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Sacred Ground

In the mussar tradition, the bochurim must treat this temporary beis medrash like their real yeshivah

The very name strikes a note of awe in the heart among those who know the history. “Chatzer Shtrois,” the Strauss Courtyard, was the first station of the mussar movement in Eretz Yisrael, the homes and beis medrash erected in the Musrara neighborhood, outside the Old City walls, by a German donor. Reb Shmuel Strauss — the father-in-law of Moreinu Yaakov Rosenheim — was a great admirer of the Alter of Kelm, and it was in the famed courtyard he donated that the mussar masters, including Reb Itzele Peterburger, Reb Naftali Amsterdam, and others sat and learned.

Now, the courtyard has come to life again. As the Ponevezher yeshivah in Bnei Brak has not yet reopened, the talmidim of shiur alef who reside in Jerusalem have made one of the newly renovated buildings in Chatzer Strauss, Yeshivas Nesivos Aharon, their temporary home. The administration of the building agreed — but on one condition.

In the mussar tradition, the bochurim must treat this temporary beis medrash like their real yeshivah — that means coming for a full three sedorim each day, and behaving in line with avodas hamussar in terms of orderliness and conduct.

It’s a different generation, with moral challenges unfathomable 130 years ago, but the cry of the mussar greats of a previous century is being heard again within the walls of their first Jerusalem home.

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 817)

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