It wasn’t the lecture the boys had been expecting, but they got the point
Rabbi Dovid Lau, Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel, could have chosen to make his position one of aristocratic bureaucracy, devoting all his time to meetings with dignitaries and world leaders. But in an encounter with a group of elementary school yeshivah students, he taught them that while his position may offer power and prestige, nothing compares to the privilege of sitting in the beis medrash.
While visiting New York last week, Rabbi Lau spent a day in the Five Towns, where he was invited to speak to the talmidim of the Yeshiva of South Shore (YOSS). The chief rabbi’s relationship with YOSS dates back a generation — his father, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau shlita, was close friends with the yeshivah’s founder, Rabbi Binyamin Kamenetzky z”l.
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky, who leads the yeshivah today, escorted Rabbi Lau into the building to joyous music and dancing, and the boys gathered in the beis medrash, excited to hear words of chizuk and inspiration. They got a whole lot more than that. Rather than deliver a fiery derashah, the chief rabbi shot out a question based on the Gemara the boys were learning. Soon a spirited back-and-forth in the sugya ensued, between the chief rabbi of Israel and a group of young American students.
It wasn’t the lecture the boys had been expecting, but they got the point. With the impromptu learning session, the chief rabbi delivered his message more eloquently than any derashah could have.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 935)
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