"I'm unable to sign my name to a paper that says that the yeshivah is not your total and complete home"
To be sure, there was a backdrop of pain and empathy in the letter from Mirrer Rosh Yeshivah Rav Leizer Yudel Finkel, written on familiar yeshivah stationary in the recognizable font, hanging across the yeshivah’s many buildings.
But there was also warmth and love.
Addressing himself to the talmidim from chutz la’aretz, the Rosh Yeshivah urged them not to go home for Pesach, given the uncertainty surrounding their ability to return. The letter speaks of the great mission of ensuring that the sound of Torah never wanes and the special protection afforded to Eretz Yisrael — and then turns to details:
“And of course, the yeshivah will provide for you, both spiritually and physically — as Maran, the Sar HaTorah has said, the yeshivah is our source of life. Still, bochurim should ask their parents’ permission before deciding to stay…”
While this particular request might be unprecedented in the yeshivah’s history, the underlying approach — that the yeshivah is very much home — is not.
A veteran member of the hanhalah recalls that many years ago, a few bochurim intending to head home for Shabbos Chanukah approached Rav Leizer Yudel’s father, previous Rosh Yeshivah Rav Nosson Tzvi, and asked for a favor: They needed him to sign a paper “expelling” them from the dormitory and sending them home. Their motives were pure, in order to fulfill a halachic stringency involving hadlakas neiros in their parents’ homes, which necessitated that they have no other formal accommodations, and this letter would confirm that.
Rav Nosson Tzvi gently told them that though he respected their zeal and sincerity, he could not accommodate them. “I'm so sorry, but I'm unable to sign my name to a paper that says that the yeshivah is not your total and complete home."
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 850)
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