Remembering Rav Mordechai Goldstein of Diaspora Yeshiva zt”l, Upon His Shloshim

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Rav Mordechai Goldstein, a talmid of Rav Aharon Kotler, pioneer of the teshuvah movement, and founder of the Har Tzion Yeshiva sited next to the kever of Dovid Hamelech on Har Tzion, passed away in Yerushalayim at the age of 85 after a debilitating illness.

Rav Mordechai was born in the United States and studied at the Salanter Yeshiva in the Bronx before becoming one of first talmidim of Rav Aharon Kotler (whose 52nd yahrtzeit fell on the same day as Rav Mordechai’s passing). By the age of 20, Rav Mordechai had authored his first sefer, Imrei Mordechai, on Shas.

In an interview with the Israeli chareidi media, Rav Mordechai spoke of once meeting Rav Elchonon Wasserman in his pre-war years.

“When I met him, I asked, ‘Why is your honor returning to Europe where there is war and danger?'” Rav Mordechai said. “He answered, ‘A person is led in the path he wants to go.’ In addition, he said, ‘The factor that always guides me in heading the yeshiva is that everyone must do his obligation in his world, and my obligation is to take care of the talmidim and not desert them even if it’s a time of danger and war.'”

“This is what empowers me until today,” Rav Mordechai concluded.

Asked by Chadrei Chareidim who encouraged him to establish his pioneering ba’al teshuvah yeshiva, Rav Mordechai replied: “Rav Aharon Kotler, Rav Chaim Pinchas Sheinberg, [and] Rav Henoch Leibowitz. From the start, the yeshiva was meant for ba’alei teshuvah and the gedolei Yisroel pushed and encouraged me to do this as there was nothing like it until then.”

The yeshiva’s original name was Toras Yisroel, indicating that the Torah belongs to the whole of Klal Yisroel, he said. But after people from all over the world came to learn there, it became known as the Diaspora Torah Yisroel Yeshiva.

“Originally, the yeshiva was set up in the ezras noshim of the Chevron Yeshiva in Geulah,” he said. “After a few months the yeshiva grew and moved to the Diskin Orphanage in Givat Shaul. When that place became too small, I asked Dr. S.Z. Kahana, then the Religious Ministry’s first general-director, to find the yeshiva a building and he suggested its present location. When I asked him the reason for his suggestion, he said that he thought it a good idea to put us there in order to breathe life into the desolate holy place. This was after we paid a million liros for the neglected place which people were afraid to get near.

“We came with a sense of mission on behalf of Dovid Hamelech and Har Tzion,” he said. “We brought life to the desolation with hundreds of talmidim who still feel a special bond to the place.”

The Har Tzion area was inhabited by Muslims and Christians. Thirty years ago, the beis medrash was burned and twenty years ago a bochur, Shlomi Cohen, was murdered. But all difficulties were overcome.

Due to its proximity to a place holy to Christians, the Vatican once offered Rav Goldstein $40 million to buy two of its rooms. Rav Yosef Sholom Elyashiv ruled, “One may not sell or rent even half a room to Christians; it’s an idolatry.”

Asked how to ensure that a yeshiva has no dropouts Rav Mordechai responded: “One achieves this by ensuring that a bochur is always happy in the yeshiva and feels that he is fulfilling his purpose in life through learning in calm and tranquility.”

“The factor which characterizes us is unity,” he said. “Diaspora Yeshiva unifies the whole of Klal Yisroel with all its varieties and types, Sefardim and Ashkenazim, bochurei yeshiva and ba’alei teshuvah… and even expellees of Gush Katif are in the yeshiva. In short, the yeshiva is for anyone who wants to study Torah and grow.”

Hundreds accompanied Rav Mordechai’s aron to Har Hazeisim on erev Shabbos in driving rain. At the levayah, his son, Rav Yitzchok Goldstein, was appointed his successor as rosh yeshiva of the yeshiva he led lovingly for almost forty years.

Yehi zichro boruch.

{Matzav.com Israel News}

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