| Magazine Feature |

Tour de Force

When crisis hit Eretz Yisrael’s yeshivos, five of our nation’s greatest leaders took to the skies. A sampling of the words that inspired a nation

Photos: Yossi Goldberger

When crisis hit Eretz Yisrael’s yeshivos, five of our nation’s greatest leaders took to the skies, crossing the globe to ensure the sweet song of Torah would still echo throughout batei medrash across the country. And on the other side of the world, they were greeted with passion and fervor by a public as eager to hear words of chizuk as they were to support their cause.

“Fill the void. If we don’t get this, there won’t be Torah in Eretz Yisrael or in Am Yisrael. It will be terrible for all of the sectors of Yiddishkeit. I hear the donors and thank them for their large donations, they’re filling the void, replacing what the government took from us. The same way you love lomdei Torah, the government hates lomdei Torah. Hashem should help all of those who gave, acheinu beis Yisrael, helped us save Toras Am Yisrael.”

—Rav Dov Landau

“The Chofetz Chaim says that there are times when gaivah will destroy a good thing a person wanted to do. But sometimes it’s the opposite. A person has a feeling he wants to do something big, and suddenly the yetzer hara will come and remind him of machshavos from his past. Who am I? What am I? I’m not a big person at all. I did this and that. I’m not a big tzaddik. It will cause an inferiority complex and make him think, Who am I to do this great thing? This is what happened to the Meraglim. Suddenly, they felt, Moshe Rabbeinu could do it, but we can’t do it, we’re not on the madreigah to do that type of thing. The Chofetz Chaim explains that this is one of the ways the yetzer hara gives a person an inferiority complex, and an inability to act. This relates to us today: After the initial hargashah of I want to help, I’m ready to do something big, you might start thinking, Listen, I’m not so rich. I don’t have that much money. There are billionaires around, I’m not one of them, I’m not even a millionaire. I can’t give so much. The limud is that everybody, according to his madreigah, should have the hargashah, I’m going to go above and beyond what I generally give, above and beyond, and not be afraid.”

 —Rav Moshe Hillel Hirsch

“HaKadosh Baruch Hu is asking us, ‘Bni, my son, tenah libcha Li, give your heart to Me.’ The time will come when we will need to give our heart to the Ribbono shel Olam. To sacrifice money for kavod Shamayim — that is considered giving a part of life. Reb Yid, where is your heart? Where is the b’chol me’odecha? To sacrifice desires is a madreigah. The way of a person is to give his life for his sustenance, his parnassah, his money. There are two ways of mesirus nefesh. Mesiras hachayim, giving up his life, because ‘b’nafsho yavi lachmo,’ and after ‘b’chol nafshecha’ it says, ‘b’chol me’odecha.’ Klal Yisrael has endured difficult times of mesirus nefesh in the sense of giving up life. Now the time has come for ‘b’chol me’odecha.’ And that is even a higher level!

“There are very talented people here, businessmen who understand. They know: What is the way to be a true gvir? The way is to make sure the money goes toward kavod Shamayim, to the holy Torah. ‘Ani Hashem ne’eman l’shalem sechar.’ HaKadosh Baruch Hu does not remain a debtor. Anyone who will make an effort towards this — will be whole and healthy, as will all those with him.”

 —Rav Don Segal

“HaKadosh Baruch Hu never brings upon a person or klal a nisayon he cannot withstand, because Hashem built the world on freedom of choice. If you are in a situation in which you feel you can’t use your freedom of choice because there’s no hope — that can’t happen. If Hashem put us in this situation, it means we have free choice. How does it work? When Hashem makes a gezeirah, even when it seems logically that it’s beyond our capabilities, Hashem is going to cover us and give us the capability to do what we need to do. All we need is the mesirus nefesh to go ahead, and Hashem will foot the bill.”

—Rav Yaakov Hillel

Maybe HaKadosh Baruch Hu wants to be mezakeh us, to give us a chelek in saving Klal Yisrael. And that could not have been done without these gedolim here. An opportunity of a lifetime. After 120 years, we're all going to go before the Kisei HaKavod. Hashem is going to say to us, Thank you. Thank you for helping my shlichim, the gedolei Yisrael. Thank you for saving the olam haTorah. Thank you for saving My world.

—Rabbi Dovid Ozeri

“In parshas Shelach, we learn about the Cheit Meraglim, who said negative things about Eretz Yisrael. We didn’t come here to chas v’shalom say bad things about Eretz Yisrael, and therefore we will not specify what bnei Torah are experiencing today in Eretz Yisrael, just that the situation is very difficult, and we need your help, dear Yidden of America.”

—Rav Avraham Salim

“The reason we’re here, whether you understand fully the objective or not, is because we, too, have generals, the gedolei hador who sit here on this dais, and they have issued orders that Torah is under assault, and it needs us now. Each and every one of us are in the chair that you’re sitting in for a reason, because we’re soldiers, and we’re here to heed the order and accomplish the mission.”

—Rabbi Dovid Haber

“The Kadmonim relate the lashon of the Mishnah, ‘Ein lecha adam she’ein lo sha’ah,’ to the concept of ‘yesh koneh olamo b’sha’ah achas.’ Rabbosai, all of us gathered here who the Ribbono shel Olam has sent brachah b’maaseh yadeinu — the Ribbono shel Olam has given us our sha’ah! We don’t dare not take it… yesh lecha adam shekanah olamo b’sha’ah achas. Rabbosai, it’s now! The Rambam says that perhaps a person will accomplish his life’s mission in that one sha’ah, that he’s given the opportunity to rise to the gadlus for which the Ribbono shel Olam has designated him. If the Ribbono shel Olam has sent brachah b’maaseh yadeinu, now is our sha’ah! It’s up to us to grab the opportunity that the Ribbono shel Olam has sent us to ensure the hachzakah of the olam haTorah in Eretz Yisrael.” 

—Rav Uri Deutsch

“The gedolim who grace this room with their presence are possibly doing exactly as the Chofetz Chaim did in 1930, showing us that when the Ribbono shel Olam’s kavod is at stake, their own well-being is secondary. Should we ask ourselves the same question? We all know what it’s like to face personal worries, and the lengths we go through to take care of ourselves and our families. Now, with the kavod of the Ribbono shel Olam, and the security of Am Yisrael, which depends on the protection of the olam hayeshivos, at stake, is this not the moment of truth? Are we not living history again? What is the point of the Ribbono shel Olam blessing us with shefa, if not to step up here to the plate and help these things?”

—Mr. Ralph Herzka

“Don’t think it’s because we’re so goodhearted, it’s because there’s such an olam haTorah, that’s why the Ribbono shel Olam gave us the means to support it. The gedolei Yisrael raised a generation that understands what Torah is. Yes, we’re working, but we’re bnei Torah and we feel the pain. This is our tafkid. The Ribbono shel Olam bentshed us with the ability to be machzik Torah. Baruch Hashem we see that Klal Yisrael understands the importance of Torah, and this is the greatest thing we have done with our lives.”

Mr. Reuven Wolf

We have to continue to give the yeshivos like we were giving, we can’t cut. And we have to take from that rainy day fund, or wherever we can get it, to help this cause, to be part of this tremendous achdut: chasidim, Sephardim, Ashkenazim, all of us together. Hashem loves that. Mi k’amcha Yisrael.

—Mr. Ezra Erani

“Let’s all step up. This is for our community, to be mekabel the gedolei Yisrael who are asking for help on behalf of so many yeshivahs that represent the Torah world. I’m asking you to do something that may be beyond what you thought of. I’m asking you to be part of a tremendous kiddush Hashem, and you will see tremendous brachah.”

Mr. Moishe Wolfson

“When Ezra came to me and asked me for a lot of money, it took me a couple of minutes. I understood right away the importance of it the second he started talking to me about it, and I was committed to it. But again, it was a big number. The truth is, I hesitated. I said, ‘Let me think about it.’ What was running through my mind? They need to raise $107 million. He’s asking me to give X percentage. There are so many people in the country, in the world, and I’m saying, ‘My share shouldn’t be that high. My share should be maybe one million or one percent of the amount. Everyone should give their share, and that’s the right way to do it. But then I thought about it, I realized, when I ask Hashem for blessings, and I ask Him for everything that I want, I don’t say to myself, Maybe I should only get my share. There are so many other deserving people. Maybe I shouldn’t ask for so much. Maybe I should ask for just one percent, not everything. No, I ask for everything I need. So I came to the realization after a couple of minutes that when Klal Yisrael needs something, I have to think exactly the way I do when I need something for myself.  I can’t base my decision on what other people are doing or even what people are not doing. Two minutes later, I said, ‘Ezra, I’m in.’ “

—Mr. Jimmy Khezrie


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1018)

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