own Rav in their own personal case, as there are many factors, such as parnosoh, family etc.

Another question dealt with Tzniyus in the workplace. RAS recommended not calling female employees by their first name. He said that everyone should create their own safeguards.

One questioner posed a question re: Eilu V'Eilu. This was the closest anyone came to anything controversial. Although the panel initially did not want to answer the question as being "too vague", RAF took the microphone saying - we can't be coy about this, I think I know exactly what he is asking. He basically said that anyone who is really searching for the truth, not just using the Torah to push their agenda, can be relied upon.

One questioner asked the "holocaust" question. RMS answered pretty strongly that although Hashem answers Tefilos, that same person who talks in Shul can negate his Tefilos. What about Gedolim who perished in the holocaust? Sometimes Hashem includes them in his Gezeirah.

RAS was pretty strong about removing ourselves from the culture that we find ourselves in. Am Yisrael is different.

Since the hour was late, RSP stopped the questions, put the remaining index cards in his pocket and quipped that he would use them for future Derashos.

As the crowd was breaking up, RAS took back the mike one last time and requested that people "Remove The Tumaah".

Rav Heshy Grossman was thanked for spearheading and arranging the gathering.

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