25 Teves 5776/ January 6, 2016
His True Essence
By: Rabbi Yosef Tropper
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I think of my rebbe, Rav Asher Zelig HaKohen Rubenstein zt”l at least twice every day. It is specifically while reciting shema that his memory comes to me in a most vivid manner. If you had ever heard him daven, you may think you know the reason that I remember him during shema, but it’s not what you expect. Yes, we all have memories of the Rosh Yeshiva zt”l reciting “v’lo sosuru acharey l’vavchem v’acharei eineichem, do not veer off and follow your heart or after your eyes…” with his heartfelt tune while waiving his finger and head to signify the “forbidden” sign (1), but that’s not what reminds me of him every morning and night. Instead, it is three words at the end of shema which summarize the Torah’s goal for every Jew, “v’heyisem kedoshim leilokiechem, be holy to your G-d.” These words had deep meaning to rebbe and the image that comes to me each time I recite them is that of Rav Asher zt”l and what he strived for. His life to me was the pursuit of becoming a kaddosh, a holy person. This was his most eloquent message.
(1) I am grateful to the Rubenstein family for sharing with me the manuscript of Sefer Mi Yaaleh, the Hebrew biography of Rav Asher zt”l which is almost complete. Many stories in this present article were known to me first hand and were also found in that biography (as noted in this article). In the chapter about Ponevezh, the family recounted that they have in their possession many kuntrisim, notebooks, that Rav Asher zt”l wrote as a young bochur in yeshiva. One of the notebooks is called “Chizuk” and has about 20 topics, each containing inspirational quotes that Rav Asher compiled to keep himself inspired. Most of the quotes are maamarei chazal or one liners taken from various seforim or sichos he heard. In the section on kedusha, Rav Asher wrote down this posuk of “v’lo sosuru.” At first I was perplexed as to why he simply quoted a posuk, but then I realized that this was his greatness. How many people do you know that count a posuk in the Torah as their inspiration?! But to him, this posuk was alive and it empowered him to push forward in his quest toward true service of Hashem. I heard with my own ears the brendt and life that Rav Asher found in that posuk over forty-five years after he added it into his Chizuk notebook. It still inspired him.
Kedusha means to lift yourself above the distractions, temptations and falsehoods of this world and to live a life dedicated to fulfilling Hashem’s goals for you. Rav Asher was a self-proclaimed fanatic when it came to kedusha. He was always careful to avoid being placed in a situation that would compromise his growth. He talked to his talmidim about shemiras einayim and about staying away from places that were pitfalls and spiritual dangers. When he attended a simcha, especially a wedding, he demanded that men and women be seated separately. If he was not satisfied with the arrangements he would unabashedly and unapologetically let you know. There’s a phrase throughout Shas (see Kiddushin 44a for example) of “tzavach kikruchya, he screamed like a crane [in protest].” The talmidim of Rav Asher all knew what it meant to see that passionate action carried out. He had so much energy all the time, and especially when he was fired up, that you sometimes forgot his real age and thought he was at the prime of youthful vigor.
Growing Each Day
Rav Asher was always striving to grow more and more and to have a life of holiness and spiritual happiness. I’ve met many motivated people in my life. Some are doctors; some lawyers and some are ambitions businessmen who want to get rich. They work tirelessly to achieve their goal and their lives revolve around that which they are pursuing. As Shlomo Hamelech writes (Koheles 5:9), “He who loves money, will never be satisfied with money,” he will keep pursuing it passionately and can never be stopped. Imagine if someone had that same passion and drive when it came to spirituality. Imagine if that person saw every moment in life as another opportunity to learn Torah, to perform mitzvos and to help other people in need. Imagine if that person had all the motivation and unified focus comparable to the businessman who was seeking to be rich. That would be one hyper-focused person. That was who Rav Asher was.
Rav Asher wasn’t a fanatic because his views were strict, he was a person whose focus on truth and whose understanding of the value of life and the importance of Torah and mitzvos was so strong that there just was nothing else to see or talk about. At the same time, he was normal and you could connect with him. He could laugh and smile with you and he knew how to pat you on the back and make you feel like a million dollars. When he shared from his heart, when he expressed his conviction, you saw where his passion was. The only thing valid and important to him was Torah and living a life as a genuine oved Hashem. He infused us with stories of his rabbeim and Daas Torah and he taught us by example how to be an erlich Jew.
With all of his drive and focus, Rav Asher was a very happy person. He was not uptight at all. You always saw a tremendous smile on his face, whether he was learning, davening, reciting birchas hamazon, or talking with a talmid or interacting with his family, the smile was there. His simcha was palpable and was what grabbed our attention about him first. We would say, “He’s demanding us to push ourselves, to overcome laziness, to question some of our incorrect hashkafos, that’s really hard and inconvenient, but look how much simcha he has in his life. I can’t just ignore that, I need to try it for myself.” And once we began to learn Torah and appreciate davening and mitzvos, we saw where his simcha was coming from. He would say, “Ta’amu u’riu ki tov Hashem, taste how good Torah is. Harcheiv picha v’amaleihu, the Kadosh Baruch Hu just wants you to open your mouth and He will fill it up with pleasure. He wants you to enjoy this world in the most real way.” Rav Asher taught us how to find the true pleasure in life.
Rav Asher was always driven and passionate about using life. His notebook of chizuk has an entry called “hasmada, diligence” which urges him to throw away personal excuses and to charge forward in life. He wrote, “Think about the previous generations of Jews who lived under constant fear for their lives, in dire danger and were pursued violently by their enemies, yet, they persevered over all their troubles, they learned Torah and became gedolim. Believe in yourself and know that you too can overcome challenges and learn despite distractions. All the more so, nowadays, where we are free and safe, why do you still allow yourself to cause bitul Torah?! (Mi Yaaleh)
Rav Asher wrote in his kuntres one Elul, “Did you grow today to be greater than yesterday? Have you used the day productively?”
Connected to His Teachers
One of the most defining traits of Rav Asher’s talmidim is their respect for talmidei chachamim and their deep connection and respect for their rabbeim. He taught this by example. Rav Asher spoke in awe of his rabbeim, Rav Chatzkal Levenstein zt”l, Rav Shach zt”l and ybl”c Rav Shmuel Auerbach shlita, teaching us how to be a talmid. You simply watched him interact with gedolim and you saw a child sitting before his father in awe, drinking in every word.
Rav Aharon Kotler passed away on November 29, 1962 and Rav Asher arrived at Beis Midrash Govoha to learn under Rav Shneur Kotler less than two years later. It was a defining time in BMG where many debated who the appropriate new Rosh Yeshiva should be. Rav Shach was the machriah who paskened that Rav Shneur should take on the mantel, but some of the old talmidim had a hard time adjusting to the change. One talmid from that period recounted that when Asher Zelig arrived, he deeply latched onto Rav Shneur, attending all his shiurim, serving him and hanging onto him as a thirsty talmid connects with his rebbe who provides him with life-giving water, Torah. The older students were very moved by the dedication and hislahavus which Asher Zelig displayed and many were inspired to follow suit. Rav Asher’s connection to his rebbe made an impact on the entire yeshiva and allowed others to see the greatness of Rav Shneur as their new rebbe. In due time, Rav Shneur was beloved and respected by all. Many of the talmidim felt that it was Rav Asher’s love and commitment to his rebbe, something he learned while studying under Rav Chatzkal, that uplifted the entire BMG (Mi Yaaleh).
Rav Asher was the second child born to his parents after his sister who was six years older. He was named “Asher Zelig” after his mother’s grandfather. His namesake was known to all for his piousness and his fearless ability to give rebuke to anyone, young and old, if needed (Mi Yaaleh). Rav Asher certainly inherited this trait from his namesake and was not afraid of anyone or anything when emes had to be shared.
When the Rubenstein family moved to Far Rockaway they joined the White Shul which was a shul committed to Torah ideals led by Rabbi Fortman. Two years later, in 1951, when the rav passed away, the city was slowly becoming more and more modern and drifting away from Torah and mitzvos. (It must be stressed that Rav Asher himself always talked about the current Far Rockaway as an impressive place of Torah and yiras shamayim and very different than the modern place where he grew up) The shul was at a large crossroads with many of the younger members pushing to hire a Modern rabbi while the older members saw the breaches that were beginning. One of the richest members of the community was not religious and was pushing strongly for his modernization agenda. Rav Asher’s father, Rav Yirmiyahu, got up at the shul meeting and put the ringleader in his place. “This is our shul and we have worked to preserve it as a place of Torah-true yiddishkeit. That is the way that it must remain.” With that, he motioned for the ringleader to be thrown out so he would be stopped from sabotaging the shul’s spiritual growth. The people were very moved by this plea and ended up voting to hire Rabbi Raphael Pelcovitz as their spiritual leader, a man whose presence and influence had a profound impact on the spiritual growth of the community. He had learned at Chevron Yeshiva and Torah V’Daas and was a strong advocate for kedusha and shemiras haTorah in the community (Mi Yaaleh).
When Rav Asher turned 70 years old, he called all of his family together for a special gathering to give thanks to Hashem for reaching the age of seiva. He made a siyum on Shas for the occasion. During the meal he spoke very emotionally and shared that the Shas he used and held in his hands had special significance to him. “Before I reached my bar mitzvah, my father called me aside and asked me what gift I wanted in honor of the occasion. He said he was prepared to get me an expensive bike if I wanted. I thought about it and told him, ‘I don’t need a bike; instead I want a set of Shas, something meaningful.’ This is the set of Shas which I have bisiatah disishmaya learned from and been zocheh to use. I had it bound a few years back and probably paid more for the binding than the original price of the whole Shas. But this is what I chose instead of a bike and this is my pride and joy (Mi Yaaleh).”
Rav Asher loved Torah and talmidei chachaim. Time and again we saw how many gedolim he was connected with and how much respect he gave them. He held Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel zt”l in the greatest esteem. He called him, “the greatest marbitz Torah of the 21st century.” In a hespid Rav Asher said, “Rav Nosson Tzvi came from a modern Chicago home (crying). He came from an illustrious family, but his parents were modern Orthodox; he went to a co-ed school. He came to Eretz Yisrael the same time that I did. He was in Mir and I went to Ponevezh. He made a life for himself. He knew Kol HaTorah Kula and had the zechus of over 7000 people learning Torah in his yeshiva. Look at what we can learn from him and look how much we can accomplish for Hashem. Whenever I saw him, I just melted by his tzidkus and greatness. What an amazing person, what a warm and loving neshama. Look what we are now missing.”
Rav Asher often told over that his life changed forever when he came to learn in Ponevezh for one year at age 17. After completing his one year of learning, his parents told him to come home for his younger brother’s bar mitzvah and to get a profession. He was at a crossroad. On the one hand, how could he miss his brother’s bar mitzvah; on the other hand he was growing in his learning, and he knew that once he went home, his parents would never let him come back and he would not be able to continue his learning. Off to Brooklyn College he would be sent to become the lawyer that his mother hoped him to be. Rav Asher took this shaila to the Ponevezher Rav whom he had grown close to over the past year. The Rav told him that he must not leave the yeshiva if he wants to become great in Torah. “What will I tell my parents about missing the bar mitzvah?” “I am fundraising in America in a few months,” replied Rav Kahanaman, “I will visit your family as your shaliach and wish a mazel tov for you.”
And so it was. Rav Asher stayed and shteiged and the Ponevezher Rav visited the Rubenstein home. He gave the bar mitzvah boy a warm kiss on the head, wished him a mazel tov from his brother in Eretz Yisrael and gave him a birchas Kohen. The Rav made sure to tell Asher Zelig’s parents about what a zechus it is for them to have a son who is so special and growing in Torah. With all this, Asher Zelig’s mother was still not satisfied and so she asked, “what will be with his parnasah?” Rav Kahanaman replied, “if he stays in learning he will become a great talmid chachom and a talented marbitz torah.” She was still not satisfied, “will he be as great as you?!” “Maybe even greater!” the rav responded with a smile. (Rav Asher used to add, “one is allowed to lie to bring about peace” whenever he told this story.)
That visit made a great impact on the entire family and left Rav Asher’s parents with a deep appreciation and feelings of satisfaction regarding their son. Rav Asher always stated that even though the decision not to go home for the bar mitzvah was a difficult pill for him to swallow, he had the foresight to latch onto Daas Torah and listen to his rebbe. In retrospect, Rav Asher said it was probably one of the most important decisions he ever followed in his life and it opened the door for him to true Torah learning. “Had I not listened to my rebbe, and instead left, the course of my life would have been very different, I would have lost out and been a nobody!”
It is my personal opinion that Rav Asher himself learned to emulate his rebbe and was always interested in talking with the parents of his talmidim to give them reassurance and to tell them how much their sons were shteiging and how they would be great. Whenever he visited a city, he always made sure to visit the parents of his talmidim and to send them warm regards and to report on how their children were developing into true bnei Torah. Parents recounted that many of these visits caused them to support their son’s efforts to stay in learning for years, decades and some even for a lifetime.
Rebbe taught us what Daas Torah is and how to connect with our gedolim. The posuk in Yechezkel (33:7) states, “tzofeh nissaticha l’bais yisrael, you are the tower watch guard for the nation.” Malbim explains that the leaders of the nation are called the tower watch guards because imagine a watch guard sitting atop the tower and performing his job. Suddenly, he sees an enemy ambush forming in the distance and so the guard climbs down and begins to warn the people and mobilize the troops. One man stands up to object. “I disagree with the tower guard, I’m looking from here and I don’t see anything! So why are you all frantically listening to him?!” The entire city will laugh at him and call the objector a fool. The watch guard had the optimal view from upon the tower and his warning is vital to their survival. This, explains Malbim, is why the prophet and all our leaders are called the tower watch guards, because they see from on high, what we cannot see from down below. When we listen to our gedolim, we are hearing their advice and recommendations emanating from a higher place and clearer view. If we don’t see it their way from our limited access and handicapped vision, we would be a fool not to follow their advice. This is what Rav Asher hammered into our every fiber. Rav Asher would always quote the Mesilas Yesharim and compare the gedolim to the people who stand above the labyrinth and give directions to us who are lost in the maze.
To Emulate Hashem
The Midrash tells us that when Hashem created Adam, man was so holy and pure that the angels saw him and thought he was God. They began to say “kaddosh” to him. This Midrash is obviously expressing secrets of Torah, but the simple explanation is that man’s goal is to emulate Hashem; just as Hashem is holy, so too we must be holy. As the Nefesh HaChaim (I:9) explains that man is greater than the angels in the sense that man has the power to have his actions impact the higher worlds. When we do mitzvos and study Torah we bring life and goodness to ourselves and to the world. Our job is to be holy and to imbue our life with a commitment to holiness and a separation from earthly distractions. When I watched Rav Asher, I saw him as acting as that “kaddosh.”
In the shachris tefillos on Shabbos and Yom Tov there is a paragraph which precedes Yishtabach. The paragraph states, “b’fi yesharim tishalal, By the mouth of the upright You (Hashem) are praised; by the words of the righteous You are blessed; by the tongues of the devout shall you be exalted and amid the holy You are sanctified.” What are these four levels?
Rav Shraga Feivel Mendelowitz explains a beautiful idea here. These four categories are in ascending order, each holier than the one before it. The higher the person, the more meaningful the praise that he gives Hashem. Thus, yesharim, the lowest level, give praise to Hashem with their mouths and then the tzaddikim, the next level up, praise Hashem with actual words. Next, the chassidim use utterances of their tongues to extol Hashem. Finally, the highest level is “bekerev kedoshim tiskadash, the holy one’s very existence gives praise to Hashem.” The holy person goes through life serving Hashem and his every action is a sanctification of Hashem’s great name without even requiring words. This explanation expresses who rebbe was. His existence was the embodiment of kedusha, holiness.
Similarly, the Ksav Sofer explains the posuk of (Devarim 34:1) “Vayeilech Moshe vayidaber ais hadevarim haeileh…, and Moshe went and told over the words of Hashem to the Jews,” to be stating that Moshe’s actual halicha, walking, his hanhagos and actions, taught the Jews how to serve Hashem. This aptly described how rebbe learned from his rabbeim, by soaking in their actions and how he therefore became the same source for us to learn from. His actions taught us how to serve Hashem. We strive to emulate his example.
For most normal people, we go through the year and when it comes time for Elul and the Aseres Yemei Teshuva, we start to take life a little more seriously. We realize that we are being judged and we begin to be more introspective. The climax of this seriousness comes on Yom Kippur when we stand before Hashem as angels. From the five years in which I was zocheh to spend with Rav Asher I personally experienced him to be deeply tuned into life and the importance of our every moment. I felt that his everyday living was on the level of our Elul and Aseres Yemei Teshuva and that his Aseres Yemei Teshuva was on the level of our Yom Kippur. He was always encouraging us to think about our purpose in this world and what we are here to accomplish. This was what he was all about. It was strong, powerful and sobering and for many of us teens this was not pleasant news, but when we saw how focused he was on emes and when we saw how happy he was and how much he enjoyed life, we had to take a second look and consider the valid points he was making.
His perspective and guidance was always from a more global view. He constantly reminded us to daven and turn to “The Kadosh Baruch Hu” for help. He wanted us to know that only Hashem can help us. He cared deeply and would daven for us, but Hashem is the source for everything.
His Passion For Torah
The last time that I saw rebbe, he shared with me an interesting story about a friend of his who is a famous rosh yeshiva. That rosh yeshiva had a close childhood friend who learned together with him but their paths had split when the friend became a doctor, specializing in neurosurgery. The two of them met up again years later and talked in learning and about medicine. The brain surgeon was impressed with the rosh yeshiva’s Torah and medical knowledge and shared a few clinical cases with him. To his surprise, the rosh yeshiva has some useful suggestions. (I want to add that this story is not about the Chazon Ish in the 1930s-40s and the brain surgeon, this is about two people in the 21st century.) The surgeon was drawn to daven and learn with his old friend whenever he was free to do so.
One day, the surgeon approached the Rosh Yeshiva and told him, “this is an x-ray of a grave case which is very complex and problematic, my colleagues and I are baffled and don’t know if we can help him.” The Rosh Yeshiva examined the x-ray, asked a few questions for clarification and then went on to give a brilliant medical solution. The surgeon was floored. He went back to his colleagues and they agreed that this approach was amazing and viable. The surgery was successful and the surgeon returned to the Rosh Yeshiva and asked, “that was amazing, you’re not even a doctor and look what you know!” “Yes, my friend,” replied the rosh yeshiva, “the day that I dropped out of medical school, the world lost a great brain surgeon and gained a rosh yeshiva; the day that you dropped out of yeshiva, the world gained an expert neurosurgeon and lost a great rosh yeshiva!”
Rav Asher taught us to value Torah. He understood that not every single one of his talmidim would sit and learn or teach Torah all day, but he set the bar high and encouraged each one of us to dedicate time each day to learn and to make Torah and mitzvos the focus of our lives. He wanted us to instill yiras shamayim and simcha in ourselves and in our families. Rav Asher taught us that even one moment of learning in the beis midrash was a priceless gem. If you consulted with him about leaving the yeshiva or kollel he would say, “I can talk with your parents, can you stay for one more year? How about until Pesach? How can you leave before Elul?” He wouldn’t stop until he got you to commit to learn more. Torah was so precious to him, even one extra day, week or month was a victory in his eyes. Many talmidim fell into the Toras Simcha “trap” after coming to Eretz Yisrael for one year and agreeing to stay one more year and then one more and then again….
The Midrash Rabbah (Bereishis 65:18) tells over the story of a Jewish rebel named Yosi Mashesa who was around at the time that the Romans destroyed the Beis Hamikdash. Yosi didn’t care about Torah and wanted to make sure the enemy knew that he was on their side and so he was more than happy to comply with their request to go inside the Beis Hamikdash, into the Kodesh and to carry out the Menorah. The Midrash concludes with a strange ending. Yosi went in, took out the Menorah, but he came out a changed man. He was so sad by his actions, that he repented and refused to follow any further enemy orders. He ended up being executed by the enemy al Kiddush Hashem.” What transpired here? How did this rebel and lowly person suddenly become a tzaddik? The Ponevezher Rav explains that the small time that this man spent inside the Beis Hamikdash stirred his soul so greatly that by the time he walked out he was a different person! That is the power of the mikdash and its impact. The Rav concluded with a message that his talmid Rav Asher passed on to us, “the power of sitting in the beis midrash, our mikdash, our place of kedusha, makes a profound impact on your entire life. Even one moment in the Beis Hamidrash can inspire you to turn your entire life around to live with emes.” Rav Asher afforded us that exact opportunity. He created a beis midrash where you were uplifted and inspired for a lifetime.
Rav Asher took the two hardest topics in all of chazal and made them clear in hashkafah and practice to all those who were open to hear his divrei emes. Chazal say (Pesachim 118a) that “it is hard to bring a couple together like the splitting of the sea” and “gaining sustenance is as hard as the splitting of the sea.” These are topics which chazal themselves describe as most difficult. The Nefesh Hachaim explains that the difficulty in these matters were that they require absolute faith in Hashem and His ability to provide. Hashem reflects our actions and so if we go about getting married with bitachon then Hashem will take care of us. If we go about our parnassah, livelihood, with bitachon, then Hashem provides. However, if someone lacks bitachon, then this can cause great problems in these areas. The problem is not necessarily the inability to find a mate or money, but more tragically, finding the wrong mate or going after dirty money or thinking that success is in your hands and that you don’t need Hashem’s help. The Nefesh Hachaim explains that just as when the Jews stood at the yam suf faced with water in front, Egypt behind, wild animals on the sides, they had no where to turn, except upward, towards Hashem. Hashem said, “travel! Yisau. Show Me that you trust in Me and I will perform miracles for you.” So too, in shidduchim and parnassah, Rav Asher tried so hard to show us the pitfalls of kochi v’otzem yadi, self-reliance, without inviting in Hashem. He was totally against any of his talmidim making demands. He said, “look for a young lady who is a baalas aliya like you, who will build a home in partnership, focused on Torah, mitzvos and middos, who will grow with you and not be an anchor to bring you down. Find a job that allows you to daven with a minyan and learn as much Torah as possible. Have bitachon that Hashem will help you and you will see it all fall into place. And this is how he lived his life, when it came to finding his eizer, when it came to learning and teaching Torah in Eretz Yisrael and when it came to raising and marrying off his children and his talmidim. His bitachon is legendary.
Rav Asher’s bitachon was so strong that he was a most appropriate teacher of these truths. His shidduch tapes are known worldwide and have been a vital guide to boys, girls and parents going through the parsha. His advice was years ahead of his time in his warning against marrying for ulterior motives such as money, fame or looks. He used to meet with his talmidim before they began dating and say, “daven to the Kadosh Baruch Hu to guide you, otherwise, you don’t stand a chance. Regarding gashmiyus, what are you ready to be mivater? But regarding ruchniyus, don’t budge an iota. Do you think that I would be anything without my wife, without her I would be a nobody! A good wife is everything.” When a talmid got engaged, Rav Asher’s speech to him and the kallah would be about building a home with kedusha and inviting the Shechina in. He would try to attend every talmid’s wedding and would remind the couple to grow in Torah and middos and to bring simcha into their homes. He would be there for talmidim throughout any questions they had in shalom bayis, chinuch and any life decision. If you didn’t call him back to tell him the outcome of a decision you were processing, he would call you back himself a few days later to check in and say, “the Rebbetzin and I have been davening for you, did you have the siata dishmaya to gain clarity? How is everything working out for you?” You felt his love and true concern. That love was mutual.
Everything about Rav Asher was shocking and awakening. When he entered the room, you felt his presence. When he spoke words of Torah, it was with a thunder and boom. He wasn’t afraid to say anything. He feared only one thing, Hashem, and in proportion to that fear, that burning Yiras Shamayim, he was fearless when it came to anything else. He taught us by example to be great and to never focus on our limitations. His goal and mission was to “boin Torah, to build Torah” and to establish a family and talmidim who were true ovdei Hashem. Everything about rebbe was with a kol rash gadol, a boom. His aliyah in Torah, his decision at age 17 to dedicate his life to Torah, his decision at 24 to move with his wife to Eretz Yisrael and raise their family there and his decision a few years later to share that which he learned from his chosheveh rabbeim as a rebbe himself. Rav Asher was the shofar that Rambam describes in Hilchos Teshuva, he trumpeted loudly and eloquently to wake up those slumbering in life, to turn our hearts and minds to Hashem and he did so with a kol gadol vilo yasaf, a powerful impact with lessons so provocative that they could not be ignored.
In a sense, even his passing was with a boom, it was shocking and sudden and caught everyone’s attention. It made an indelible impact on us about the frailty of life. It came suddenly and with great shock. I knew him for 13 years and I thought he was in the prime of his life. His passing jolted us and only amplified his loud message of life’s purpose and our true priorities. Let us close our eyes and hear his voice which still echoes in our hearts and minds. Let us hear his begging and prodding us to become great as he did each time we interacted with him. The fact that I am crying as I write these words is testimony to the great rebbe that he was and what a profound impact he had on my life.
Remembering His Essence
“V’heyisem kedoshim leilokeichem,” Rav Asher taught us by example and he challenged us to live a life filled with truth. His life to me was the pursuit of becoming a kaddosh, a holy person. I remember the tune he used when he said those words, how he closed his eyes and how he enunciated each letter, “viiiheyiiiiisemmm keddddoshimm leilokeiiichemmm….” the longing and the aspiration, oh to be holy, to live a life of purity. That is how I remember my rebbe and his essence. That is the legacy he left for me. That is why I think of him every single day.
Yhi Zichro Baruch.
The talmidim have undertaken a number of projects regarding transcribing our rebbe’s Torah and completing a Sefer Torah in his honor, to participate please contact the author at: firstname.lastname@example.org.