Saturday, April 5, 2008

Waterbury Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Aaron Kaufman, in Israel

The Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Aharon Kaufman rushed off of his airplane and collected his baggage. Rather than heading to a warm shower and comfortable bed to recover from his long flight, as most other passengers likely did; he headed directly to Yeshivas Torah Ore where he was scheduled to speak. Torah Ore, headed by Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg Shlit”a is located on busy Sorortzkin Street in the Mattersdorf neighborhood of Yerushalyim, and Rabbi Kaufman is from Waterbury Connecticut, far away. The Rosh Yeshiva had gone to Israel, for a very short stay, where he met with his old bochurim, interviewed some prospective ones, and spoke in more Yeshiva’s in those few days than most of us have ever been in over the course of one lifetime!

After leaving Yeshivas Torah Ore, he went directly on to his next destination – Yeshivas Yagdil Torah. While there he mesmerized the beis midrash with a masterful shiur klali revolving around a complex sugya in meseches kiddushin. That was Tuesday, one of the calmer days of the trip.

On Wednesday morning, Rabbi Kaufman davened shachris and ate breakfast at Yeshivas Or Yerushalyim (often affectionate referred to by it’s bochurim as OJ) and then he spoke to the entire Yeshiva, where he was once again well received. He went directly from there to Bayit Vegan where he addressed Yeshivas Tiferes Yerushalyim (“TJ”) and gave a shiur klali on Gittin daf hey. Later that day, he spoke in Yeshivas Or David (OD), and at night he closed his day with a visit and speech to Yeshivas Mikdash Melech. In some places he spoke in the sugyas that the yeshiva was learning, and in other Yeshivas, he spoke of mussar and hashkofa. There were equally brilliant and well liked, according to the reports of those in attendance.

Thurday morning, Rabbi Kaufman was to be found in Shaare Chesed, where he spoke in Yeshivas Midrash Shmuel of Rabbi Binyomin Moskovitz Shlit”a. He then headed to Ateres Yerushalyim in Ramot, (AJ) where he spoke once again.

On Firday night, at a lavish oneg shabbos hosted by one of his beloved former talmidim, who now learns in kollel, and gives Waterbury all the credit for his lifestyle choice, Rabbi Kaufman greeted many former talmidim, single and married, who made it clear to him that there is no such thing as a “former talmid.” Once a child – always a child. Rabbi Kaufman spoke to hearts of those assembled. He asked, “Why is it that in the 13 middos of Rachamim, we are told that Hashem forgives, “Pesha, and Chatah,” Which means, “willful sins, and even unintentional ones.” Certainly once we have said that Hashem forgives the intentional ones, we can know that he overlooks the unintentional!? Rabbi Kaufman explained that in some ways, unintentional sins are even worse than those that are intentional, based upon the Maharal. He taught that the essence of a person cannot be defined by every action that he makes. After all, when a person does a sin, - a willful one - as a result of the yetzer hara, it may be no more than a reflection of his level of self control, and have nothing to do with his essence. But when a person sins just as a matter of course, unintentionally without the impetus of his yetzer harah, there is some sort of indication that at the root of things, his essence may be somewhat connected to that sin. (After all, when one kills unintentionally we see it as a display if his essence, and so with any sin bishogeg.) Thus the Torah teaches us that in some way, an unintentional sin is worse than even one done deliberately! The oneg shabbos lasted past midnight, and was filled with Torah, singing, laughter, and true greatness.

On Motzai Shabbos, Rabbi Heshy Kahan of Ramat Eshkol, a former Waterbury talmid turned Posek hosted a gala malava malka where Rabbi Kaufman met with bochurim who would like to come to Waterbury for the first time, and join the chabura of bochurim who return from Eretz Yisrael to learn by Hagaon Rav Yitzchak Meir Fishman Shlit”a, and Rabbi’s Braunstein and Sonnenchein. Many bochurim attended, and many top bochurim will be coming to Waterbury after Pesach.

On Sunday, Rabbi Kaufman spoke in Yeshivat Reishit, and Netiv Aryeh in the Yerushalyim’s old city. On Monday, he spoke in Rabbi Center’s Yeshiva, in Kesher, and in Shalavim, and that night he flew home.

Over the course of the trip, he was seen in Yeshivas Beis Yisrael speaking with bochurim, and in the Mir, in long conversations with maggidei shiur, including Rav Nissin Kaplan, Rabbi Wagshal, and Rabbi Resnick.

The trip was a dazzling display of greatness – it was a change for those in Eretz Yisrael to have a glimpse of what those in Waterbury are privileged enough to witness up close, all year long.

Published in The Connecting with Waterbury page of Yated Neeman, March 2008

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