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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Lubavitcher Rebbe saved Yeshiva Torah Vodaas from Foreclosure


Image result for rebbe rayatz


Image result for shraga feivel mendlowitz
The Rayatz saved Yeshiva Torah Vodaas from Foreclosure

by Rabbi Shmuel Knopfler

The famed Yeshiva Torah Vodaas in New York, originally located in Williamsburg, now in Kensington. Over the years, the yeshiva expanded from what was once only an elementary school, graduating hundreds of rabbanim and mechanchim, roshei yeshivos, and directors of yeshivos
and mosdos chesed.

R’ Shraga Feivel was a most unusual and multi-faceted individual. He was an eclectic scholar who loved Chassidus. He even gave classes in Tanya, despite the fact that his yeshiva was Litvish.

At the same time, he was no Chassid of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Rebbe Rayatz, and was quite upset when students of his yeshiva transferred to Yeshivas Tomchei Tmimim. This was in contrast to his unprecedented and unique policy of sending his best talmidim to other yeshivos simply to support the other yeshivos and
promote their growth.

Shortly before his passing on 3 Elul 5748, R’ Shraga Feivel was quite ill. After being informed by his doctors that he had only a short time remaining, a select group of his friends, rabbanim, and roshei yeshivos organized a sort of farewell at his bedside. At the gathering, much to everyone’s surprise, R’ Shraga Feivel asked to speak. What he was about to reveal had never been told before; now he wanted others to hear his amazing tale as he did not wish to take the secret with him to the grave…

During World War II, the economy was in a depression. The Torah world, which had just begun to blossom in America, and which was based primarily on the donations of wealthy businessmen, was in grave danger.

“For many months I somehow managed by borrowing money from anyone I possibly could to make sure the yeshiva would continue to exist. The teachers had not been paid and the food the boys were served was not the best, but the learning went on, which was the main thing.

“One day I received an urgent letter from the bank. When I read it, I realized how much trouble I was in, for the director of the bank informed me that the yeshiva’s debts had ballooned to $3,000! Today that would be the equivalent of $300,000, and the ability to obtain cash during wartime was far more difficult.

The bank’s intention was to repossess the yeshiva building. All the talmidim would have to be sent away. “I only had three weeks to obtain this huge sum of money, and I knew that that was plainly impossible.

Since I didn’t see any way of saving the situation, I didn’t tell anyone what was going on, so as not to create undue panic. I had simply resigned myself to the fact that in another three weeks the yeshiva would close down.

“As I sat there in my office, crying over the fate of the yeshiva, the phone rang. The Lubavitcher Rebbe’s
secretary was on the line saying, ‘The Rebbe asked me to call you in order to ascertain the yeshiva’s general condition.’ I couldn’t understand why the Lubavitcher Rebbe was suddenly interested in my situation, and since I didn’t want to share the yeshiva’s precarious state with anyone, I dismissed him by saying that everything was in
order. “A few hours went by and the phone rang again. ‘I told the Rebbe what you said, that everything is as usual,’ said the secretary, ‘but the Rebbe said that that is not so. Please tell me what the state of the yeshiva really is.’ “Hearing this, I wanted to hang up on him. I didn’t appreciate this prying into the yeshiva’s affairs. I had no
reason to think the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s financial state was better than mine, so I certainly didn’t think he could help me. But finally, after the secretary’s repeated requests, I told him of the yeshiva’s plight and about the contents of the letter I received from the bank that day.

“A short while later, the secretary called once again. This
time he informed me, ‘The Rebbe asked me to tell you the following: In my day, no yeshiva will be closed; not in Russia and not in America!’
That was it!

“This last call really infuriated me. He forced me to give him a full report about the yeshiva’s predicament, and now he was mocking me with illogical statements that had nothing to do with the harsh reality.
There was simply no way to obtain such a tremendous amount of money, I thought to myself in growing frustration. “The next three weeks were the most difficult of my life. “From time to time, the Lubavitcher
Rebbe’s secretary called my office and asked whether the situation had changed for the better, or whether there was still a threat of the yeshiva’s closing. As the day when the money had to be paid got closer, the Rebbe asked, through his secretary, for more details about the debt.

“The deadline was on Monday. The Friday before, the Rebbe’s secretariat called again, asking where the money had to be paid and how. I was utterly appalled by this meddling, but out of respect I gave them all the information they requested. When they mentioned the Rebbe’s promise that ‘In my day, no yeshiva will be closed; not in Russia and not in America,’ I just couldn’t understand what sin I had committed to deserve this mockery.

Monday arrived. I sat hopelessly in my office, resigned to the fact that in another few hours the bank officials would arrive and close the yeshiva. There was a knock at the
door. My heart pounded as I approached the door. “As great as my fear was, my surprise was even greater when I opened the door to see – not a bank official and not a policeman, but a messenger boy with an envelope.

‘The Lubavitcher Rebbe asked me to give you this envelope,’ he said, and then left. “With trembling hands I opened the envelope and drew out dozens of hundred and twenty dollar bills. It all added up to exactly $3,000. Yes, the Lubavitcher Rebbe prevented Torah Vodaas from closing!” said R’ Shraga Feivel, to the amazement of those
gathered at his bedside.

This was a menahel who opposed the Rebbe, who even stopped his boys from going to learn at Yeshivas Tomchei Tmimim. And the financial situation of the Rebbe Rayatz at that time was extremely difficult. Nevertheless, the Rebbe made the effort to obtain the enormous sum of
money to save the yeshiva.

Similar story is told when Olomeinu a Torah Umesorah publication for children was ready to stop its publication due to lack of funds The Rebbe, Reb Menachem Mendel gave a large sum of money to continue the publication for the propagation of Torah & Judaism.

When you enter the Yeshiva Torah Vodaas there is no plaque to commemorate this event. In the hallways of the Yeshiva you have a photo gallery of all Chassidic Rebbes except that of Chabad.

When the 8th Graders graduate in Torah Vodaas graduate they go on a special trip to visit the grave of The Satmar Rebbe in Kiryas Yoel.
Visiting Rav Pam's Kever which is logistically closer is not on the agenda.

Certainly visting the Kever of Rayatz in Queens as a sign of gratitude is not part of the itinerary.

It is regrettable that there is no acknowledgment or minimum Hakoras Tov.


בברכת התורה והארץ

16 comments:

Sam Kay said...

Incredible story ...
This should be publicized in Hamodia, Yated Neeman, AMI Magazine & Zman Magazine ...

Harry said...

So the Rayat"z had ruach hokodesh. He knew clearly the secrets of the goings on even though Reb Shraga Feivel was deliberately trying to conceal them from everyone and specifically from him.

Anonymous said...

Doctor Joseph Kaminetsky in his book memorable encounters pp220 writes "a financial crisis threatened Olomeinu. Rabbi Beryl Levy, a lubavatcher chasid who worked for Torah Umesorah told the Rebbe (Rabbi Menachem Mendel) about the impending crisis. The rebbe responded by extending Torah Umesorah a loan of $1000. It was in the early days when such a sum was significant. This was an especialy generous gesture, considering that the Lubavitch movement then had their own children's publication Talks and Tales"

Sam Kay said...

The Rayatz did what is incumbent & right thing to do for a Jew ...
The Rayatz was known for his Mesirus Nefesh in Communist Russia ...
No Agenda ... Simply saving a community Yeshiva irrespective whether they agree with you or not ...
That is true genuine altruism which is very hard to find even by the the most ubiquitous & pristine Rebbes ...

Torah Coach said...

The story is true, but the editorializing is shtussim. RSF would send his bochurim to farbrengens by both the Rayatz and the Ramash (lehavdil bein chayim lechayim).

anonymous said...

Is there any documentation to support the veracity of this story?

Reality said...

And seriously who believes this? Either their are missing details that make the story sound outlandish. Or the story is a fabrication! Seriously do people believe everything they hear??

Sam Kay said...

This story has been written up for decades 30 years ago in The Morgen Journal 10 years ago in The Algemeiner Journal in yiddish ...
This story has been around but publicized much ... No one contested the story ...
There are plenty of people that would like to see this story relegated to the dust of history & not to resurface ...
When in doubt you may call up Yeshiva Torah Vodaas & the Hebrew Principal will verify it ...
There is nothing new with story ...
What is incredible is the genuine altruism of The Rayatz & The Rebbe on both cases ...
What is regrettable is the total obliviousness & ingratitude of the recipient Yeshiva ...



Anonymous said...

Hogwash, this story never happened

Reality said...

Just because its in print doesnt make it true! If you ascribe fortune telling to Rebbes and Rabbis. How then was the holocaust not avoided?

Dusiznies said...


והרי תמי׳ גדולה? ידוע שחסידי סאטמאר, כשמספרים להם איזה סיפור מצדיק, הנה השאלה הראשונה אצלם היא מי יימר שהי׳ כן ,האם בעצמך ראית זאת, וכו׳. ואעפ״כ , כשמספרים להם איזה דבר על ליובאוויטש , מקבל זה אצלם בודאות מוחלטת, מבלי שום עיון וחקירה אם זה אמת או לאו

Sam Kay said...

This story reflects the long history of Mesirus Nefesh of the Rayatz ...
No Ruach Kodesh, fortune telling or Rebbishe Nissim ...
The Rebbe was always concerned about the welfare of Jewish Chinuch in general & he understood that a communal Yeshiva must be going through hard times ...
The Rebbe was with his tenacity, persistence, perspicacity & perspicuity was able to reach out to save the Yeshiva from closing down ...
This deed is to be emulated, retold with admiration with a sign of gratitude ...

Harry said...

Sam, No Ruach Kodesh?

Then how did he know just then what was happening? The bank certainly didn't disclose to him.

Sam Kay said...

A Rebbe that is constantly vigil & concerned about the Matzav of Yidishkeit receives inside information ...
The main point is that he acted when needed to save the Yeshiva immaterial how he found out ...
Most Rebbes would not act this way even after receiving the foreclosure list from the bank ...

Paul Mendlowitz said...

This is a totally fabricated story that never ever happened. Never. Not a shred of truth to it.

Sam Kay said...

Contact Yeshiva Torah Vodaas & ask for Hebrew Principal to verify ...