For the week ending 24 April 2010 / 9 Iyyar 5770

Iyar 5770 / April 2010

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Dear Talmid,

A new zman begins!

You certainly can recall the excitement of returning to the Beis Midrash after a bein hazmanim break and looking forward to a zman of shteiging.

There is something special about the summer zman in that it begins during the days of Sefiras Ha'Omer. These are days when Klal Yisrael mourns the tragic passing of 24,000 talmidim of Rabbi Akiva. We would like to share with you some insights regarding the cause of that tragedy and the recovery which followed it.

The gemara in Mesechta Yevamos states that those talmidim died because they failed to show proper respect for each other. This seems to be a rather harsh punishment for something of such a nature. Our conclusion must be that once a person has the privilege of learning Torah there is an expectation that Torah becomes so precious to him that he values it highly even when someone else learns it. Since Heavenly justice demands more of one who has reached spiritual heights, the failure of Rabbi Akiva's talmidim to value the Torah of their colleagues was tantamount to showing disrespect for the Torah itself.

The world was desolate, says the Talmud, as a result of this sudden disappearance of such a great body of talmidei chachamim. It was only when Rabbi Akiva succeeded in discovering five new outstanding talmidim that he was able to rebuild Torah study and the world that depends on it.

The lessons for us to learn from all of this is that everyone who ever learned Torah must value the Torah of those who are today dedicating their precious years to learning and that it is such learning which sustains the world.

Ohr Somayach is currently struggling to maintain its many programs despite the global financial situation which has so affected us. With an eye to the future we have invited some of our own talmidim who now are in positions of leadership in the yeshiva to join our board.

It is our hope that you and other former talmidim will express your gratitude for the past and your appreciation of the Torah learning of the present by seriously considering what you can do to guarantee the future.

Rabbi Nota Schiller & Rabbi Mendel Weinbach
Roshei Yeshiva

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