What brought the venerated, nonagenarian Gedolim, HaGaon HaRav Dov Landau, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of the Slabodka Yeshiva, HaGaon Harav Boruch Mordechai Ezrachi, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Ateres Yisroel, as well as the octogenarian kiruv legend and tzaddik, Rav Uri Zohar to a chanukas habayis for a yeshiva? Why would the great Rosh Yeshiva of Beis Yehuda, Rav Chaim Feinstein and the great Mashgiach of Orchos Torah, Rav Chizkiyahu Yosef Mishkovsky, shlita, take time from their busy schedules to attend a chanukas habayis for a relatively small kiruv yeshiva in Modiin Illit?
Indeed, it isn’t often that such a profoundly diverse and inspiring array of leading Gedolei Yisroel come together at one event – especially a relatively small event – but the chanukas habayis of Yeshivas Acheinu is not just any chanukas habayis. These venerated Torah leaders, to whom every second is precious, gave up hours of their time to come because Yeshivas Acheinu is a unique yeshiva that is doing things that few other yeshivos are doing.
The Rosh Yeshiva of Acheinu, Rav Zev Hofstedter put it succinctly when he said, “There are many yeshivos. There are some yeshivos that if they wouldn’t be there, the bachurim would go elsewhere to learn. There are some yeshivos that perhaps don’t have the nicest buildings or campuses but the bachurim will still learn even in the substandard conditions. Yeshivas Acheinu is unique because for most of these bachurim, if they didn’t have Yeshivas Acheinu they would not have another yeshiva to attend. Who knows where they would be?”
Creating the ‘Rotzeh Ani’
Rav Dov Landau, whose every word is measured, came all the way to Modiin Illit at his advanced age and encapsulated the uniqueness of Acheinu in one sentence. He said, “Yeshivas Acheinu creates the ‘Rotzeh Ani’ – the feeling in a bachur who would otherwise not be learning and brings him to a situation where not only does he learn but he exclaims, ‘I want to learn!!’ This,” said Rav Dov, “is a very great thing, because by doing this you are building [the bachur’s] future generations as well!”
Acheinu, the kiruv arm of Dirshu has been engaged in numerous areas of kiruv for many years. Yeshivas Acheinu is a result of the venerated Rosh Yeshiva, HaGaon HaRav Aharon Leib Shteinman’s urging of Acheinu’s founder, Rav Dovid Hofstedster to open a specific yeshiva with a specific purpose. Rav Aharon Leib realized that many children who came from shomer Shabbos homes with weaker backgrounds such as children of baalei teshuva and the like were falling through the cracks. They were not able to gain entry to mainstream yeshivos in Eretz Yisroel, yet they were not beginners either. There were no yeshivos for them and the results were horrifying and tragic. Rav Aharon Leib urged Rav Hofstedter to open a yeshiva to specifically cater to these boys. Following Rav Aharon Leib’s advice, he opened the yeshiva in Modiin Illit under the leadership of his son, Rav Zev Hofstedter and Rav Michoel Berlin.
The yeshiva has had phenomenal success. Its main problem was that its rented quarters could not accommodate the many bachurim that needed its services. The yeshiva needed its own building with all of the amenities required by a unique yeshiva of this type. Rav Yaakov Gutterman, Mayor of Modiin-Illit, recognized that the yeshiva was offering a profound service to Klal Yisroel and presented a piece of land upon which the yeshiva could build a campus. The campus was built by Acheinu and the chanukas habayis of the beautiful, sprawling campus was a celebration that numerous senior Gedolim felt they deeply wanted to attend to show their joy and support for this vital institution and the service it is providing, “not only for these bachurim but for generations of their descendants,” proclaimed Rav Landau.
“The Pnimiyus of Each Bachur is More Beautiful than the Chitzoniyus of This Building!”
At the chanukas habayis, Rav Boruch Mordechai Ezrachi passionately and in his inimitable way, said, “I am amazed! Imagine if you would have approached one of the bachurim learning in the yeshiva today and said, ‘You know what? You – yes you – can be mechadesh chiddushei Torah!’ Do you know what he would have said to you? ‘Stop living in a fantasy world!’ They were sure that nothing would come of them in ruchniyus even though deep down they desired to succeed in ruchniyus! Acheinu has taught them that the words, ‘I can’t’ or ‘this is not what I am good at’ don’t exist! I look at this building, and it is beautiful, but I think the pnimiyus of each bachur is even more beautiful than the chitzoniyus of this building!”
“Everyone Needs Chizuk!”
Indeed, Rav Uri Zohar echoed this theme when he said, “Each bachur who learns in this yeshiva has many reasons to enumerate why they won’t succeed, why they should give up, be meyayesh… The chiddush of Yeshivas Acheinu is that the hanhalla knows that deep down every bachur wants to succeed, you just have to give him the chizuk that he needs. Take it from me,” exclaimed Rav Zohar, “I am talking from experience! I am also one of those who slowly strengthened myself. I still need chizuk. But I have about forty years more experience in being mischazek over you. You should know that one can never give up. Keep trying! Talk to Hashem, beg Him and you will see, He will help you get the chizuk you need.”
“The Yeshiva’s Success Stems from Emunas Chachamim”
In his eloquent remarks, Rav Chizkiyahu Mishkovsky related that he attributes the tremendous success and siyata d’Shmaya that the yeshiva has, to the emunas chachamim with which it was founded. “I was in the room with the Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Shteinman when he asked Rav Dovid Hofstedter to establish a yeshiva for this kind of bachur. As everyone knows, the dream of Rav Dovid is Dirshu. Everyone should know and be tested on Shas, on Shulchan Aruch. The Rosh Yeshiva, however asked him to open this kind of yeshiva and, with his emunas chachamim, he accepted the task upon himself, b’ahavah. Today his dream is still being fulfilled, because some of those very talmidim of Yeshivas Acheinu are now at the level where they are taking Dirshu tests!”
In his remarks, Rav Chaim Feinstein explained how the yeshiva is a testament to the passuk that states that ‘no one should be forsaken.’ Every Yid has a chelek in Torah that needs to be cultivated.
“No Less of a Chiddush Than the Daf HaYomi”
Perhaps Rav Dovid Hofstedter himself put it best when he mentioned that, “This year will be the Siyum HaShas of the Daf HaYomi. We know that everyone will talk about Rav Meir Shapiro, the founder of the Daf HaYomi. There was another major innovation that Rav Meir Shapiro gave to Klal Yisrael. That is Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin. Until his time, there was no such thing in Poland as a yeshiva that provided bachurim with every need in the most beautiful way. Until then, yeshiva bachurim were looked down upon. Rav Meir Shapiro raised their honor. He showed that they belong in a beautiful building that will serve all their needs, both in the beis medrash and out of it. Lomdei Torah should be honored, because Torah needs to be honored. This chiddush of Rav Meir Shapiro is no less of a chiddush than the Daf HaYomi and it is a chiddush that is with us until this very day. This new building outfitted with every possible amenity to help the bachurim succeed in ruchniyus is a great manifestation of kavod shomayim and kiddush Hashem!”