• Transcriptions

    Rabbi Yaakov Moshe Savitsky


    First Impressions

    The first time I saw Reb Aharon was when I was learning as a young bochur in Telshe, and he came to the yeshiva.  He said a shiur, and that shiur made an everlasting impression.  The whole mentsch made an everlasting impression.  I was determined, after hearing the shiur, to go to Lakewood to hear shiurim from Reb Aharon.  My goal was, after seeing Reb Aharon in Cleveland himself, to go to Lakewood.

    I came to Reb Aharon a little over a year before he was niftarIt was in New York, in his house in Boro Park on 47th Street.  I spoke with him in learning, Baba Basra, the sugya was aidim hamakchishin zu lazu.[1]


    A Different Baba Basra

    He accepted me to go into the yeshiva and I came to Lakewood.  They were also learning Baba Basra.  I had just learned Baba Basra in Telshe.  I was mistapek “Should I learn Baba Basra again?”

    And the Rosh Yeshiva told me, “Baba Basra mit der shiurim iz an andere Baba Basra, an andere masechta”[2].

    He arranged for me chavrusas.  In the morning, I learned with Reb Yitzchok Faivelstock, in the afternoon with Yisroel Meir Kagan.  I learned Baba Basra, and indeed it was another mesechta.  For sure, Baba Basra, the first sugyos of hezek re’iyah[3]. And there were shiurim, Tuma Bichiburim[4] etc. (necessary to add in the rest?)


    The Shiurim

    And then, into the famous shiurim in Harchakas Nezikin of Chardel[5].  Those shiurim were more towards the end of the winter.  Six shiurim, if my recollection is right.  And the Rosh Yeshiva said  fieredigge shiurim with yesodos on Harchakas Nezikin. 

    I always tried running after the Rosh Yeshiva when the shiur was completed to talk to him and ask him questions on the shiur. One of the shiurim on Chardel I came and asked the Rosh Yeshiva after the shiur, and he really maligned me.  “Ir farshteit nisht Yiddish vos mir ret mit eich[6], ir haibt nisht un tzu farshtein der mehalech in der sugya[7]”.

    Fine.  I was used to it.  We had spoken throughout the winter on the shiurim.  I tried my best to understand and I left it. 

    The minhag at that time was that Reb Aharon used to go to Florida for a few weeks before Purim.  So he went to Florida, and came back just before Purim.  Purim by nacht, a talmid, Moshe Hirsch came into the dining room and told me, “The Rosh Yeshiva wants to see you right away!”

    I thought “It’s Purim by nacht.  Vos ken dur shoin zein Purim by nacht[8]?”

    I went in.  And the first thing the Rosh Yeshiva said to me was, “Ir hut shoin aroisgeklopt de narishkeit fun eiere kup?” [9]

    I was really impressed that he held that in his kup. It was nothing significant.  A bochur fregt a kasha.  Vos iz[10]?  But everything, everything revolved around the shiurim.  Everybody’s input in the shiurim was important to him.  That’s how he said the shiurim.

    He used to say the shiur in the winter.  It was Baba Basra.  He would say the shiur Motzai Shabbos, noch Maariv[11].  And then Monday morning.  And then there was chazaras hashiur[12] Friday morning, and each time even the chazaras ha shiur, which was a repetition, was sasson v’smeichim kinisonaso maiHar Sinai[13].  It was something new.  A new kvetch, a new kneitch, a new havanah[14]. It was a fierdig, moradig[15] thing to see. 


    Thoughts on the Vilna Gaon

    There are several things that come to mind.  The Friday nights with the Rosh Yeshiva sitting around the table and listening to all those stories of the Gedolim - R’ Meshulam Igra, the Chasam Sofer, and the Vilna Gaon.  And the Rosh Yeshiva’s input into those stories, how he looked, his eima vofachad[16] when he mentioned the Gaon’s name.  It was moradig.  He gave us a feel of what the friedige zain geven[17], how his mussag of the Gaon, how he always used to say that the Gaon was really ahead of his time, in the time that he came to the world The only reason the Ribbono Shel Olam put him out of the seder[18] was to give us a mussag vi de frierdigge hubben ois gezen[19].  That was his taitch of how the Gaon came into the doros, to his place in the dor.


    Shmiras Ainayim[20]

    Another story which comes to mind, that always made a lifetime impression on me was in the summer zman, right after Baba Basra, when we learned Bava Metzia. My brother Reb Yosef had already come to the yeshiva then.  In the old building there were three floors.  The first floor was the dining room, the second floor was a couple of rooms -  the Rosh Yeshiva slept in one of the rooms and the third floor had some more dormitory rooms. 

    We were looking out our window which faced 7th Street, and we saw Reb Aharon emerge from the building to the street.  He was about to go into the street from the driveway, and two women from the college came by.  He immediately turned around, pulled a kapote over his head, and stood like that.  Several minutes passed by until he felt comfortable that they were out of range and then he continued to go.  Such a shmiras ainayim, a gadol. And those are the things that made a lifetime impression on us.


    Small Impressions Last a Lifetime

    Of course, there was also his hasmada, his running into the bais medrash whether it was a minute before Maariv or two minutes before Maariv, opening a sefer and learning, and many other things. 

    Sometimes the impression was subconscious.  You saw him do these things and you filed it away, but it was all all moradigge zachen[21], and it was an emeseh zchus[22] to be able to see such a menche like Reb Aharon.

    Obviously, it has an impression and it affects you for the rest of your life in many ways.  Many times you think, should you do something, should you not do something.  But if you saw azah menche, it holds you from doing something you shouldn’t do.  Pashut[23], I always have hakaras hatov to him.  Mamesh. I was able to see azah menche, even if not for long periods, they were short periods, but they made a significant impression on me.


    [1] Two witnesses who are holding each other

    [2] Baba Basra with the Shiurim is another Baba Basra, another Mesechta

    [3] Damage caused by looking into another’s property

    [4] Impurity in two objects touching another

    [5] Elimination of damages of mustard seed (near a bee hive)

    [6] You don’t understand Yiddish, what we’re speaking to you

    [7] You don’t begin to understand the course of the subject for study

    [8] What can it already be on Purim night?

    [9] Did you already knock out that foolishness from your head?

    [10] A bochur asks a question, what can be?

    [11] After night prayers

    [12] Shiur review

    [13] He exulted and rejoiced just as they were assembled at Har Sinai

    [14] A new grasp, a new twist, a new understanding

    [15] Fiery, awesome

    [16] Fear and trepidation

    [17] What the previous generations were

    [18] Sequence

    [19] Was to give us a concept how the previous generations looked like

    [20] Car on what he set his eyes on

    [21] Amazing things

    [22] Honest merit

    [23] It’s clear


  • Home
  • Biography
  • 125 Talmidim of Rav Kotler
  • Audio Files
  • Reb Eli Beane
  • Contact
  • Photo Gallery
  • Transcriptions