Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Unforgettable Lectures

My mother always returns from her trips to Israel with presents for my children. From her most recent trip, however, she returned with a gift for me. On an impulse, she bought me a book that she had seen in a store, R. Yisrael Meir Lau's autobiography Al Tishlakh Yadekha El Ha-Na'ar.

The book is a mixed bag, with a lot of very different stories of personal, religious, and political interest -- although all very well written. There is a long section about Rabbi Lau's years in yeshivah, his close relationship with R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, his year of contact with R. Eliyahu Lopian, his time in the Ponevezher Yeshivah under R. Yosef Kahaneman and R. Elazar Shach, and more. He also discusses his relationships with the Gerrer Rebbe, the Lubavitcher Rebbe and R. Yitzhak Herzog. About the latter, when R. Lau was a young student in the Kol Torah Yeshiva, he was one of the few who regularly attended R. Herzog's home for a private minyan. R. Lau tells the following story (pp. 170-171):

An unforgettable experience was the weekly lecture in the Jerusalem Talmud that took place in R. Herzog's house every Friday morning. I merited seeing there great Torah scholars of the generation because the lecture was for extremely exceptional individuals. It is sufficient if I list some names [of attendees] that stick out, among them R. Isser Zalman Meltzer and R. Mikhel Tukaczinsky -- deans of the Etz Hayim Yeshivah; the chief dayan of London, R. Yehezkel Abramsky -- author of Hazon Yehezkel who moved to Israel and served as a dean of the Slabodka Yeshivah in Bnei Brak; R. Herzog's father-in-law, R. Shmuel Yosef Hillman. Three young men who attended the lecture were the rabbi of Jerusalem, R. Betzalel Zolty; my teacher R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach; and his mehutan, R. Yosef Shalom Elyashiv.
(Yes, that's the same R. Yitzhak Herzog who had previously written this and this, and the same R. Yosef Shalom Elyashim who signed this.)

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