Reports from the field, 5/30/2010

The Yeshiva Hakedosha

Shavuos in the Yeshiva

As is well known, “˜Shavuos in yeshiva’ is synonymous with spiritual uplifting and transcendence, let alone when speaking of a yeshiva such as Acheinu, where dozens of adolescents learn by choice and appreciate the value of learning Torah.

Following the festive yom tov meal in which many of the staff members actively participated, the boys sat down with a tremendous desire to toil diligently in learning through the night. They delved into the depths of a complex sugya, and at around two in the morning, they had an invigorating shiur preparing them for receiving the Torah, followed by Shacharis which began at four in the morning.

After davening they sat down to fulfill the “˜chetzyo lachem “” the half for yourselves’ with grandeur, a scrumptious dairy Kiddush, and from there the tired bachurim went to recharge themselves until the afternoon when they had a seudas hachag, followed by an additional learning seder concluding with a shmuess given by R’ Yerachmiel Kram Shlita.

The Yeshiva L’Tzeirim  

A grateful mother thanks Acheinu Yeshivos

Dear Acheinu,

We are residents of the yishuv “˜Tzofim’ in the Shomron, which is partially secular and partially religious. As we all know nothing is merely coincidence “” it all is directed by Hashem.  Despite the fact that we are completely secular we ended up in the religious neighborhood of Tzofim.
At first, we would drive on Shabbos, but we would park the car outside the neighborhood out of respect for our neighbors. However, gradually we became a religious family thanks to the influence of our neighbors. When our son Gal reached sixth grade, he switched from his secular school to “˜Ateres Chaim’ “” in Kfar Saba, with the help of Acheinu.
For families such as ours”” where Gal is an oldest child and oldest grandchild of both sides; where there is not a single family member who is even thinking in the direction of yeshiva and no backing or even an appreciation for this step, Yeshivas Acheinu is the best thing possible.
At first it was very difficult for him. He was the youngest boy in his class and it was difficult for him to catch up to his classmates.  In addition, it was Gal’s first time living in a dorm, away from home “” that was hard for him and us.

Baruch Hashem, the yeshiva’s dedicated hanhala and rebbeim understand Gal’s needs and works closely with him, allowing him to progress at his own pace. I truly appreciate how Rabbi Berlin in particular was always available to speak with us and R’ Konigsberg was always willing to advise us with patience in all matters.

The last time Gal returned home from yeshiva, I could hardly believe that this was the same Gal. He had grown so much in his yiras shamayim, limud hatorah, midos tovos and derech eretz “” it brought tears of joy to my eyes!

Attention in the Yeshivos

After Shavuos, in response to the idea of distributing lottery tickets in the yeshivos, we received  warm feedback from the Rosh Hayeshiva and the mashgiach of Yeshivas Orchos Hatalmud, R’ Yaakov Kochi Shlita and R’ Friedman Shlita, who were surprised to see how much the tickets can impact the intensity of the learning, to such an extent where the boys who saw the results in other yeshivos where bachurim are winning such valuable prizes such as stereo systems and the likes”¦ they took to it earnestly, and “˜shteiged’ on Shavuos night in an extraordinary fashion.

According to these rebbeimm, they intend on adopting the “˜segula’, and to award the bachurim from time to time for learning well and proper conduct, with the ultimate goal of course being “˜mitoch shelo lishma ba lishma­ “” what starts out with ulterior motives becomes something for its own sake.”

Battei Chizuk

The power of Tefilla

This week we got to see with our own eyes the power of tefilla, particularly with such bachurim who are baalei teshuva.

It all began a month ago, when one of my relatives had a son “” mazal tov.

Four weeks after the birth, the parents realized that the child was not feeling well. He was running a fever, diarrhea, vomiting and so on. They went to the doctor hoping that he would contribute it to a passing allergy. But the doctor conducted routine tests on the child, which did not reveal the reason for the high fever. The doctor had no choice but to send the parents to the emergency room.

The doctors in Ichilov Hospital did not tarry; after all this is a month-old baby. After a series of extensive tests; the worst was found: the child has a malignant brain tumor.

The parents barely managed to digest the terrible news, when the doctors started explaining to them not to set expectations for the child’s future. There is no cure for the child. Chemotherapy may be able to help other patients and extend their lives, but not for a month-old infant. The only thing left to do, other than davening of course, is a surgery in which they’ll attempt to remove the tumor or at least a big part of it.

In their great pain, the poor parents turned to me asking that I do something, to awaken the mercy of heaven, and I immediately organized a group of twelve bachurim from the medrashia, to come with me Friday night after chatzos to the kever of the Chazon Ish in Bnei Brak, where we would stay up all night completing the sefer tehillim for the success of the surgery and the infant’s health. The boys got an advance 100 ₪ each from the infant’s parents, in appreciation of their efforts, and instead of pocketing the money, these special boys went and donated the money to a gemach in Ramat Gan which distributes food baskets to the needy once a week.

Thursday night comes, and we all squish into my seven seat car on the way to Bnei Brak. We get to the kever and start saying tehillim. Another perek and another perek, which apparently was not at all an easy task. The boys come from completely secular homes and it is difficult for them to read the unfamiliar text, the pesukim from tehillim. I am encouraging them to continue, to do a little more to save the sick child, and in between we stop to sing together or to dance. I stand on the side and wonder where they get such devotion.

After we finish a sleepless night, we leave the kever, but not before each boy accepts upon himself something in merit of this infant’s health. One boy took upon himself to dawn tefillin every day, another to keep Shabbos, another to wear tzitzis”¦

I sent them home in a taxi, knowing that from here a salvation must come.

The next day I am told that the operation was successful, that is to say they were able to remove thirty percent of the growth without touching any sensitive spots which can lead to brain paralysis. But seventy percent of the growth is still there, which nothing can be done for except praying.

The doctors continue preparing the parents for worst case scenario, and determine how long they expect the child to survive. “Every day of life is a gift from above,” they tell the parents.

The days pass and it turns out that the parents get a lot of gifts from heaven. The child is still breathing even after the expected date set by the most optimistic doctors passes”¦

An internationally renowned professor was called in to explain “˜how the child is alive’ contrary to all predictions. The professor sends the baby in for another round of tests and he compares the new results with the old. The first results show an extremely infected head, a completely hopeless situation and the new results show that the head is”¦ completely clean. Wait, what’s going on? This must be a mistake!

The professor was in shock, the doctors were in shock and so were the parents. We don’t come across such miracles every day. A miracle that was a direct result of the prayers of true baalei teshuva “” thebachurim from the medrashia- they are on a level where even righteous people do not stand. “The Chazon Ish took the disease”¦” pronounced one of the Rabbis who heard the moving story.

Another similar story which I personally experienced with my little daughter of two years old. Last Shabbos afternoon she wasn’t feeling well; she was unresponsive and making strange noises. I took her to the Mayanei Heyshua Hospital. An arab doctor on call took me in, and immediately assured me that, “it must be a virus or something. But if you’ve come already, stay until motzai Shabbos.” Meanwhile he inserted an IV and she sank into a deep sleep. Four hours passed, five hours and I was waiting for the child to wake up, but the doctor was not alarmed, “it’s okay, this is what happens after medication.”

After a few more hours I decided that I would wake up the child. But she did not respond. A light went off in my head. I ran to the doctor and asked him to come quickly and check on the child, but he avoided it, “Wait until the doctors rounds tomorrow morning “¦”

When the doctors came in the morning, the girl was still asleep. The tests though showed that everything was okay, but she did not wake up. In between, I suddenly noticed that her face was swollen. I ran to the doctors and asked them to come quickly, and now they took the situation seriously, and summoned a specialist.

The specialist comes, checks her here and there, and asks to tell me something privately. “Your daughter is in a serious situation”¦” I nearly collapse. What will be?

After several hours of urgent consultations, they decided to inject strong medications, which are not usually given, because they are more likely to cause harm than good. But without any other option, in order to save the child, this was the only thing left to do. The girl got the first dose, whose results can only be seen the following evening.

In the course of the afternoon I get a flood of phone calls from the medrashiai, “Where are you? We’re all waiting for you!” I tell the local activist that I am in the hospital, and let him in on the situation. He quickly assures me that he’ll arrange a tefilla with the boys. Indeed, the boys took it seriously, and there was tremendous learning and davening and undertakings in mitzvos and other maasim tovim.

All the while, until two in the morning, I was also busy with a mitzvah; convincing a bachur not to leave the yeshiva, and the persuasion b’h worked.

I was getting ready to go to sleep, and suddenly I hear a familiar voice, “Abba””¦ I jumped out of bed and discovered that it was my daughter. She is conscious. She is lifting her head and looking at me. This is the first sign of life since Shabbos. I ran to inform the nurse on duty, and she of course did not believe me. But the reality was that I b’h was not hallucinating.  Right then and there she calls all the necessary parties, and tells them to come to the doctor rounds the following morning.

“Tell us, what did you do to her?” the doctors repeatedly asked the next morning, some of them with suspicious looks. “I didn’t do anything,” I say defensively, “it was the boys in the medrashia, they intervened in heaven,” I tried to explain to the shocked doctors. “You should know that you got your daughter as a gift,” was the last thing I heard.

The girl, who according to their original expectations was going to have to be hospitalized for months was released and that week I made an emotional seudas hodaah in the medrashia.

Battei Chizuk

The benches of the beis medrash have increased

As part of the general development of the summer center, we b’h are able to see the benches of the bes medrash inKiryat Gat filling up, with high quality boys from the area who continue to come with great devotion, among them a bachur who begged us to help him convince his parents to agree to send him to yeshiva.

On Shavuos night we took the group of bachurim from Kiryat Gat to tour yeshivos in Bnei Brak, to allow them to breathe in the yeshiva atmosphere, catch the sights and also want to join sooner or later into the framework of the yeshiva kedosha.

Project Toronto

Touring yeshivos on Shavuos night

In honor of Shavuos we took a group of eighth grade boys on a visit to Bnei Brak. We visited Ponovezh in its glory, where the boys saw for the first time in their lives hundreds upon hundreds of men in black diligently learning Torah. There is no doubt that these images have the power to influence them, more than many mussar lectures, which was proven at the end of the chag, when a couple of kids who prior to the visit needed some persuading of their own, became persuaders after the visit”¦ They turned to their activist, Yossi Aryeh, and asked him about their friend, a very smart boy who they know does not want to learn in yeshiva, which they thought of as a shame. “It’s worth a try for you to call and convince will to come to the yeshiva“¦”