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Letter Perfect

If Yanky had been accepted into his yeshivah, there had to be a special reason


When Saralah Goldstein* called me with the good news that her son had been accepted to mesivta, I was ecstatic and in disbelief.

Her husband had passed away several years ago, leaving her to raise her two boys by herself.

Although her oldest son, Yanky,* was a fine young man, he was not at the top of the class.

The top-tier mesivta he had applied to was known for receiving many more applicants than it could accommodate. I couldn’t see how Yanky would make the cut. Nevertheless, Yanky was determined, and his mother was his biggest supporter.

Although I encouraged her to consider other options, she filled out the mesivta application.

Not surprisingly, it was rejected.

Mrs. Goldstein asked me, her son’s menahel, and anyone else she felt could helpful to appeal to the mesivta on her son’s behalf.

The rosh yeshivah responded promptly to Mrs. Goldstein in writing. He patiently explained that the yeshivah had a limited number of spots available. Although he assured her that her son was a fine ben Torah, based on Yanky’s school records, he could not accept him into the incoming ninth grade.

Mrs. Goldstein informed me that she replied to the rosh yeshivah with her own letter.

I was sure this was Mrs. Goldstein’s last desperate attempt to convince the rosh yeshivah to accept Yanky. I was also sure it would not change the rosh yeshivah’s mind.

Therefore, I was surprised to hear from Mrs. Goldstein that amazingly, Yanky had been accepted into the incoming ninth-grade shiur.

I asked Mrs. Goldstein, “Are you sure you heard correctly?”

Saralah Goldstein replied, “Rabbi, there is nothing to hear. I have the letter!”

She then proceeded to read the letter, which indeed stated that Yanky would be joining the incoming ninth grade.

I was stunned.

What changed the equation for Mrs. Goldstein? Had she found someone with protektzia to whom the rosh yeshivah could not say no? Perhaps it had to do with Yanky being a yasom?

I’ve known the rosh yeshivah for many years as a man of unassailable integrity, yashrus, and honesty. I knew he could not be bought.

And I knew if Yanky had been accepted into his yeshivah, there had to be a special reason, and that reason would no doubt be something valuable to know.

I called the rosh yeshivah and asked him, “Reb Mordechai,* I just heard you accepted Yanky Goldstein into your incoming ninth grade. However, at first, you rejected him. Can you please tell me what changed?”

I thought he would be hesitant to disclose the reason for his decision out of humility. However, to my surprise, he was very forthcoming about it.

“I accepted Yanky because of his mother’s letter,” he said.

“I assume you are referring to her letter in which she pleaded with you to accept Yanky?”

What the rosh yeshivah said next left me speechless.

“No, her letter contained not one word of pleading to reverse the rejection.”

“What do you mean?” I asked. “Then what did the letter say?”

“She wrote, ‘I accept your daas Torah without question. And although I am disappointed by the decision, I thank you for taking the time to write to me and explain the situation. I know how valuable the rosh yeshivah’s time is.’

“I have been here for over thirty years and have had to reject hundreds of boys. Each rejection causes me pain, and I do it with a heavy heart. However, in all my years, Mrs. Goldstein was the only person to thank me for my time and completely accept my decision.

“Such a boy, raised in a home where hakaras hatov is so valued and fidelity to daas Torah is so heartfelt, I must have in my yeshivah.”


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 969)

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