A little-known story about my father Zt”l

Bubbele!” roars Rabbi Elchonon Berenbaum, as he engages fondly with one of his Talmidim in Bais Medrash L’Torah’s new Mesivta. Reb Elchonon, the second-to-youngest child of the late Mirrer Rosh Yeshiva HRH”G HoRav Shmuel Berenbaum Zt”l, is a one-of-a-kind Rebbe with decades of experience in reaching every Talmid.

How did I become a Rebbe here in Rav Yisroel Goldblatt’s new Mesivta? It was pure hashgocho protis. I got to know Rav Yisroel and became very close to him from Lutzk’s Kollel Ohr Shmuel where we both learn daily at 6:15 AM. So when Rav Yisroel opened this Mesivta specially geared to reaching every Talmid he asked me to join him.”

“What example did I see from my father Zt”l that guides me in reaching every Talmid in Rav Yisroel Goldblatt’s Mesivta? Well, I had heard many times from Rav Dovid Trenk Zt”l how my father Zt”l used to come to Adelphia and how much my father Zt”l loved the bochurim there and how much as a result they loved him in return. But the truth is that I saw it with my very own eyes. I remember particularly one unforgettable example.

I remember, how, many decades ago someone brought a kid-at-risk to see my father Zt”l. My father connected with this kid in a very big way – and like they say – he loved him to bits – and this bochur became so close to my father Zt”l that not only did he, within a short time, get into learning in a major way – today, many decades later, he’s a successful marbitz Torah and a Talmid muvhak of my father Zt”l.”

“How did the new Mesivta start? It’s mamosh not to be believed, but one day, this time last year, right out of the blue, the Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Yisroel Goldblatt, literally just met some bochurim and opened the Mesivta!

He had run into them, outside a take-out place. Rav Yisroel began schmoozing with them energetically and warmly – as he does with everyone that he meets. They were open with him and confided with him that they had dropped out of Mesivta and and when Rav Yisroel Goldblatt sees a need in Klal Yisroel he jumps right in.

Knowing that there wasn’t a moment to lose Rav Yisroel told them that he was opening a new Mesivta for bochurim like themselves, that he was going to open that same day and with pure enthusiasm and energy he persuaded them to be the Mesivta’s first Talmidim. Once we got started the word of how we were reaching every Talmid got out and more bochurim joined. Today we already have Talmidim who have gone on to other Mesivtos and are doing beautifully there.”

“What’s our Mesivta’s biggest challenge? It’s what Rav Trenk Zt”l told me many times. When a bochur is either seriously unhappy in Mesivta or finds himself outside Mesivta it’s very hard for parents to come to terms with the reality of it. They want to believe it’s just a passing phase and the bochur will get over it on his own. Rav Trenk told me “I told so many parents to send their sons to me – and I could have saved so many more – but unfortunately so many were lost because their parents wouldn’t agree.” Although things have improved since those days, we are still to a significant degree facing that challenge.”

“What type of bochur do we have here in Mesivta? All of them daven, they all learn – yes, they may lack zitzfleish to a certain extent, so we have longer breaks. What they like here is that everything is very real, there is no facade and they feel very safe here. The proof is that when we have off they stay here anyway – they even have ta’anos on us when we have an off Shabbos! It’s poshut their home.”

“What message do I have for those who have given so generously to Bais Medrash L’Torah? When a bochur is either seriously unhappy in Mesivta or finds himself outside Mesivta that can cause very serious problems. What we are doing here in our new Mesivta with your help is mamosh hatzolas nefoshos. It’s doros. It’s nitzchiyus. It’s all in your zechus and we could not have done anything without you! Ashreichem ve’Ashrei Chelkechem and in that zechus you should all be gebentscht lesheim ulesiferes with your own doros and nitzchiyus!”