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In the Glow of the Gadol Hador

Yisroel Besser

Reb Chaim Hirschman, the “meturgeman” charged with relaying the audience’s questions to Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv at his nightly shiur to a diverse crowd, shares his personal perspective of the Rav.

Monday, September 20, 2010

It is the end of a long work day. The men shuffle in for the Rav’s shiur and take their designated places. This one has flecks of paint on his pants and the other has glue under his fingernails, residue of another day at the shop. Some of them are shopkeepers, artisans, or professionals, fairly unsophisticated in learning, and the shiur is their daily dose. Yet on the same benches sit some of the most accomplished scholars in the city. They too look forward to the shiur as the high point in their day, though they come directly from the yeshivos and kollelim. There is a third element here: the tourists from abroad who stand, cameras poised and ready, awaiting the Rav’s entrance.

As in every shul across the globe, from shtiebel to synagogue, there are all kinds. Those who ask questions at every opportunity and those who shake their heads, making it clear that they would never ask such a question. The writers, pens moving across paper as the words flow, and the dozers, heads bobbing contentedly onto their chests.

Yes, even here, at the shiur of the gadol hador.

So the primary difference between the shiur of this Rav and rabbanim across the globe is that here, the Rav arrives to deliver the shiur directly after eighteen hours of virtually uninterrupted learning, and this shiur is his only public appearance each day. He spends the rest of his time closeted in his small room, where he benefits Klal Yisrael through limud haTorah that likely sustains a great part of the world - just as he’s been doing for the past ninety years, bli ayin hara.


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