By the time you read this letter, it will be Shabbos and the beginning of a three-day Yom Tov. Over the course of Yom Tov the men, women, and children of the school and community will all be focused on Kabbalas Hatorah, the receiving of the Torah.
My Rosh Yeshiva, Harav Avraham Chaim Levine zt”l, of Telshe Yeshiva in Chicago, shared that while we celebrate Shavuos each year to commemorate the giving of the Torah to our nation thousands of years ago on Har Sinai, there is an additional message that we should derive from this special holiday. Shavuos, said the Rosh Yeshiva, is a holiday that is renewed every year, and each and every one of us should experience our own personal Kabbalas Hatorah on it every year. Holidays like Shavuos offer us a personal renewal each year whose effect strengthens our belief in Hashem and inspires us to strengthen ourselves until the next holiday. I am so proud of the many siyumim that our students celebrate, such as the ATM and the special learning program celebrated last Sunday with the Boston and Waterbury schools in Waterbury, CT. These all represent a personal Kabbalas Hatorah for each and every one of us.
Rabbi Shlomo Kanievsky, a son of the gadol hador in Israel, Harav Chaim Kanievsky, was in Monsey, NY, this past week, and he shared a special message based on the life of Reb Chaim, may he be maarich yamim. R’ Shlomo related that Reb Chaim at age 30 was already knowledgeable in all of Torah, including Chumash, Navi, Talmud, and Midrash, and could quote any source verbatim from anything in these sefarim. He was approached by another Kollel fellow, who asked if they could learn Shas together. Reb Chaim responded that they could learn daily at a specific hour, and that the fellow would have to commit to never miss their learning session. The fellow answered that he was prepared to commit, but that every winter he usually got sick, so he would have to miss. Reb Chaim told the fellow that if he came to study every day, he would not get sick in the winter. The fellow committed to Reb Chaim, and so it was: the next winter passed without illness. One day, the fellow heard that the Satmar Rav was coming to Israel and would be seeing people, but the time conflicted with his learning session with Reb Chaim. He asked Reb Chaim if they could reschedule, and Reb Chaim answered negatively, saying that a set time for learning, as well as the commitment to never miss the session, overrode any consideration of going to see the Rebbe. The fellow unfortunately succumbed to his temptation and went to see the Satmar Rav anyway, arriving only a little late for his daily study session with Reb Cham. The next morning, the fellow’s usual winter illness struck, and he was out for a week. Reb Chaim explained that this man’s set time for learning every day without interruption was what had protected him from becoming ill, and he was not surprised that the fellow took ill after missing a part of his learning.
The Telzer Rosh Yeshiva in Cleveland, Harav Chaim Stein zt”l, to whom I had the benefit of being very close, implored his students in his last will and testament to make sure that they should commit to studying one hour per day, regardless of the day’s challenges, including business trips.
As we celebrate Kabbalas Hatorah we are hopeful that this holiday will be one of personal inspiration. While it may be impossible to commit to some of the lofty goals set forth by these great rabbis, we can all learn about the value of committing to a Torah study goal, even if it is just for a short time every day. This kvius halimud, set time for study, will enhance both our physical and our spiritual life, and is a message to our children and family of the importance that Torah must have in our daily lives. I thank all the rabbeim and moros at PHDS/NEAT, who are all role models for this concept and inspire us and our children on a daily basis.
I also congratulate Mrs. Weiner and the staff for preparing an amazing Academic Fair. The school’s commitment to an excellent secular program will prepare our children with the academic and life skills needed to succeed in a globally competitive society.
Best wishes to the PHDS family for an enjoyable and uplifting Yom Tov.
Rabbi Peretz Scheinerman, Dean