Friday, September 19, 2014


BCC introduces the Roshei Yeshiva and welcomes everyone to the Reception

HaRav Dovid Harris, Shlitah thanks BCC for the introduction

Rabbi Nechemiah Langer, Shlitah speaking at the Reception

HaRav Dovid Harris, Shlitah and BCC

HaRav Akiva Grunblatt, Shlitah and BCC

[Photo credits: Rabbi Aryeh D. Gordon]

BCC's comments:

Thank you for coming to support the Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim. 

We are honored that the 2 Roshei Yeshiva are here tonight to bestow their Berachos on us before the Yom Hadin: HaRav Dovid Harris, Shlitah & HaRav Akiva Grunblatt, Shlitah. I wish all of you could get to meet the Roshei Yeshivah and develope a connection with them. It’ll be a great investment for your future.

I would like to share with you my personal story. I was raised as a Modern Orthodox kid who davened at the Young Israel Wavecrest & Bayswater - Far Rockaway NY. Rabbi Moshe Chait’s speeches on Shabbos were masterful, and he brought to life the illustrious mesorah and dynasty of what was known as Slabodkah Derech: The Chofetz Chaim; Reb Naftoli Tropp (the Granat); The Alter of Slabodka; Reb Yisroel Salanter; Reb Zimcha Zissel; Reb Naftali Amsterdam; but when Rabbi Chait spoke about his rebbi HaGoan Reb Dovid Leibowitz there was reverence in his voice. 

My father Rabbi Dr. Samuel Cohen (ah) was always pointing to the way Baruch Chait, Raphie Wachsman, Tippy Wachsman would daven: “watch how a ben torah davens.” My father would tell me that if I worked hard at my studies, one day you could get into a yeshiva like Chofetz Chaim. My learning in Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

Great things happened in my life while I was in the Yeshiva for 6 years, post high-school that I credit the Yeshiva; for I do not know that I would have taken the road that I traveled had it not been for the Yeshivah. During this time, I married my wife Adina. I transitioned from college to law school. I overcame an insecurity about speaking up to develop a Torah thought. I developed a confidence in learning and a comfort in attempting to be mechadesh torah. I forged close personal friendships with chavrusas and Bais Medrash bochurim back in Queens, that have stood the test of time and to this day, 30+ years later, I cherish my chevrashaff with them: Rabbi Avrohom Stulberger, Rabbi Shlomo Goldberg, Rabbi Yitzchok Summers, Rabbi Shimon Ishal, to name but a few. And there are more. 

I connected on a very deep and personal level with the Rosh Yeshivah HaGaon Rav Henoch Leibowitz.  Speaking to him privately was unlike interacting with anyone I have ever met in my life. A man with enormous insight and vision, who was able to inspire from his words and actions. I am very blessed to consider myself a Talmid of Rav Henoch Leibowitz. I do not say this out of Gayvah; but out of a sense of chashivus and hakaras hatov and for chinuch to my children. I have found myself in trying situations, asking myself, what would the Rosh Yeshiva do if he was here? And that became my GPS for life

While in the Yeshiva I learned extraordinary and lofty concepts that have sustained me and propelled me throughout my life to achieve what I hope are great things: Gadlus HaAdam; Kochos Hanefesh; Cheshbon Hanefesh; Niskatnu Hadoros; Daas Torah; Negiyos; Ameilus BaTorah, Lomdos, Koveish Yetzer Horah  Finally, that Mussar is a misunderstood word: (“I need to give you Mussar”) but rather the most beautiful tools to access what’s in the heart and to have true intimacy with Hashem.

My father loved doing a "drive-by." He worked in Manhattan and would drive through Forest Hills to get to the Five Towns. He loved stopping by the Yeshiva towards the end of Bekius seder (unannounced), crack open the door to the Bais Medrash and see me learning. (I oftentimes hoped that I was actually learning at the time my father would peer in and not be schmoozing away). 

Our great wish is that our home be a Bais Vaad LeChachamim.  When Rabbi Grunblat called and asked me to host the Yeshivah’s reception in our home, it was the opportunity to fulfil our greatest wish. We wish to state unequivocally, our firm support for the Yeshiva, both financially and spiritually.

The Navi Amos prophesied (8:11): 
Hi’ne yamim ba’im Behold, the days are coming
Ve’hishlachti ra’av ba’arets   that I will send a famine in the land
Lo ra’av la’lechem  not a famine of bread
Ve’lo tsama la’mayim  nor a thirst for water
Ki im lishmoa es divrei Hashem. but of hearing the words of Hashem.

I invoke Amos’ prophecy, because today we live in a Jewish world, blessed with incredible financial successes, in communities that cater to every possible luxury to make our orthodox lifestyles more comfortable, yet, we also see profound problems within that plague our Kehilos, that can cause us to despair. We feel an emptiness, and a raw hunger for authentic Torah values, we want to learn from Rabbonim who have an unbroken Mesorah, who are real Lamdanim, who are Baalei Mussar, & Marbuitzei Torah of the highest caliber.  By supporting the Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim we are insuring that the quality of Chinuch in America thrives into the next generation for our children. That we hear Amos’ prediction and we respond and take action to support Torah.