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My Machberes

Rav Belsky’s Homecoming

On Thursday, May 31, a joyous event unfolded in front of a modest home in Kensington, Brooklyn. The roshei yeshiva, administrative staff, and students of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath gathered to welcome home Rabbi Chaim Yisroel Belsky, shlita, revered rosh yeshiva of Torah Vodaath; kashrus authority for the OU; one of America’s foremost poskim (to whom questions of halacha are directed from all over the world on a daily basis); author of Shulchan Halevi, Einei Yisroel, and Piskei Halachos; and rav of Camp Agudah.

Roshei yeshiva waiting at Rabbi Belsky’s home.

His recovery from a serious illness had been accompanied by the earnest tefillas of all of Klal Yisrael. The crowd burst into song and dance upon Rabbi Belsky’s appearance.

On Monday, June 4, at 11 a.m., the roshei yeshiva, maggidei shiur, chavrei hakollel, bachurim and young talmidim were all in front of the yeshiva to greet Rabbi Belsky with music and dance as they escorted him back into the beis medrash. The intensity of emotion was overwhelming. Many cried tears of joy as they sang and danced.

* * * * *

Late Motzaei Shabbos Yisro, February 11, Rabbi Belsky had undergone corrective surgery for a ruptured esophagus and collapsed lung. Tehillim and tefillas were recited for Yisroel ben Chana Tzirel.

Thursday, February 16, was designated by the yeshiva as a day of learning dedicated to the recovery of the rosh yeshiva. Due to complications, additional surgery had been scheduled for that day. The special learning seder in the yeshiva that had been designated for that evening as a zechus l’refuah now assumed even greater importance. A special phone line was set up for information regarding the rosh yeshiva’s recuperation.

Talmidim at the steps.

On February 22, based on the news that Rabbi Belsky’s condition had become critical, an emergency call to all of Klal Yisrael was issued for everyone to immediately be mispallel. The 24-hour period that followed was critical and carefully monitored.

On Thursday, February 23, the Torah world was gratified to learn that the rosh yeshiva had experienced a stable night. His condition remained critical and everyone was urged to continue davening and to perform mitzvahs as a zechus for a complete and immediate refuah.

On that Thursday morning, at kriyas haTorah, the name Chaim was added as the traditional hoped-for harbinger of a full recovery. Tehillim and tefillas were thereafter continuously recited for Chaim Yisroel ben Chana Tzirel in yeshivas and shuls throughout the world. Every step of recovery was shared and celebrated.

That evening, a special Tehillim teleconference was arranged through the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation. An urgent kinnus Tehillim was held at Agudas Yisroel Bais Binyomin (Agudah of Avenue L). Immediately prior to the Tehillim recital, Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, rav of the shul, and Rabbi Yisroel Reisman, rosh yeshiva Torah Vodaath and rav of Agudas Yisroel Zichron Chaim Zvi of Madison, delivered messages of inspiration.

In Israel, talmidim of the yeshiva gathered together on Friday morning, Rosh Chodesh Adar, February 24, at the Kosel HaMaaravi to recite all of Tehillim for a refuah for Rabbi Belsky. A call was issued for as many people as possible to join the Tehillim event. Rabbi Efraim Glassman, s’gan menahel of the yeshiva, was in Israel at the time and helped organize the kinnus. Simultaneously, Lakewood alumni of Torah Vodaath gathered for Tehillim and learning.

The rosh yeshiva speaks to well-wishers.

On Motzaei Shabbos Terumah, February 25, Khal Bnei Torah (Rabbi Benzion Schiffenbauer’s shul) held a Tehillim kinnus and the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation had a Tehillim teleconference led by Rabbi Lazer Ginsberg. In addition, kinusei tefillah for a refuah shelaimah were held at Agudas Yisroel Bais Binyomin (Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, rav); Beis Medrash Ohr Gedalyahu (Rabbi Dovid Stamm, rav); Khal Bnai Avrohom Yaakov (Rabbi Moshe Bergman, rav); Khal Bnei Torah (Rabbi Benzion Schiffenbauer, rav); and Kollel Bnei Torah (Rabbi Yosef Eisen, rav)

On March 2 a report circulated concerning real progress in Rabbi Belsky’s condition. The community was encouraged to continue being mispallel that the rosh yeshiva would have a speedy and complete recovery.

The yeshiva’s Purim chagiga, ordinarily a lively affair, was held after Ta’anis Esther instead of Purim night, “reducing somewhat the level of simcha in light of the medical condition of the rosh hayeshiva.”

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