• Transcriptions

    Rabbi Yaakov Eisemann


    Getting a Bracha

    Rabbi Beane: When did you first come in relationship with the Rosh Yeshiva zt”l?

    Rabbi Eisemann: When I was called up to the army from ‘44

    Rabbi Beane: In America?

    Rabbi Eisemann: In America. Reb Aharon was here for one year, and I went to three people, including him, to be mispallel for me the day I had to go to the army examination.

    Rabbi Beane: How did you know that you were supposed to go to Reb Aharon?

    Rabbi Eisemann: Everybody knew. My brother was already by him before. But R’ Aharon, aleh huben gevust[1]. I went to Reb Shlomo Heiman, too, and to a Chassidishe rebbe. I wanted all of them to be mispallel for me that day.

    Rabbi Beane: Were you learning in the yeshiva?

    Rabbi Eisemann: At that time, I was out of the yeshiva. I’d finished at Torah V’Daas, so I was between yeshivas.

    I’ll tell you the story. I went up to Reb Aharon’s apartment on West 95th, and when I walked in and saw him with his fiery eyes, with his burning eyes, I almost couldn’t open my mouth. I was overcome by him, by his personality, and this never happened to me before. By nature, I’m not such a baishon.

    So I said, “I have to go to the army examination today.”

    He said, “Zai mekabel Ol Torah! Kol hamekabel alav ol Torah maavirin mimenu ol malchus v’ol derech eretz [2]

    So I asked him, “Should I do it b’lashon arei[3]?”
    He said, “If you’re not strong enough. Don’t do it b’lashon arei.”

    And it really came out that a year or two later, Reb Aharon took me into the yeshiva, not even by applying. Things shaped up in such a way that I was part of the yeshiva.


    A Balabus

    I have another story. This happened around ’46 or ’47. There was a small olam in Lakewood then. We were about forty people, not more. Once, just when we ended Shalosh Seudos, a man walked into the room. He had a hat on, not a rabbonishe hat, but a balabatishe hat. And he was looking around.

    I was always interested in businesspeople. He looked like a businessman, so I walked over and asked his name.

    He told me, “I’m Mr. Tisch. I’m here in Lakewood to buy the Laurel and the Pines.”

    At that time, it was the biggest hotel in Lakewood with a 600-room facility.

    “I bought it for my sons,” he said.

    Today his sons are leaders of the Jewish community in New York. Bob and Lawrence Tisch. Everybody knows about them. This hotel was their first venture.

    Then, pointing to Reb Aharon, he asked, “Who is this man?”

    “He is the dean of the yeshiva,” I said.

    I remember his words to this day. He said, “If I was in the room with one thousand people, I would still point out this man and say, ‘There is a man with a quality.’”

    So I thought to myself, “You must be a genius. You’re a genius in business, and Reb Aharon is a genius of all Rosh Yeshivas. One genius is a maven of the other.”


    What Kashas Can We Ask?

    My brother was the only one who would talk with the Rosh Yeshiva during the Shabbos meals, be mispalsef with him. At one time, he said over a kasha he once heard. He didn’t want to say from whom because he figured the Rosh Yeshiva would make nothing from it.

    On the spot, the Rosh Yeshiva said, “This kasha you never heard. It’s no kasha altogether. If you heard anything, you heard this.” And he said it over differently.

    My brother said, “Yes. Yes.”

    “But this is also no kasha!” And he explained why. “If you ask, you should ask like this.”

    And at that moment, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I saw that not only did Reb Aharon know the Gemara in and out with pilpulim, but he knew what yeneh hut gefregt, vos mir kent fregen, vos mir ken nisht fregen, un vos mir hub nisht gefregt! Yeneh hut aza zach enganzen nisht gefregt, oib fregen, darf er fregen dus, un dus iz oich nisht kein kasha[4]! He knew the Gemara so deeply that anything that could possibly be said on the subject, he would know.

    Rabbi Beane: He was always ten steps ahead.

    Rabbi Eisemann: That’s right. Azoi darft ir zugen takeh[5].


    The Incomparable Iluy

    After the petirah, my brother wrote an article in “The Jewish Voice” of the Agudah. He said that the Gemara in Sanhedrin says that one could only sit in the Sanhedrin if he knew 49 ways l’taher and 49 ways l’tameh[6], and then would make the conclusion. This was Reb Aharon. He knew all the tzdodim, all the ways: the negative and the opposite  - the positive in the Gemara.

    R’ Chaim Brisker said on him that he hadn’t seen an iluy like him for a long time, and he said that was when Reb Aharon was 14 or 15 years old. And Reb Meir Simcha said of him, “I haven’t seen an iluy like this in 40 years.”

    In his hesped at the airport, Rav Silver said, “I once went to Reb Meir Simcha in Dvinsk and I asked him a kasha on the Rosh. He gave me a teretz. Then I went into the Rogachover, and he gave me another teretz. And when I met Reb Aharon, I asked him the kasha. On the spot, he told me both terutzim, the one from Reb Meir Simcha and the Rogachover. And I shouted out, ‘Ir zent takkeh a iluy sheb’iluy![7]’”

    Rabbi Beane: Everything you’ve said shtims with what I’ve heard. Each maaseh supports the other one.


    Avos HaOlam

    I just want to make one general point which I think describes the whole personality of this great man. During my lifetime - and I’m not a young man - I’ve met many great people who were from all backgrounds, both in Europe and here in America. I met great talmidei chachamim, great men, but I wasn’t drawn to any one of them the way I was drawn to Reb Aharon.

    In personal life, I had my ins and outs with him lehavdil bein chaim l’chaim[8], but there was not an ounce of boredom being with the man, looking him, watching his movements, his speech. Everything about him was dynamic. Even though he was not what you call “a speaker” per se, whatever he said was measured. It had a meaning. And it left an impression.

    Today we live in a different world. I wrote an article about this during the past week. We are left in generation with einiklach of all sorts. Reb Meir Premishlaner says on the Rashi in Va’era, “Va’era l’Avrohom, l’Yitzchok, l’Yaakov.” Rashi comments one word, “Va’era el ha’avos.[9]

    And the world asks, “What does Rashi add here to Avrohom, Yitzchok, v’Yaakov[10]?”

    Reb Meir Premishlaner says, “They were Avos, and not einiklach who took over the yerusha stam azoi.[11]

    We have big talmidei chachamim today. I would never deny it. But Avos we don’t have. And Reb Aharon was in the category of Avos, from Avos HaOlam. He was unique. He was original. You cannot compare him to anybody else. And with this I want to conclude my comments because I’m not worthy to speak more about this great man.

    [1] Everyone knew of him.

    [2] Take upon yourself the yoke of Torah! Anyone who takes upon himself the yoke of Torah, the yoke of monarchy and all else is removed from him.

    [3] In the temporary state?

    [4] What one asked, what one may ask, what may not be asked, and what was not asked! This questions was never asked by anyone, and if he did ask, he must ask like this, and this is also not a question!

    [5] Indeed, it is as you say.

    [6] 49 ways to purify and 49 ways to cause impurity

    [7] You are indeed a genius of a genius!

    [8] In distinction between one living soul and the next

    [9] In Va’era (“and I have shown”), the portion in Exodus, its says “And I have shown to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob”. Rashi comments by adding one word, “And I have shown unto the fathers”.

    [10] What does Rashi add here to Abraham, Isaac and to Jacob?

    [11] They were forefathers, not grandchildren, who took over the heritage. They did not take it over “just like that”.



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