“One person can’t say shiur and also be sho’el u’meishiv and mashgiach and vekker, it’s too much, we need to get you some help, no?”
t was the second day of the zeman, but Sholom Wasser felt like it was the hundredth. Being a rosh yeshivah was dizzying, really — like being a baal simchah, being on call, smiling, listening, busy, busy, busy. Today, in the middle of second seder, he’d come into the beis medrash and looked around, and he’d grabbed onto a nearby bench to steady himself.
This was his yeshivah. These boys, 18 bochurim sitting in front of open gemaras, were his talmidim.
And they were great.
They were also exhausted. Two of them seemed unable to wake up for Shacharis, and, working alone, he couldn’t push them out of bed and also be at the minyan. One of them, Lorb, was on a very low level in learning, and another, Tishler, was on a very high level. Both needed work. He felt like he needed five more people on staff just to deal with all the boys and what they needed.
In fact, Mr. Korman had been very clear that they should think about adding staff. He’d even offered to start speaking to people in Lakewood. “One person can’t say shiur and also be sho’el u’meishiv and mashgiach and vekker, it’s too much, we need to get you some help, no?”
Korman had said it in all seriousness, but still, Sholom Wasser was hesitant. Deep down, he knew what was holding him back: It was because he wasn’t ready to give up on any part of the experience, he wanted to do it all. He wanted to lean over Mordy Halbfinger’s sleeping body, crouched into a little ball of defiance, and say, “I know that sleep is geshmak, who wouldn’t want another few minutes… but Mordy, tei’re Mordy, life is happening, don’t let it pass you by. We need you at Pesukei D’zimra… it’s so much better if you’re there….”
When Shragi Lobenstein came, all cautious and shy, to tell the rosh yeshivah that his chavrusa, Noach Perensky, seemed to have lots to say outside the gemara and Shragi wanted to learn, Sholom Wasser wanted to be the one giving advice. “Let him tell his story, don’t show him you’re anxious or impatient — laugh like it’s funny, and then move back in to the sugya. Don’t make him feel like a guest. You can do it.”
Then he’d hesitated, because he also wanted to point out that speaking about other bochurim to the rebbi wouldn’t win Shragi any friends, even though he understood that it was coming from a genuine desire to learn.
Today, during second seder, Sholom had looked over to the chavrusashaft. Shragi Lobenstein had felt his gaze and looked up. He smiled, pure gratitude coloring his features and again, Sholom wondered how he could share this with anyone else.
Shuey Portman was the perfect partner. The meals were being taken care of. The air-conditioning was working. He seemed to be getting along with the boys. It was good.
(Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 794)
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