By Rabbi Baruch Noy
To call myself a talmid would be expressing a hope, but I can certainly say that Rav Moshe Twersky HY”D was my Rebbi.
As with every Talmid who entered the Shiur, I too immediately became attracted to, and infatuated with, this seemingly physical manifestation of a Malach. No Talmid in the Shiur ever had a hesitation as to how to explain the words of the Chachomim “If your Rebbi seems to you as a Malach Hashem.” However, Rebbi was not a Mal’ach – he was a Kadosh.
Anyone who claims that R’ Moshe Twersky HY”D is now a Kadosh for having been murdered Al Kiddush Hashem clearly never met my Rebbi in his lifetime. My Rebbi was a Kadosh in real life, not just with his death.
As was pointed out my those that said the Hespedim, everyone that came into close quarters with Rebbi new very quickly that his existence was more appropriate in a previous generation. He was larger than our generation, both in his accomplishments and in his personality. This lends itself to a mistake, however. In fact, I remember the reactions of many when I revealed that I spoke to Rebbi about such mundane matters as which Yeshiva to continue on at after leaving Toras Moshe, or other practical life issues and decisions. Almost everyone said “You spoke to Rebbi about Olam Hazeh?!”
I am not about to diminish the greatness of Rebbi by suggesting that he was anything less than a Mal’ach Hashem. I only want to point out that the true greatness lies in the fact that though Rebbi was so Kadosh, he could still lower himself down to the Talmid in order to raise the Talmid to greater heights. I have no doubt that he didn’t enjoy the content of those conversations about Olam Hazeh issues, but at the same time I have no doubt that he relished the opportunity to raise a simple person towards a loftier level, closer to himself.
If I had to put it succinctly, I would say the following: I understand that Rebbi raised himself to the level where Avodas Hashem became natural. This was hard work, over many years, without any doubt. I, as a Talmid, do not expect to reach such lofty heights as the Rebbi. However, here is what Rebbi taught me: Think twice. Before you act, think again if this is really going to bring you to an elevated relationship with Hashem.
I understand that from the day I met rebbi, some 13 years ago, he most likely did not need to think twice anymore. I also understand that I cannot expect to imitate this feat. But I can think twice. Before I click on a link, I think twice. Before I spend money, I think twice. Before I make a Brocha, I think twice. Before I eat from a suspicious Hechsher, I think twice. This habit I did not imitate, rather I was taught.
Many times I wonder how even the Dor Dei’ah could possibly be inspired by Moshe Rabbeinu – it would be so easy to say; “Oh, that kind of thing is not for our level – that’s only for people like Moshe Rabbeinu!” So how, in fact, did Moshe Rabbeinu succeed? Thanks to my Rebbi, I know the answer: Moshe Rabbeinu was able to live on a higher level, while trying to honestly and sincerely draw the people closer to him, little by little. So it was with our Moshe Rabbeinu – we knew who he was, and he knew who we were. He wouldn’t cut us short, and we can’t let ourselves cut us short either. Will we ever be capable of needing to only think once? Perhaps not, but the experience of seeing someone who could, will forever impress upon me what Rebbi would want me to do on my level: Think twice.
It goes without saying that I can write pages and pages of important lessons that I learned from my Rebbi, but I think that this is the one that I will stress as I begin to speak about my Rebbi for those that are asking for it.
Rabbi Baruch Noy
Rebbe, Yeshiva K’tana of Waterbury; Yeshivas Toras Moshe, 2001-2004