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A Beacon from Baltimore

Yisroel Besser

As a young man of twenty, Rabbi Naftali Neuberger, ztz”l, met with Rav Yaakov Yitzchak Ruderman, and so began a “career” of taking responsibility for the world, a passion that would eventually spread light throughout the globe — from Baltimore to Iran, and from Great Neck to Panama. Remembering Rabbi Neuberger on his fifth yahrtzeit.

Monday, September 20, 2010

I sit at the table in the conference room in the yeshivah’s office building, intent on getting a picture not of Rabbi Neuberger’s accomplishments, but of Rabbi Neuberger himself, the man behind those accomplishments.

“His sense of achrayus on a personal level was apparent right away. Our grandmother, Rebbetzin Kramer, moved in with my parents the day after they completed sheva brachos, and she remained there for twenty-seven years, until her passing. That was our first lesson in achrayus,” recalls Reb Sheftel.

“There was no sense of his having a ‘zich,’ of his being out for himself,” adds Reb Shraga. “The house was wide open, his time was ‘hefker,’ free to whoever happened to be at the door or on the phone.” 

Was it difficult for the children, having a father who was essentially public property?

“Well, we enjoyed the Shabbos table with all the guests, the colorful personalities that were constantly passing through our house. We used to say that we don’t have to travel to see the world, the world comes to us.”

“Our mother gets the credit for imbuing us with an awareness of how important his work was, and we were proud of him. Whenever he traveled — which was often — she would tell us, ‘Daddy isn’t home because he is doing for Klal Yisrael.’

“And, ever-practical,” adds Reb Sheftel “she also taught herself how to drive -- a chiddush [novelty] back then -- because he was never available to do a carpool!”

Reb Shraga corrects him. “No, once Daddy had a meeting at T.A. [Talmudic Academy], and it ended just as we finished school, so he ended up giving us a ride home ...”

They both laugh.

 

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