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Sivan: Accepting His Role 

Once Rav Elyashiv gave his psak, Rav Uri accepted it wholeheartedly


hen Uri Zohar ztz"l, star of the Israeli entertainment world, disappeared from stage and screen in the mid 1970s and embraced Yiddishkeit, he caused quite the sensation. But he then fell off the public’s radar, as he spent 15 years secluded in the beis medrash.

When Lev L’Achim was formed in the early 1990s, Rav Shach decided that Rav Uri was ready to be the Torah world’s ambassador to the public. But Rav Uri, immersed in learning, wasn’t eager to take on this new role.

Rav Uri went to Rav Yosef Sholom Elyashiv to make his case. He told the gadol hador about his concerns that his ruchniyus would be compromised, and presented a note from his wife protesting the idea that her husband return to public life. But Rav Elyashiv paskened that he was obligated to accept this new task.

“I will miss my daily vasikin minyan and my chavrusos,” Rav Uri said.

“This is your mission,” Rav Elyashiv answered him. “Vasikin? You can miss davening entire tefillos to accomplish what is incumbent upon you! Your destiny is to inspire the Jewish nation and this takes precedence over all else.”

Once Rav Elyashiv gave his psak, Rav Uri accepted it wholeheartedly.

Not that acceptance came easy. I remember Rav Uri telling me that “the hardest mitzvah for me was emunas chachamim. To suppress my own thoughts and feelings even when my life experience qualified my opinion was almost impossible for me. But once I saw that those with daas Torah can see what others cannot, I embraced the concept with all my heart and soul.”


av Uri soon became the driving force behind Lev L’Achim. I remember our very first rally, held in Be’er Sheva. Over 1,500 people crammed into the auditorium, and Rav Uri spoke passionately for 90 minutes. We all came home on a high. But the next morning, Rav Uri called us together and asked, “What was the point of all the time I wasted yesterday? I invested seven hours in this trip. What did it accomplish?”

We were shocked. It had been such an electrifying evening. Surely the inspiration would last for a long time. Rav Uri waved away our claim. “Maybe a week or two,” he said. “These people went right back home to the emptiness of their lives — to watch TV and space out. If you want me to spend my time on this, there needs to be a follow-up plan.” And right there on his table he sketched out the text of the first version of the famous Lev L’Achim questionnaires that have become integral to our operations.

Rav Uri never let us become complacent. He pointed out that the Arabs clap and cheer whenever a missile is launched. We, he would declare, don’t clap till our missile hits its mark.

Chazal taught us that tzaddikim are even greater in death than they were during their lifetime. Rav Uri is sorely missed, but we continue his work, fueled by his conviction to never stop aiming for more; more ideas, more venues, more Yiddishkeit.


Rav Avraham Zaivald, is director of Lev L’Achim in Israel


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 929)

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