Rabbi Yosef Kaufman
Rabbi Kaufman: When I come to speak about the heilige Rosh Yeshiva, the rebbe zecher tzaddik v’kadosh levracha, I just have to say one thing: that when you came to speak to the Rosh Yeshiva zt”l, you were overwhelmed by the gadlus, the kedushah. You were overwhelmed, taken aback by the whole matzav. You stood there with the grester, you stood there . . . with a fear, with an eima. B’eima you stood there. You couldn’t just say what you wanted. You stood there with the greatest of yiras ha kavod, and that yiras hakavod, being next to him, speaking and having a shaichos to him was to the greatest extent. And the Rosh Yeshiva zt”l was so devoted to every single bochur. (Some unclear words at 1:25. Then mike drops.)
In the Presence of a Gadol
I came to Lakewood through a cousin of mine. He told me I should go to Lakewood and learn by the Rosh Yeshiva, zecher tzaddik l’vracha, and I did. The Rosh Yeshiva z”l was very mekarev me.
This was in 1953 or 1954, I believe, the Elul zman. We were learning Nedarim. The Rosh Yeshiva zt”l loved every single bochur and was mekarev every single bochur. We all felt toward the Rosh Yeshiva like what we felt toward our father. And with all that, there was no contradiction to the gevaldigge yiras hakavod we had for the Rosh Yeshiva zt”l.
The Rosh Yeshiva zt”l gave schmoozen and shiurim, but what you learned from being close and seeing the Rosh Yeshiva, you learned unimaginable things. You got different hasagos and widened different hasagos in Torah and the sheifah in striving to learn. The gadlus became altogether different.
I want to say a small vort in relation to this. Tosfos in Kesuvos Daf Samech, says that when you go learn in Beis Medrash, it’s not nolad that you become a talmid chacham. So I heard over b’shem Moreinu HaRav Rav Mordechai Gifter the Telsher Rosh Yeshiva, and my Rebbe in Telz, that he said, “ Why is it that you find that when you come to a Beis Medrash, not everybody who comes into the Beis Medrash becomes a gadol? The Tosfos says when you learn in Beis Medrash you become a gadol? He says, “It depends the way you go into the Beis Medrash, and what you strive for.”
There was a maaseh once. A young bochur came to Lakewood. He wasn’t in yeshiva. He was a child. He walked straight over to the Rosh Yeshiva zt”l and he said, “Rebbe, how do you become, ve vert men a gadol?”
The Rosh Yeshiva zt”l was very misragesh, he got up and said. “With hasmada.”
And I can’t say the impression it was, the eima, the pachad that you had. The ahava. All this was the everlasting impression we had of the Rosh Yeshiva zt”l, and the love we had for the Rosh Yeshiva zt”l, moirah d’avdin. Also, the love and the respect and the eima we had for him,the Rosh Yeshiva zt”l and the moirah d’avdin we had for R’ Shneur, zecher tzaddik l’vracha. When we saw the Rosh Yeshiva zt”l, we saw Torah.
I can’t forget the impression it left on me when I once saw the Rosh Yeshiva zt”l on the way to tashlich. Before he went to tashlich one year, the eimas hadin, everything you saw was like, I couldn’t say it. That was the biggest schmooze in itself. It’s not shayach. You saw everything.
He was moser nefesh for every single bochur. A chaver of mine, Reb Eli Roman, was a bachur, a yasom. And he asked the Rosh Yeshiva zt”l, he had a job, he was a counselor in a day camp - can he stay over [at Yeshiva] for the summer. The Rosh Yeshiva zt”l said, “Yes...b’tnai that you’ll learn the first seder and third seder in yeshiva. Then you can sleep and eat in yeshiva.”
In the middle of the summer, the Rosh Yeshiva zt”l came back, and he went to the kitchen and checked the frigidaire to see if there was enough food for those few bochurim that were still staying there. If the Rosh Yeshiva would have said even a half a word, there would have been maybe 15 people that would have given him an exact figure of everything. No. By the Rosh Yeshiva zt”l, every bochur was a king.
Talmidim like Sons
I want to end off with one vort. I heard this from my uncle, Moreinu HaRav Chaim Pinchas Sheinberg shlita. He once said that the posuk says, “V’shinantam l’vonecha” and the Gemara says, “l’vonecha eilu ha talmidim.” He said, first, the ikur in a rebbe is that the talmidim have to be “bonecha.” If talmidim are yeladei, talmidim like your own children, then you can learn with them. “V’shinantam l’vonecha” the posuk says. You learn with your children. And that’s the main thing. And that you saw by the heilige Rosh Yeshiva zecher tzaddik v’kodesh l’vracha, how he loved each and every bochur b’leiv uvenefesh, and not only from his yeshiva, but for every ben Torah. He had mesirus nefesh for every single Yid.
Kindness to Every Yid
And I just want to close with this maaseh, which is a moradigge maaseh, which should go down in history so people will know about it. There was a Chassidishe yid that had no shaichos to the Rosh Yeshiva zt”l. (This man told this maaseh to HaRav, Rav Yosef Blum.) This chassid had a big problem once and he asked around if he could come and speak it over with the Rosh Yeshiva zt”l.
They told him, “Yes, you can make an appointment to speak it over.” They told him that the Rosh Yeshiva would spend two days a week in New York, and he should call up and make an appointment.
He called up, and the Alta Rebbetzin zichron l’vracha told him to call back at 6:00. He called back at 6:00. The Rebbetzin zichrona l’vracha picked up the phone and said, “The Rosh Yeshiva’s not here. Call back at 9:00.”
He said, “At 9:00? So late? I should bother the Rosh Yeshiva at 9:00?”
She said, “Yes, if you have a problem and you want to speak it over with the Rosh Yeshiva.” She gave him the encouragement and was mechazek him and said, “Call back at 9:00.”
So he called back at 9:00 and the Rebbetzin zichrona l’vracha picked up the phone again. The Rosh Yeshiva zt”l was still not back, so she told him to call back at 11:00.
He said, “11:00? How can I bother the Rosh Yeshiva at 11:00? After a hard day?” People knew how hard he worked in the office the days that he was there.
But the Rebbetzin zichrona l’vracha encouraged him to call back at 11:00. Again, seemingly he had a problem. “Call back at 11:00."
At 11:00, the Rosh Yeshiva picked up the phone. The man asked the Rosh Yeshiva, “When can I come?”
He told him, “Now.”
“Yetzt? Is this the time the Rosh Yeshiva meant?”
So he said, I’ll tell you this in Yiddish, “Meine lieber friend, Oib du rufst mir, hut ir doch a problem. Morgen dach if furen tzurig in Yeshiva. Vet ir darfen varten iber a voch. Kumt yetzt.”
I’ll translate it. The Rosh Yeshiva zt”l told him, “My dear friend, if you call me, you have a problem. Tomorrow, I have to go back to yeshiva. You’ll have to wait until next week. Come now.”
The Rosh Yeshiva was a zaken and it was after a hard day’s work which knocked out all the young people in the office And he told me to come at 11:00!! And this was a Yid whom he had no shaichos to, whom he never saw or heard of, and that was his mesirus nefesh for every single Yid.
And y’hi zichro baruch There is nothing but the hashpo’ah and the impression. It’s not shayach. We speak about . . . we speak about . . . we speak about gadlus, Gedolei Torah and gadlus of Torah. It’s not shayach. The impression is unimaginable. Go say the impression of . . . the impression of Torah. Yehi zichro baruch zechuso yogain aleinu, v’al kol yisrael amein.
 Fear and trepidation
 Tractate, Page 60
 In the name of my teacher, Rabbi Mordechia Gifter, Dean of the Telz Teshiva
 How does one become a leader of Jewry?
 Emotionally moved
 Awesome fear and respect in serving him
 And you shall instruct your sons
 Your sons – these are your pupils
 Your sons
 If students are like children
 With his heart and soul
 If you call me, you have a problem.
 Tomorrow, I have to go back to yeshiva. You’ll have to wait until next week. Come now.
 May his memory be blessed
 May his memory be blessed, may his memory protect us all, and all Jewry, Amen.