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Every Day Judgment Day

Yonoson Rosenblum

During the Yamim Noraim our attention is focused on the Beis Din shel Maalah, but our communities also need this-worldly courts, as well as dayanim who are qualified to resolve the myriad of disputes that arise throughout the year. That’s why Rabbi Yosef Fleischman is on a mission to educate the next generation of dayanim — and spread the word that “glatt yosher is glatt kosher.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

rav fleishmanI first visited Kollel Choshen Mishpat–Ohel Yosef, on the very edge of Jerusalem’s Mattersdorf neighborhood, last Chanukah, during what would have been bein hasdarim in any other kollel. Each pair of chavrusos was learning in the beis medrash, with one of the study partners reading from Shulchan Aruch, while the other hurriedly gobbled down a pre-cooked airline-style meal.

Inquiring as to whether this was the normal bein haedarim, I was told no. The kollel normally has a bein hasdarim, but since the yungeleit would be returning home early to light for Chanukah, the rosh kollel, Rabbi Yosef Fleischman, hoped to recoup some of the time lost from learning by providing lunches to be eaten in the beis medrash.

That vignette captures the first thing to know about Rabbi Fleischman: He abhors any waste of time. Not only are the bein hasdarim shorter — 45 minutes a day — but so are the bein hazmanim. The kollel, which has close to 150 yungeleit, only takes off for one week during the summer, as opposed to the customary three. Shemiras hasdarim is strictly enforced, and that does not mean simply occupying one’s seat in the beis medrash. Yungeleit know that if their head begins to droop during seder, it will not escape the rosh kollel’s notice.

They may occasionally grumble, but the yungeleit cannot complain too much because they know that Rabbi Fleischman drives himself even harder than he drives them. He is there every morning well before first seder, after a run around the outlying Telshe Stone suburb where he lives, and is almost always the last to leave at night. Fundraising for the kollel by phone begins only after he arrives home in Telshe Stone, by bus, around 10:00 p.m.

Even if one did not know it, one might easily guess from the foregoing description that Rabbi Fleischman grew up in the Breuer’s community of WashingtonHeights. But discipline and maximization of one’s time are not ends in themselves for him; they are in the service of a much bigger mission — the restoration of beis din to its former place of eminence in the Jewish world. That mission is captured in the name of the umbrella organization for all his endeavors: Institute for Dayanim.


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