26 March 2017

'The Zookeeper's Wife’ – A True Story of Saving Jewish Lives

'The Zookeeper's Wife’ 
A True Story of Saving Jewish Lives 
(A Polish couple who hid 300 Jews in their zoo during the Holocaust)

The following are testimonials from those who were saved, some living in Israel now.

"I remember squatting under this concrete shelf in the basement and keeping my hand over my sister's mouth to muffle her cries because she was constantly crying, day and night," said Moshe Tirosh, aged five at the time.

"When someone slammed the door upstairs, fear would pass through me, lest they find us," the 80-year-old told AFP in a telephone interview. The retired businessman and grandfather-of-seven, who has lived in Israel since 1957, still cannot believe what he lived through.

"I saw children's dead bodies on the street. Terrible things... I remember wondering why everyone wants to kill us. I couldn't understand it,"

"My parents figured that it's always darkest under a lamppost," the zoo couple's daughter Teresa Zabinska said, citing a Polish saying according to which it is best to hide in plain sight.

"My father knew that it wouldn't occur to the Germans that so many people could be hiding in a place like this with open windows and no curtains,"

"The hardest was explaining away the increase in daily meals"

Tirosh had suffered two years in the ghetto, marked by hunger, typhus and near deportation to the Treblinka death camp. To escape Warsaw's Jewish quarter, his family paid off the guards and Tirosh and his sister were thrown over the wall in sacks while their parents climbed over. On arriving at the zoo, Antonina's empathy and reassuring calm told them they were in good hands.

"She was extraordinary. I was a small boy who was very afraid of everything. But when I saw her face, I calmed right down. I still remember that feeling,"

Official Trailer: The Zookeeper's Wife
The real-life story of one working wife and mother who became a hero to hundreds during World War II.

Source: FocusFeatures

23 March 2017

Parshas Vayakhel/Pekudey - Hachodesh

By Roy S. Neuberger

Pesach is approaching. 
We have to think about how Yetzias Mitzraim applies to us.

I want to ask: why is anti-Semitism on the increase since the inauguration of President Trump? This seems surprising in light of this administration’s perceived friendliness toward Israel.

My wife and I once traveled to Germany. We learned that, over the centuries, German Jews were extremely firm in the face of terrible adversity. Families were willing to die al kiddush Hashem rather than compromise their allegiance to Torah. But then the ghetto gates opened and the non-Jewish world allowed us to enter, and everything changed. This nisayon, the challenge of freedom and acceptance by the non-Jewish world, proved most the difficult test of all, and became a stumbling block for huge numbers of our brethren.

“In 1844, there was an assembly of Reform Jews in Germany. They ‘abolished’ many of the mitzvos, in effect creating for themselves a new Torah. When Rabbi Yisroel Salanter heard about this gathering, he declared, ‘They made a new ‘Shulchan Aruch,’ and permitted marriage to a non-Jew. There will come a time when the gentiles will [write their own] ‘Shulchan Aruch’ and make marriage to a Jew a transgression punishable by death.’ Ninety years later, right there in Germany, the Nuremberg Laws were instituted, making it a capital offense for a Jew to live with a gentile.” (Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe, Shiurei Chumash, Parshas Yisro 18:11, Artscroll Edition, brought to my attention by Rabbi Osher Anshul Jungreis)

We Jews have a weakness when we are accepted by non-Jews. We tend to forget that other nations receive their blessing from us, not the reverse. This challenge is alluded to in the Torah, when Yaakov Avinu begs Hashem, “Please rescue me from my brother, from Esav.” (Beraishis 32:12) Why did Yaakov need to refer to Esav as “my brother?” Obviously Esav was his brother!

The Beis Halevi explains that Esav has two faces, the fearsome face of “Esav,” and the ostensibly friendly face of “my brother.” The face of “my brother” is even more dangerous, because we can be fooled into thinking that Esav is really our friend. (Talelei Oros)

It is vital for us to understand that the Geulah Shelemah is not going to emanate from the other nations, no matter how well-disposed they may be toward us. Our Redemption will come about only when we resume our proper role as Goy Kadosh and Mamlechet Kohanim (Shemos 19:6). As Chazal say, “What can a person do to be spared the travail of the Moshiach? One should occupy himself in Torah and in acts of kindness.” (Sanhedrin 98b)

We are about to enter Chodesh Nissan. We can learn how to survive in the coming years from the lessons we learned in Mitzraim, where we were spiritually vulnerable. The Avos and the Shvatim were no longer with us. Without leadership, we were sinking into the amoral culture of a idolatrous world. Hashem sent a Redeemer in the person of Moshe Rabbeinu; only those who followed him were able to survive. As it was, four fifths of our People fell into the trap of sinking into the surrounding culture and never escaped from Mitzraim.

Moshe Rabbeinu was not afraid of Paro. Although he grew up in the palace, he rejected the culture. One can cleave to Hashem only if one accepts the authority of the Torah, which means rejecting the authority of that which is not Torah. We have to understand this.

Just as our ancestors in Mitzraim were bereft of the Avos and Shvatim, so are we in this generation bereft of godolim who are respected and followed by all of Am Yisroel. How many great roshei yeshiva and universally-respected godolim remain? Only a few. We are surrounded by shrill voices trying to claim our allegiance. We are alone in a world of violence and danger, in which it is extremely difficult to find a person of Torah wisdom and integrity.

“In the Generation in which Ben Dovid will come, [the number of] Torah scholars will decrease, and [as for] the rest [of the people] their eyes will become worn out through grief and anxiety. Numerous troubles and harsh decrees will be [constantly] appearing…. Before the first [trouble] is over, a second one will … appear…. Rav said: All the ‘ends’ have passed, and the matter [of Moshiach’s arrival] depends only on repentance and good deeds.” (Sanhedrin 97a/b)

The events of Yetzias Mitzraim should be occupying our thoughts during these rarified and holy days. Just as we are now engaged in eliminating every crumb of chometz from our homes, so we should be engaged in eliminating every crumb of attachment to the alien and dangerous society which surrounds us.

This may be the most challenging era in the history of the world. The voices of emptiness are crying out, trying to lure us to destruction, like the daughters of Moav (Bamidbar 25:1ff). Even in the Midbar, after leaving Mitzraim, our ancestors heard those voices, as it says, “The entire assembly of the Children of Israel complained against Moshe and Aharon … ‘If only we had died by the hand of Hashem in the land of Egypt, as we sat by the pot of meat, when we ate bread to satiety….’” (Shemos 16:2-3)

We are challenged greatly by the surrounding culture, but, if we listen carefully, we can hear Hashem’s Voice calling out to us. Soon, “all the ends” will have passed and Moshiach will appear in his glory. We must detach ourselves now from the alien world which is even now disintegrating, just as Mitzraim disintegrated so many millennia ago.

A new world is coming, and we want to be there to worship the King in Yerushalayim, the Capital of the World on the day that Hashem Echad Ushmo Echad!

* * * *
Roy Neuberger, author and public speaker, can be reached at roy@2020vision.co.il.

© Copyright 2017 by Roy S. Neuberger

22 March 2017

"Wave of Insanity” – A Cultural War

A Wave of Insanity is Overtaking Elements of Israeli Society having a Deleterious effect on all of Israeli Society. This endangers the continuity of the Jewish People and the Jewish Nation. 
[UPDATE: See video at end]

Rabbi Melamed: A wave of insanity has permeated the IDF [. . .] calls for an end to the 'leftist-inspired cultural war'. 
"They tell us, Rabbi, that we religious are backward and primitive. We are in the 21st century, they say, get real, what reasons can we provide for not having women serving in combat units alongside men?”
Rabbi Melamed: The way of life set out by the Jewish faith is the most progressive lifestyle there is. This ethical way of life has survived many attempts to overcome it with transient, inane and sometimes evil societal mores.

Rabbi Melamed: There is no question that we are embroiled in a culture war that has infiltrated the IDF. For the last year and half, there is a negative feeling emanating from IDF upper echelons with regard to the IDF Rabbinate. [. . .]Its role has been downsized. [. . .] IDF rabbis also were tasked with teaching Jewish identity, Jewish consciousness. a feeling of Jewish continuity, all of which contributed a great deal to the spirit and ideology of the soldiers guarding Israel and the Land of Israel. ArutzSheva

The Cultural War Doesn’t Begin 
and End in the IDF

Maaleh Adumim: Christianity in an Orthodox kindergarten?
Mother discovers non-Jewish child enrolled in her daughter's Orthodox kindergarten is spreading Christian beliefs. ArutzSheva

Efrat Levy spoke with Arutz Sheva about the kindergarten, and the effect it had on her daughter. Levy’s suspicions were initially raised after her young daughter began repeating slogans which did not fit the religious environment in which she was being raised. Some of the comments had explicitly Christian content: “Jxxxx is God”, “Jxxxx is the Messiah”, and so forth.

“I didn’t send my daughter to a religious kindergarten so that she would come home saying things about Jesus,” 

The Cultural War Continues with 
Innoculating Foreign Worship to Children

Parents in Caesarea are up in arms over their children apparently being asked or required to bow down in a mosque, mimicking the Muslim form of prayer, when they were taken on a class trip to a mosque in the Arab town of Jisr a-Zarka. Images of the visit reached Channel 20, and were broadcast, leading parents to inundate the offices of local and national education officials with complaints.

The Caeserea elementary school that the children attend is known to be “open” to other cultures, and has a comprehensive program for children to explore and experience all aspects of Israeli culture. But parents of the students in question called the visit “ridiculous. What would happen if they took the Muslim children of that town to a synagogue and made them bow?”

TO this Rabbi Mizrachi said (paraphrased), "if they were taken to a Synagogue, all out war would erupt in Israel. A Mosque is okay, but a Synagogue . . . .!”

. . . And also poisoning Kindergarten Children

City council member (
Herzliya) dismissed for opposing heterophobic values.  Elad Zadikov dismissed from coalition and Torah culture portfolio for opposition to anti-family value dissemination ​​in kindergartens. . . .claimed to the mayor that he is turning the Herzliya education system "into the first in Israel to impart deviant tendency values ​​as a normal model, even to be emulated." ArutzSheva

"On behalf of what public," he asked, "were you allowed to poison the minds of our kindergarten children and introduce a spirit of lasciviousness and confusion into the tender souls of Herzliya's 3,4,5-year-olds!? The fact that they are affiliated with the general public education system does not allow anyone to confuse basic concepts and the traditional values ​​of home and family unit."

Zadikov: 'Irrational decision that poisons our children’: Herzliya City Council member 'shaken by kindergartens pushing deviant tendencies', calls on mayor to ban agitators from education system:

"Among the recommendations to kindergarten teachers and their assistants: Eliminating the concept of 'father and mother of the Sabbath' classroom role-playing; deliberate identity confusion: No dolls for girls, no boy's games; providing a female role model for male professions; explaining to kindergarten children that there is a wide range of family units, including for example: two mothers, or two fathers, or a mother and father who live apart, or the mother and her friend, or the father and his friend (for 4-year-olds)!!??

Fadlon (of Hoshen) responded to Zadikov that "the education system in our city is among the most advanced and enlightened in the State of Israel. 

Who and What is Hoshen:

Hoshen (in Hebrew, an acronym for "Education and Change") is the public education and awareness-raising arm of the LGBT community in Israel. We are a nationwide, non-profit organization whose purpose is to challenge the stereotypes surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity while training the Israeli professional community to better deal with these issues.

Sota 49b: "In the footsteps of Mashiach the Government will turn to heresy”

Historic Etz Chaim Yeshiva in Jerusalem

Historic Etz Chaim Yeshiva Building to be Preserved and Updated into the Surrounding Machne Yehuda Area

Pei, Cobb, Freed and Partners, the firm tasked with projects like the Grand Louvre and the US Holocaust Museum, are now planning on preserving and updating the Etz Chaim Yeshiva complex. Situated next door to Machane Yehuda, the firm is sensitive to the needs and history of the location.

About the Historic Early 20th Century Etz Chaim Yeshiva 
ישיבת עץ החיים
הישיבה היתה ברחוב יפו 115 והיום, תוך פעילות שימור, האזור הופך לחלק מהשוק.
הישיבה נוסדה בעיר העתיקה בשנת 1841 על ידי הרב שמואל סלנט. משנות ה – 50 של המאה ה – 19 שכנה הישיבה בחצר ה"חורבה" שבמרכז הרובע היהודי. בישיבה היו 13 כיתות (רמות לימוד) כאשר המעבר מרמה לרמה היתה תלויה ביכולתו של התלמיד ולא בהכרח בגילו. הילדים נכנסו לישיבה בגיל צעיר מאד ולמדו בה עד לנישואיהם.
עם זקנותו מינה הרב שמואל סלנט את בעלה של נכדתו – הרב יחיאל מיכל טוקצ'ינסקי למנהל הישיבה והוא זה שיזם את הקמת הסניף ברחוב יפו . אז הוקם במקום גם "כולל" שהוא ישיבה עבור התלמידים שנישאו.

שני אישים מפורסמים מאד כיהנו בישיבה והם: הרב איסר זלמן מלצר שעמד בראש הישיבה החל [English text follows]  משנת 1925 והרב אריה לוין שכיהן כמשגיח

בשנת 1910 נפתח הסניף של הישיבה ברחוב יפו כאשר היה שם בית ישן, אליו נכנסה הישיבה. כדי להגדיל את הכנסות הישיבה נבנו חנויות להשכרה על גבול השוק ובקצה המגרש של הישיבה ברחוב יפו. בשנת 1934 הוקם מבנה נוסף מפואר בין הבניין הישן ורחוב יפו ובשנת 1936 יצאה הישיבה מהעיר העתיקה ומרכזה היה בסניף של רחוב יפו. בשיא גדלה הגיעה הישיבה ל – 13 סניפים שהיו פזורים ברחבי העיר.
במסגרת עבודות הקמת הרכבת הקלה הוסרו החנויות של רחוב יפו ונשארה רק החזית שלהן.
בשנת 2010 עזבה הישיבה את המתחם ברחוב יפו והמקום מיועד למתחם חנויות, משרדים ומגורים. הישיבה עתידה לעבור למתחם בית הספר למל ברחוב ישעיהו.
"ישיבת עץ חיים" נמצאת באתר "אהבת ירושלים" במסגרת - "סיור ברחוב יפו (4)"

WIKIPEDIA: Etz Chaim Yeshiva was originally a Talmud Torah that was established in 1841 by the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Shmuel Salant. For the first two years classes were held in various rooms throughout the Old City. 

In 1857, the yeshiva consolidated into a group of buildings adjacent to the Hurva Synagogue, sharing the premises with the Beth Din of Jerusalem. It was at this stage that the institution was renamed "Etz Chaim Yeshiva." The first permanent home of the yeshiva was financed by Rabbi Tzvi Zeev Fiszbejn (Fishbein in English), a wealthy brush maker originally from Miedzyrzec Podlaski in what is today Poland, who donated a thousand rubles in silver to Rabbi Salant for that purpose in 1863.

The head teacher was Rabbi Chaim Mann. His brother Yehuda Leib Mann was the secretary who also served as a teacher. They were the sons of Rabbi Yaakov Mann, who was a prominent scholar who had declined the invitation of Rabbi Tzvi Pesach Frank to become a dayan on the Beth Din. (He went on to build the Sha'arey Tzedek Medical Center and the Lemel school). As the yeshiva expanded, a plot of land on Jaffa Road was acquired in 1908, and subsequently a kollel was established catering mainly for the alumni of the yeshiva. At the time Rabbi Yechiel Michel Tukichinsky, who was married to the granddaughter of Rabbi Salant, served as the rosh yeshiva.
After disputes arose between the pupils and the faculty, a permanent agreement was reached by Rabbi Tzvi Pesach Frank, who reallocated the positions of authority.
In 1925, Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer was appointed to lead the yeshiva and Rabbi Aryeh Levin was made the mashgiach. After the death of Rabbi Meltzer, his son-in-law, Rabbi Aharon Kotler, was appointed rosh yeshiva. In an unusual arrangement, he held this position while continuing to live in the United States, and visited Jerusalem on occasion. During the periods when he resided in Israel he delivered fortnightly lectures. After his death, Rabbi Elazar Shach was chosen to head the yeshiva and he also delivered fortnightly lectures. Some time later, Rabbi Yisroel Yaakov Fisher took up a position at the yeshiva. A grandson of Rabbi Aharon Kotler, Rabbi Zvulun Schwartzman, has served as one of the primary leaders.
A grandson of Rabbi Salant, Rabbi Nissan Tukichinsky, the son of Rabbi Yechiel Michel Tukichinsky, serves as head and director of the institution. For many years he traveled to the United States and South Africa to raise money to keep the institution functioning.

Although the yeshiva building on Jaffa Road is registered on Jerusalem's List of Protected Monuments, in 2007 the building was under the threat of demolition to make way for shops and offices. The authorities accepted an appeal for the buildings’ preservation. [Etz Chaim Yeshiva Building Saved from Destruction. Following the dramatic decision to save vast Jerusalem Forest areas from the massive Safdie construction program, conservatives have now won another round, saving the 100-year-old Etz Chaim yeshiva. Article from January 2007.]

21 March 2017

The Cosmic Clock Conundrum

Cosmic Clock Conundrum

According to what I read at Rav Shmuel Eliyahu on Geula, I have a challenge:

Back then, 2012, I commented that “It is amazing how close we are B”H.”

Comparing 2012 to 2017,  I can still say, we are getting closer; obvious from the events taking place in the world, the revelation about Nibiru, and the (creeping along) Cosmic Clock.

But I have a challenge for anyone who reads this to please help us understand where this Cosmic Clock is taking us, to what hour do we reach whatever we are supposed to reach?

From the above article I read:

"The weakening of the Kelipa - the year 5750 - Noon on the sixth day” = 12:00 pm (approx)

March 20 the Cosmic Clock is at 12:38:07.96081

Which means we have advanced approx 38 minutes in 27 years!

In another 27 years, we will be at 5804 and approx 51:18.8.

Therefore, from 5750 to 5777 the Clock has advanced by 38:07.96081 (rounded to 38.8, yes, only approx)

At this rate when will we reach “the Magic Hour". Is it Shabbat? And is it Shabbat summer time, or Shabbat winter time?

I am not qualified to do justice to the above estimates, so  anyone good in math, please calculate and clarify:

1. Will time speed up so we reach “the Magic Hour” and the Geula and Mashiach will be in process; or is it that the Final Redemption occurs?

2. At what hour on the Cosmic Clock will we reach the year 6000?

3. Advancing another approx 38.8 years we will reach 5842

4. All total from 5750 to 6000 we will have gone through 6.44, time periods of 38.8 min/sec.

Of course, I expect Mashiach to come “today” (or “tomorrow”), but in another 250 years we (this generation expecting and writing about the Geula and Mashiach) will not be around.

What are we to make of this? Please apply your wisdom “CLEARLY” so those of us challenged can understand.

"I Think He Is Going To Get Himself Out"

[Ripley’s "Believe it or Not]
Senator Hints That Trump May Resign:
"I Think He Is Going To Get Himself Out”
("pot calling kettle black")

It’s no secret that there is a concerted effort underway to do everything possible to remove President Donald Trump from office.

"From Russian ties to business conflicts of interests, both Democrats and Republicans are actively working to find chinks in the President’s armor."

"But for those with hope of change in their hearts, Democrat Senator Diane Feinstein says there is a possibility that Trump will eventually remove himself from office by filing his own resignation."

Speaking to a crowd during a town hall-style Questions and Answers session, Feinstein was asked how Congress is going to deal with Trump’s alleged illegal activities:

Journalist: We don’t know what’s happening but we know that he is breaking laws every day, he’s making money at Mar-a-lago, he’s getting copyrights in China, he has obvious dealings with Russia, the Dakota pipeline… there’s some many things that he’s doing that are unconstitutional… how are we going to get him out?

Feinstein: We have a lot of people looking at this… Technical people… I think he’s going to get himself out… I think sending sons to another country to make a financial deal for his company and then have that covered with government expenses… I think those government expenses should not be allowed.. we are working on a bill that will deal with conflict of interest… it’s difficult…

Videos of Feinstein speaking to what appears to be a local press pool of reporters and protesters appear [on ZeroHedge link below]. 

You can jump to 1:30 in the first video to listen to Feinstein discuss Trump’s conflicts of interests, or watch from the beginning to hear Feinstein’s response to how her husband’s firm directly benefited from bills she voted into law, proving once again that the hypocrisy of socialist Congressional representatives from California has no bounds…

Appeared on ZeroHedge by Tyler Durden, Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com. Two Twitter Videos of Senator Feinstein speaking to reporters.

My Note: Because she spoke out about Trumps personal dealings, she is in for a BIG surprise. When he hears this we may see all the transactions the Senator and her husband benefited from as it “hits the fan”. She’s in for it. Comey: Trump Uses 'POTUS' Account To Tweet FBI Director "Refuses To Deny" Briefing Obama On Flynn, now Feinstein.

20 March 2017

Documentary On Rav Elyashiv Zt’'l (b'Ivrit)

Tribute to Rav Yisrael Ze'ev Gustman

I saw this link at yeranenyaakov. This is about a very famous Rav, established the Shul – Beis Medrash that my Husband is a member, and where I daven. The Rav zt’l is no longer with us, but his daughter, the Rebbetzen of the present Rav of the Shul, Rabbi Berniker is very much with us. Therefore, I herewith present an article written by David Page for Matzav.com.

Rav Gustman: “I Fulfilled the Mitzvah of Mechiyas Zecher Amalek With My Bare Hands”

On the eve of our reading Parshas Zachor, there are few Jews today who can say that they merited to fulfill the Mitzvah of Mechiyas Zecher Amalek even in a small way. Yet there are many alive today who knew such a person personally and who learned from him: Until twenty-five years ago, one of the greatest Torah scholars and Dayanim of his generation used to say that he himself had fulfilled that Mitzvah, even among the horrors of the Holocaust in Europe. The Torah scholar was Rav Yisrael Ze’ev Gustman, ZT”L, the last Dayan of pre-War Vilna and the great Rosh Yeshiva after the War.

Rav Gustman indeed had survived as the only pre-War Dayan of Rav Chaim Ozer Gradzhensky’s Beis Din in Vilna. The Nazis Y”S rounded up all the members of the Rabbinical Court when they marched into Lithuania on the 16th of Sivan, 5700, and then on the night of the 17th of Tammuz systematically rounded up and murdered all the prominent rabbinic figures and dayanim in Vilna. Among those on their target list was Rav Gustman. The Nazis took out the distinguished dayan, the star student of the great Rosh Yeshiva R’ Shimon Shkop ZT”L and the right-hand man of R’ Chaim Ozer Gradzhensky, into the courtyard in front of his home and beat him until his blood flowed, briefly leaving him for dead. But he was only unconscious, and he managed to pick himself up and hide in the tall vegetation growing near his home. He shaved off his beard so as not to be identified and passed as a simple Jew. Soon thereafter, he and his family were rounded up and forced into the Vilna Ghetto, where he helped countless of his fellow Jews via acts of kindness, including sharing his meager rations with the elderly widow of R’ Chaim Ozer and ruling on many questions of life and death as a dayan.

Rav Gustman escaped together with his wife and daughter to the forest outside Vilna. There he sought to join the Jewish Partisans fighting the Nazis. But the condition of joining was to bring one’s own weapon, so Rav Gustman, who was immensely physically strong (and until the War had used his strength to aid him in his Torah studies and rabbinical duties), ambushed and killed a Nazi soldier, and took his weapon. He used to look down at his hands and relate, “I fulfilled the Mitzvah of Mechiyas Zecher Amalek with my bare hands.” He once saw an Israeli soldier disassembling and reassembling his rifle and said, “I know how to do it faster.” With very little food, Rav Gustman and his fellow partisans fought on until the end of the War. At one point, he split a single pea he found in the forest with his wife and daughter, relating that he found out at that time on just how little a person could survive.

When he was asked immediately after the War by the Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of the State of Israel, Rav Yitzchak HaLevy Herzog, ZT”L, to explain the miracles (nisim) of survival that occurred during the War, he replied that in the context of such immense tragedy and catastrophe, it was incorrect to speak of miracles, but rather of “decrees” (gezeiros) of “who shall live, and who shall die.”

Yet Rav Gustman’s contribution to the fight against Amalek was not only physical, but also spiritual, in Amalek’s manifestation as the Gematria of safek, doubting the rule of G-d in the world and His Torah. First, in the Ghetto, Rav Gustman strengthened the faith of his fellow Jews, even those facing imminent death. He testified about himself that at no point did he lose his own faith in the Ribono shel Olam. He encouraged desperate people to hope, not to despair, and not to end their own lives, telling them that the War would soon end with the survival of the Jewish people. He himself related that he often had to encourage himself as well, so difficult were those days. Among other unspeakable atrocities, Rav Gustman witnessed the murder of his own son, Meirke, whom the Nazis discovered in a makeshift hiding place. And after the War, Rav Gustman assisted in the rebuilding of the devastated Torah world, raising up a wealth of distinguished Talmidim and Dayanim both in America and Israel. He stressed the shlemus (integrated character development with Torah scholarship) of the person. He was infinitely patient, sitting with even the slowest students going over Sugyos in the Gemarra until they understood. Yet at the same time, he would recite from memory R’ Shimon Shkop’s shiurim and his own Kuntrasei Shiurim are a model of depth and clarity.

Yet R’ Gustman’s story is one that embodies hope for the Jewish people. He was not broken by his experiences, but deepened by them. He was a person of both deep Simcha and deep dedication to life in its fullest sense. In his approach, he provided a window into the pre-War Torah world for his students, both via his own learning and teaching and by relating stories of that world that inspired and challenged the students. One such story was that of his fellow Grodno student, R’ Moshe Zaretsky, ZT”L, subsequently the Rav of Karkur in Israel.

R’ Moshe, a powerfully built and tough-as-nails young man, came to Grodno at the age of 19. His parents were Jewish farmers and someone back home had told him that he would never become a Torah scholar. The young man had said, “Before you become a Torah scholar, hair will grow from your palms!” R’ Moshe was resolved to prove that assessment wrong. He asked the Steipler Gaon, R’ Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky, who the best Rosh Yeshiva was, and the Steipler replied that R’ Shimon Shkop was the greatest Rosh Yeshiva in Lithuania. And so young Moshe traveled to Grodno to learn in the yeshiva there.

But when Moshe was tested, R’ Shimon felt that the boy was not sufficiently advanced in his studies and thus not yet prepared for the shiur in Grodno. R’ Shimon therefore did not admit the earnest young student; when that decision was transmitted to Moshe, the young man wept.

But young Moshe was not going to be deterred so easily. Even if he had not been accepted in the yeshiva, no one could deny him his right as a Jew to sit in the beis medrash. He resolved not to budge from that study hall and to learn without ceasing for one year. With the iron will of a powerful young man, it seemed as if he did not budge. He learned all day and all night, every day and every night, and in exhaustion he would fall asleep on his shtender in the wee hours of the morning.

Moshe had very little to eat since in Grodno — as in the rest of the Lithuanian yeshiva world at the time —even the registered students lived in relative poverty, often missing meals and going hungry. In Grodno, the students’ breakfast consisted of a slice of bread and a hot drink of some kind, nothing more. (There was a debate among the students as to whether this piece of bread should be eaten quickly so as to minimize enjoyment or whether it should be eaten very slowly to gain control over the innate animalistic appetite of a hungry person.)

But for Moshe, who had not yet been admitted as a student and had to make due with whatever scraps he managed to find around the study hall, the fare was even more meager. He had no hot beverages but instead drank from a barrel of water situated outside the study hall. That water was meant to be used for netilas yadayim, ritual hand-washing, but Moshe used the washing cup there as his drinking cup. The other students took pity on him, and although he could expect nothing from the yeshiva kitchen, they broke off portions of their own meager rations and gave them to him. This nutritional regimen fueled 18-20-hour days of study for Moshe, who came to be known by the nickname Moshe Masmid (Moshe the Diligent). When local physicians heard about his sleep and nutritional regimen, they opined that he could not survive for very long in that fashion.

But the Ribono shel Olam had different plans, and when the righteous women of Grodno heard about Moshe and his diet, they took great pity on the young man. They began to bring pots of hot food to the study hall for Moshe. In fact, he had the distinction of being one of the few students in all of the yeshiva world at that time to eat meat nearly every day. As the Rosh Yeshiva would relate with a smile, “He ate much better than we did.”

To the end of his life, Rav Gustman accorded R’ Moshe Zaretsky a privilege accorded to no one else other than himself:   To say the weekly shiur in the Rav Gustman’s Yeshivas Netzach Yisrael.

Rav Gustman inspired his students to understand that the ultimate victory of the Jewish people was not to be deterred from achieving their potential to grow in closeness to Ribono shel Olam, via dedication to learning His Torah and by combining that dedication with attaining good traits of character (midos) and acts of kindness (gemilus chasadim). 

In the merit of his example, may we merit to see the ultimate fulfillment of the Mitzvah of Mechiyas Zecher Amalek mi’Tachas HaShamayim and the establishment of G-d’s eternal rule in a rebuilt Jerusalem.

David Page is the author of Rav Gustman: The Youngest Dayan of Vilna and Illustrious Rosh Yeshiva in New York and Yerushalyim (Artscroll 5777). He lives with his wife and children in Jerusalem.