PHOTOS: Yesterday, the Lakewood community led by Gedolei Yisroel from throughout came out en masse to daven and show solidarity with Acheinu Bnei Yisroel chareidim l’dvar Hashem, in Eretz Yisroel who are now undergoing perhaps the most difficult period since the establishment of the State of Israel 65 years ago. The gathering called by the Rosh Yeshiva, Hagaon Rav Aryeh Malkiel Kotler, shlita, was held in conjunction with the annual asifa for Keren Birchas Shmuel that supports kollel yungeleit in Eretz Yisroel.
It was a most powerful, inspiring sight to see the Ateres Chana/Bais Faiga Hall including all of the auxiliary rooms packed. Perhaps even more inspiring was to see an even larger crowd outside the hall in large tents watching the proceedings on screens that were set up everywhere to accommodate the crowds of people, sitting, standing and craning their necks to see and hear what message the great Roshei Yeshiva were delivering to the American Torah Community just two days before Rosh Hashanah. They clearly came because they deeply care and are profoundly alarmed by the present Israeli government’s discriminatory attack on the chareidi community there.
The Roshei Yeshiva addressing the event were: Hagaonim Rav Malkiel Kotler, Rav Chaim Leib Epstein and Rav Elya Chaim Swerdloff, shlita. Other Roshei Yeshiva in attendance included Hagaonim Rav Aharon Shechter, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin, Rav Aharon Feldman, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Ner Yisroel of Baltimore, Rav Yeruchem Olshin, Rav Dovid Schustal, Rav Yisroel Neuman, Roshei Yeshiva of Bais Medrash Govoah and the Mashgiach, Rav Mattisyohu Salomon, shlita. Tens of local Rabbonim also attended.
Rav Malkiel Kotler pointed out that it is clear that the present Israeli Government has undertaken an unprecedented effort in social engineering in their attempts to try changing the chareidi community and compromise on their hallowed values. They don’t need or want chareidim in the army; they want them away from their Gemaros! They aim to achieve their goal by forcing chareidim into the army and by unprecedented budgetary slashing that will cause untold pain and suffering. The Rosh Yeshiva called on the Lakewood community to feel their pain and to engage in self-improvement as a zechus.
Rav Chaim Epstein spoke about the primary theme of Rosh Hashanah, Malchius. He explain that if there is an attack on Malchus Shomayim it behooves all of us, here in America as well, to accept upon ourselves Hashem’s malchus with greater alacrity. He especially cautioned against over indulgence in matters of olam hazeh that pull one’s focus away from Hashem’s malchus.
Rav Elya Chaim Swerdloff powerfully depicted the attempt to pull bnei Torah from their Gemaros and the draconian budget cuts aimed at kollel yungeleit as no less than an attack on the proverbial heart of Klal Yisroel. “When there is an attack on the heart,” he said, “we must forget about all other matters and do whatever is in our power to stabilize the heartbeat. Without the heart there can be no Klal Yisroel.”
He called on the Lakewood community to elevate themselves; to live elevated lives and not get caught up in pettiness. In the zechus of bnei Torah in America strengthening themselves in ruchniyus and feeling the pain of their brethren in Eretz Yisroel, Hashem will have mercy.
The evening ended with a most fervent, powerful recitation of numerous kapitlach of Tehillim. Tears could be seen in the eyes of some yungeleit as they begged Hashem to spare their brethren in Eretz Yisroel from further pain and suffering.
Rabbi Menashe Frankel, chairman of the evening, urged the assemblage to generously support Keren Birchas Shmuel, whose raison d ‘etre is to assist yungeleit in Eretz Yisroel that have nowhere else to turn.