The Nasi of Acheinu, HaGaon HaRav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz zt”l, always makes himself available to offer daas Torah for the kiruv queries asked of him by Acheinu. The following story illustrates Rav Lefkowitz”s close bond with Acheinu and its charges.
Yaakov, a bachur from an irreligious, somewhat traditional family, was a boy with exemplary middos and yiras shamayim. Unfortunately, he was academically very weak and learning was difficult.
His avreich, Betzalel, wanting to be mechazek him, took him to visit Rav Lefkowitz. Yaakov told Rav Michel Yehuda about his difficulty learning, “I try but I simply can”t understand.” Rav Michel Yehuda asked him his father’s occupation. “He is a carpenter.”
“Is he shomer Torah u”mitzvos?”
“Are any siblings in yeshiva?”
“Are your sisters in frum schools?”
Rav Michel Yehuda then asked, “Do you know what kind of responsibility rests on your shoulders? You are only one – you must carry the entire family.”
Yaakov replied brokenheartedly, “But I just can”t learn! I try, but it is so very hard!”
The nonagenarian Rav Michel Yehuda became very emotional and began to cry. Seeing the tears coursing down the Rosh Yeshiva”s face, Yaakov also began to cry. Rav Michel Yehuda finally composed himself and lovingly told Yaakov, “I want to tell you – I am Rosh Yeshiva of Ponovezh Yeshiva Ketana for many decades. In all my years, experience has shown me that it is not the brilliant boys who succeed – it is the masmidim who keep at it. My advice is that you learn during the yeshiva”s sedarim. Don”t learn late at night, don”t skip meals. Sleep during sleeping times, eat during eating times and learn during learning times. Just keep at it and you will see – the gates of learning will suddenly open and you will understand, you will see such success, such great light, that you will forget the darkness which currently clouds your existence.”
Rav Michel Yehuda concluded, “Anytime it is hard for you, and you feel discouraged please come back to me and we will talk. I am always here, available and wanting to speak to you!”