It is the third consecutive year that Mr. and Mrs. Applegrad have so graciously hosted the Flatbush Parlor meeting. As always, the event on behalf of Acheinu, promised to be engaging and enjoyable, and it was richly so in every sense, in ruchniyus and gashmiyus together.
The exciting ruchniyus experience and center of the evening was without a doubt the opportunity to hear Rav Shmuel Yaakov Borenstein and be inspired by his profound and kindhearted words on behalf of the tremendous kiruv activities of Acheinu.
Acheinu, now in its twentieth year of spectacular activity, growth and success, is the Kiruv movement with the unique program of developing young people as b’nei Torah. It has succeeded, with great Siyata d’Shmaya, in attaining an astonishing success rate of ensuring that children of all backgrounds become complete Shomrei Torah u’Mitzvos. With a unique system of follow up and accountability, Acheinu has succeeded in enrolling more than 93% of its charges, Israeli public school children, in yeshivos kedoshos. In the past 20 years, Acheinu has made a successful positive impact on more than 10,000 children. Each year, roughly 1,200-1,500 Israeli children begin the new school year in yeshivos instead of public schools, thanks to Acheinu’s broad range of programs and initiatives. Acheinu, recognizing the children’s need for constant support and chizuk, invests in an entire staff of avreichim to serve as mentors, throughout their yeshiva years and beyond, until they become true bnei Torah, marry and establish Torah homes.
HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Yaakov Borenstein
Rav Shmuel Yaakov Borenstein, the renowned rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Kiryas Melech in Bnei Brak, is known for his brilliance in Torah and comprehensive shiurim. Rav Borenstein served as a R”M at Yeshiva Nachlas Dovid in Petach Tikvah and then as a rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva Chevron, Geulah for twenty years with HaGaon HaRav Chaim Sarna zt”l. With the founding of Kiryas Melech in Bnei Brak he was invited to serve as rosh yeshiva.
Rav Borenstein was one of the most prominent talmidim of Rav Chaim Shmulevitz zt”l and was involved in the preparation of Rav Chaim’s seforim, Shaarei Chaim. He was also one of the most prominent talmidim of HaGaon HaRav Yitzchok Hutner zt”l at Yeshivas Beis HaTalmud-Gur Aryeh. Rav Borenstein is the author of several important sefarim including collections of his Shiurim on several masechtos of Shas.
Rav Shmuel Yaakov Borenstein’s words
Rav Dovid Morgenstern, Chairman of the Parlor Meeting’s Reception Committee opened the evening by connecting the remarkable work of Acheinu with the Parshah of the week. Rav Borenstein shlita, was then introduced by Rav Shlomo Cynamon, shlita, Rav of K’hal Bnei Torah and Rosh Kollel of Kollel Dirshu of Flatbush. Rav Cynamon is an erudite talmid chochom and maggid shiur. Rav Cynamon, introducing Rav Borenstein, stressed that the crowd who had come to hear such a tremendous marbitz Torah as Rav Borenstein, was there, “not because we are celebrity seekers,” but for the opportunity to see and aspire to their greatness and be inspired by it.
Rav Borenstein opened his gentle and erudite address describing Acheinu’s formidable kiruv accomplishments (“an amazing phenomenon”) which he compared to the model of Yaakov Avinu in the week’s Parshah, Vayeitzei.
Yaakov Avinu came after 14 years of learning in the Yeshiva of Shem and Eiver, and found flocks of thirsty sheep, but all the shepherds simply didn’t have the strength to remove the stone on the mouth of the well to provide what the flocks thirsted for. Yaakov stepped forward and removed the stone, as Rashi describes it as if removing a cork from a bottle, “to teach you that his strength was great”. It would appear that his strength was physical. But Rav Borenstein cited an insight from an inference of the Alter of Kelm, told to him by his rebbe, Rav Chaim Shmulevitz, from the Tefilas Geshem of R. Elazar HaKalir: “Yichad Lev vegal even mipi habe’er . . . bavuro al timna mayim.” Yaakov unified, directed his heart, and revealed the stone from the well . . . in that merit, may there be water.” Beyond physical prowess, Yaakov’s directing his heart because he felt the achrayus, the responsibility, to water sheep who were thirsty, that gave him the strength to do what all the shepherds could not.
That is Acheinu. The Achrayus: “Ein Hadavar taluy elah bi,” itself gives a person the kochos and strength to give Torah to thirsty young Israeli children who need it. Though the young flocks that Acheinu brings close to Torah do not know that they thirst, they certainly do, and they eventually flock to Yeshivos and become bnei Torah. Rav Borenstein mentioned that in his own yeshiva, “we have a boy who came from Acheinu”.
He noted that today this thirst is not just in children who come to Acheinu with no background, but even in young people from observant families who have “fallen from the flock”, who themselves don’t know how much they truly thirst for Torah. Acheinu’s chesed and reward in dealing with such children, whose families are in such pain, Rav Bornstein said, is simply limitless.
Moreover, the reward Hashem gives for bringing children close to Torah and into Yeshivos is inestimable, a point Rav Borenstein noted by artfully weaving together many sources of Midrash and Gemara.
Rav Borenstein cited Rashi’s comment on “You shall be happy before HaShem, you, your son, your daughter, your servant, and your maid-servant, the Levi, the stranger, the orphan, and the widow,” (Devarim 16:11). Said HaKadosh Baruch Hu, “I have four bnei bayis: the Levi, the stranger, the orphan, and the widow. If you make my four happy, I will make your four happy: your son, your daughter your servant, and your maid-servant.” The Israeli public school children of Acheinu are HaShem’s orphans in that sense: Who will raise them? Who will be mechanech them? If we bring true happiness to HaShem’s children; He will certainly bring true happiness to ours.”
Because of Acheinu’s truly amazing work and formidable accomplishments in kiruv, it has attracted a significant local reception committee of Flatbush community leaders and askanim dedicated to Acheinu’s mission and increased success.
The Reception Committee members are: Rav Dovid Morgenstern, Chairman, Simcha Applegrad, Chaskel Bennett, Efroim Fasten, Shulky Greenwald, Menachem Jakubovic, Menachem Katz, Yitzy Leshintsky, Menachem Lipman, Yanky Miller, Moshe Muller, Mendy Strauss, Levi Zagelbaum, and Rav Gedaliah Zlotowitz.
They have encouraged their friends to avail themselves of the opportunity.