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RABBI SHAIFER, THE SHMUZ

In Memory of an Unsung Hero
By: Rabbi Shafier, TheShmuz.com        

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 with others.

 

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,

 

Rabbi Shafier

--

Please visit R' Shafier's homepage:  www.TheShmuz.com.


 
   
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