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Words From Our Rabbeim

Without R’ Yehoshua Ben Gamla The Torah Would Be Forgotten

ByRabbi Elly Merenstein

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Rav Yaakov Weinberg, z”l, the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Ner Yisrael of Baltimore would often quote the Gemara in Bava Basra “Rav Yehuda said in the name of Rav; But the name of that man is to be blessed, R’ Yehoshua ben Gamla, for without him the Torah would be forgotten b’yisrael.

The Gemara teaches that initially Torah education was done in the way Hashem mandated in the verse. Vshinantem Lvonecha. The best way to teach Torah is for the father to lovingly impart Torah to his sons. Initially, that is what was done. Fathers taught their sons. There was a problem. There were orphans who did not have fathers who would teach them. Only those with fathers would be brought to Yerushalayim. The orphans had no one to bring them there. They set up yeshivos in the districts. When boys matured and could travel on their own, at age 16 or 17, they would travel to the district school. This also did not work well. Students who begin to learn as adolescents might reject the discipline and pressure their teachers attempt to bring on them to get them to learn. Yehoshua Ben Gamla, solved the problem with an important enactment. He instituted that in every locale the community had to make a yeshiva for the children to study in it.

Asked Rav Weinberg, but what about all the children who had fathers and who could have had the ideal form of Torah instruction? Why were these children to lose out on the personal touch and instead have to attend a local school to enable the orphans to study? Rav Weinberg answered that this Gemara teaches us an important lesson. Hashem gave His Torah to the Jewish nation. To succeed in Hashem’s Torah we need Hashem’s help. We only get His support when we demonstrate care for all the members of His nation.

Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Gamla taught a great principle. If the majority would learn well, but a minority would not learn at all, the learning of the majority would not last or succeed.

Were it not for him, the Gemara says that the Torah would have been forgotten by the Jewish people.

My dear friends, It is without a question that we can only succeed if we set standards and work together to create a yeshiva that offers a high quality education and will act as a conduit to be able to connect each talmid to Hakadosh Baruch Hu. It is also without question that many of the boys coming in are boys in need of tremendous love , acceptance as we slowly but surely reveal to them who they really are and what they are capable of. We are doing something different. We are not an “at risk kids yeshiva”.

We are taking responsibility to offer a regular yeshiva setting for kids who need it. We are caring for all the children Hashem sends our way. Hashem does not pick just anyone to uplift his finest. I am looking forward to a great year together and I thank Hashem from the bottom of my heart for the opportunity to work together with all of you on our shared avodas akodesh.

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