Arguably, the individual having the greatest
influence on Torah Jewry today is the Alter of
Slobodka. The Rebbe of most of the great Roshei
HaYeshiva who rebuilt Torah after the Holocaust, his
impact is still felt. He was a man of historic proportions.
Yet, those who knew him say that his greatest wish was to
come into this world without being noticed, and leave that
way. Shunning the limelight, he ran from honor his entire
life. Yet as great as he was, in that he failed. The world
knew well of him then, and they certainly know now.
Today marks the passing of another great man,
who while not known in the league of one shaping a
generation, accomplished worlds, yet managed to succeed in
the Alter's single desire-anonymity.
Rabbi Zechariah Mines, was a Torah teacher,
par excellence, molded hundreds of talmidim and influenced
generations. As the principal of the Yeshiva of Greater
Washington in Silver Spring MD for many years, he had a
profound impact on his students, many of who are now Gedolei
Torah, and attribute their inspiration and desire to
continue in learning strictly to him.
However, my words here are not meant as a
eulogy, but as a personal sentiment-the thoughts of a Talmid
in remembering his Rebbe.
When I came to Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim at 19
years of age, I was bit unprepared. I sat down for a
faher, and within minutes, Rabbi Weiner politely said to
me, "You know we have a program for fellows like you."
(Meaning, are you out of your cotton picking mind, for even
thinking that we would accept you into this
yeshiva.). I was ushered in to meet Rabbi Mines. An
unassuming man, he took me around, found a chavrusah
for me, and took care of all of the needs of those of us who
weren't yet ready for the rigors of the Yeshiva's program.
Paitence, consistency, kindness, insightful
explanations, always smiling, always upbeat. A teacher par
excellance, he mentored us, he guided us, and inspired us.
You can do it. You can succeed. Given no honor, no accord,
he was there every day, teaching, encouraging, helping. I
don't ever remember seeing the man with anything but joy and
exuberance-a love of life, and his goal was to share that
But it was his personal avodas HASHEM
that had the strongest influence. How do you define real
Yiras Shmayaim? Was it his Shemoneh Esreh that lasted
forever? Long after the Yeshiva was finished davening (and
this was no short experience) there he was standing, feet
together-clearly in a different world. Was it his daily
cheshbon HaNefesh that was an inspiration to
watch? There he would stand, off on a side of the Bais
Medrash, during Mussar sedder, again feet together,
unmoving for a half hour or more at a time, reviewing his
day, going over what he did right and in what he could
improve. I still feel the awe of watching a man transcend
time and place, in a different world. Yet, while these were
impressive, I don't think they were the reason that he had
such a profound influence on others.
It was his extraordinary humility. The
Rosh HaYeshiva, Zt'l, taught us that when you are
in the presence of a great man and you feel
important-then you know he is humble.
As a Talmid, I can still feel the value that
Rabbi Mines placed on each person he met. The regard, the
honor the accord. He gave you the sense that you were a
person of great importance, a man who could reach the stars.
For while he shunned honor himself, he heaped on others.
While my words are way to meager to do honor
to this man, I think that that this week's Shmuz on the
Parsha is fitting memory of this man. I dedicate this
week's Shmuz on the Parsha in memory of my Rebbe, Rav
Zechariah Mines, zt'l, an Unsung Hero.
I wish you a good Shabbos,