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Memorable Moments from the Agudah Convention

“There is no one person called Agudah. Agudah is a group of individuals who take responsibility. That individual is the one sitting in your seat”

Photos: Agudath Israel, Moshe Gershbaum, Moshe Bitton

The theme of the 2022 Agudah Convention held over the weekend of parshas Vayeitzei was “Speak Up.” The convention brought together thousands of Yidden who came to hear from and share with rabbanim and leaders. Here is a small sampling

Yaakov is referred to as a yoshev ohalim — one who constantly sat in the beis medrash. Asks the Maharsha, how can we say that? Yaakov Avinu spent decades as a shepherd for Lavan, far from the hallowed atmosphere of the beis medrash! The answer is that, true, sometimes we have to leave the actual walls of the beis medrash, but that doesn’t necessarily mean leaving the environment of the beis medrash. We have the ability to take those same walls and turn them into an ohel — a tent, which can travel with us, keeping the beis medrash alive wherever we go.

—Rav Malkiel Kotler, Rosh Yeshivah at Beth Medrash Govoha

There is no one person called Agudah. Agudah is a group of individuals who take responsibility.

That individual is the one sitting in your seat.

—Rav Meyer Yedid, Rabbi of Brooklyn's Congregation Shaare Zion and Rosh Yeshivah of YDE

We are taught that when the mazalos travel in Shamayim, each one looks behind at the face of the mazel beneath it rather than at the tail of the mazel before it. That’s what Agudas Yisrael is all about. Agudas Yisrael allows all the different factions of Klal Yisrael to come together in an ofen where each one respects the others.

—Rav Yehuda Svei, Rosh Yeshivah of Philadelphia Yeshivah

We say in davening “Atah hivdalta enosh meirosh — you separated man from the beginning, vatakireihu la’amod lifanecha — and You recognized him to stand before You.”

Said the Komarno Rebbe, I interpret this differently.”

“Atah hivdalta enosh meirosh,” You separated man from his rosh, from his own mind. You allow him to rise above the skepticism dictated by calculated logic. “Vatakireihu la’amod lifanecha,” and with his power unbound by nature’s limitations, he can serve You to his fullest, accomplishing feats otherwise deemed impossible.

Morai v’rabboisai, this the secret of our survival, this is the key of our existence and this is the ultimate building block of Klal Yisrael. If our gedolei Yisrael had only acted when seichel predicted that they would be successful, we wouldn’t be here tonight. [We’re only here] as a result of understanding throughout galus that we need to embark on initiatives, to do, even though it doesn’t seem to add up.

—Rav Yoir Adler,  Rav of Beis Medrash Shoavei Mayim of Toronto

The sound of the shofar at Matan Torah is described as holeich v’chazeik meod — as  it rang out, it constantly grew stronger. Says the Kli Yakar, this represents the mesorah of Torah — it constantly grows stronger. There are so many thousands of bnei yeshivah today because we are the dor acharon. The shofar blow of Matan Torah is stronger now than ever.

—Rav Yerucham Olshin, Rosh Yeshivah of Beth Medrash Govoha

Orthodox Jews don’t believe in ‘parental involvement.’ We believe that parents are the sole proprietors and (the) ones responsible over their child’s education. Teachers and schools are the agents of the parents.

—Rabbi Abba Cohen, VP of Government Affairs and Director of Agudah’s Washington office

The Boyaner Rebbe once said at a tish, “Rabbosai, we will be here biz eintz — until one. Everyone looked at their watches and realized that they had a while to go until one o’clock. But the Rebbe explained that he wasn’t referring to time. “Biz eintz” means until all our hearts are one. All of us together demonstrate what Agudah is all about. An Agudah Achas, compromised of litvish, chassidish, Sephardim, young, and old.

—Yaakov Klugmann, Cochairman of the convention

Yitzchak Avinu re-dug the wells that Avraham dug and called them by the names that Avraham called them. Rabbeinu Bechaye questions this. Why, in fact, did Yitzchak not give the wells new names? Rabbeinu Bechaye answers, “shelo yishane adam miderech avosav, v’yinhag k’minhag avosav — a person should not veer from the path of his fathers but must continue the mesorah of his ancestors.” I am here tonight because my father imbued in me the importance of belonging to Agudas Yisroel at a very young age.

—Dov Fishoff, Cochairman of the convention

You are not the customer, you are the product. They are selling your brain to marketing agencies. They’re harvesting your brain. They’re not spending hundreds or thousands or millions or billions of dollars on this. They’re spending trillions of dollars on this, harvesting your brain to create as much pull and to hold you on as much as they can.

—Rabbi Joey Haber, speaking on the realities of technology

Rabbosai, let’s acknowledge the obvious. Pnei America eino einenu k’smol shilshom — the face of America “hasn’t been with us for three days.” Things are different, it’s not what it used to be.… Everything we had known and thought we understood about this country has come crashing down…. Firstly, there’s a spike in anti-Semitism, and that’s the wrong word. It’s an explosion of anti-Semitism.

—Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 939)

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