Today, we’ll do something a bit different, because the Rosh Yeshiva of Mountaindale, Rabbi Rothenberg, needs your prayers for a recovery. I am going to introduce you to this man through a letter one of his students wrote when the student was honored at a dinner. I think it speaks for itself:
A few years back, when I was just a teenager, I thought all I needed to know about Judaism had been covered in my learning years and that the time had come for me to head to work. At that time, I happened upon a strange sight: a bearded rabbi who was playing basketball way beyond any amateur skill. Seems like all his shots managed to make the basket. I stopped to schmooze and play a pickup game with him. And that was when I realized that as amazing as Rabbi Rothenberg’s basketball skills are, more amazing is his skill in making sure that all his actions are aimed at serving Hashem. With precision, with concentration, and with skill, he managed to “sink the ball” each time he did a Mitzva.
I was not walking away from a teacher like that. I requested admittance to the Yeshiva in Mountaindale. The Roshei Yeshiva made my acceptance contingent upon two clauses, not easy ones. Some time later, after I had been in the Yeshiva for a while, I asked my rebbe why he chose those two things for me to have to do. His reply astounded me – he told me anything that I would show I was willing to control in my life would indicate I was capable of learning to control all my actions and becoming a pro at serving Hashem. In other words, just as in sports you want to see capability and flexibility in muscle, my rebbeim were showing me in spirituality you have to work out your spiritual muscles and prove them supple and flexible.
The months I spent learning in Mountaindale will stay with me forever. It gave me a basis for building a home that is focused on trying to hit the aim in Avdus Hashem [service of G-d] with each action. It gave me rabbonim who continue to serve as Yoatzim [advisors] to me, always available to answer my questions and to continue to provide me guidance.
At this time, I am humbled to be called upon to accept an honor. I accept, not because I feel I deserve this honor, but because I think it might be an opportunity for me to share this amazing jewel of a Yeshiva with my friends and relatives and urge them to help support such a wonderful place. It is my opportunity to show gratitude to the place that set me on the proper path. The honor is not mine, it is the Yeshiva’s, and I would be most grateful for all support that helps the Yeshiva continue to teach people how to “aim their shots” at Kedusha.
So there you have it, folks, the words of the student. Please pray for the health of Yerachmiel Shlomo ben Raizel.
And now a brief history on the Mountaindale Yeshiva “Yeshiva Zichron Mayir”. Many years ago, an idealistic Maggid Shiur in the Mir, Rabbi Yehuda Davis ZT”L, was approached by public school students who wanted to learn Torah. Rabbi Davis quit his job and focused on his new students! He could have been a “somebody” in Mir – but he was too busy focused on doing what needed to be done, not opting for the position that would give him fame. He then went on to found a Yeshiva away from the hubbub, where materialism didn’t matter…for it didn’t exist.
Across the spectrum of leaders, Roshei Yeshivas and Deans in both Ashkenzi and Sefardic Yeshivos are the students of Rabbi Davis. He never got his name emblazoned in books and magazine articles. He wasn’t invited to be “keynote speaker” at any of the fancy Kinnus gatherings. He was too busy teaching. Fascinating, that the less known Gadol was the true Gadol who shaped and formed and taught, shaped and molded those who became beacons and educators. Or maybe that is the secret, my friend. It is not those who are noticed who are crucial to bringing our generation close to G-d, it is those who really mean G-d.
To read about this amazing Tzaddik, you can go here: http://personal.stevens.edu/~llevine/rav_yehudah_davis_v12.pdf