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"So, You’re Frum?"

Yisroel Besser

Thirty years ago people expected Ponevezh protégé Rav Moshe Goldstein to become a rosh yeshivah. They just didn’t think it would be that kind of yeshivah. But Sha’arei Yosher didn’t disappoint him or his mentor, Rav Shach, and three decades later Rav Goldstein is still fresh and inspired — but with one stipulation for the changing times, to insure he has open hearts to work with: mind-numbing Smartphones are banned. Because if you’re plugged in, you’re out.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The term “Shabbos clothes” is relative. If it means starched white shirts and pressed suits, then the bochurim in Sha’arei Yosher weren’t dressed for Shabbos. But if it means nicer than the weekday, with a clear attempt made at keeping button-down shirts tucked in, then they were Shabbosdig indeed.

Kabalas Shabbos had just started, and while a small minyan near the chazzan davened earnestly, many of the talmidim sat gathered around tables chatting. Others read books and a few sat by themselves, contemplating one thing or another.

But then, moments before Lecha Dodi, a current seemed to zip through the room, a palpable sense of anticipation. Chairs shifted, bochurim sat up a bit straighter, many rising to their feet.

Oy oy oy oy Lecha dodi …” The sound was full; everyone in the beis medrash joined to welcome the Shabbos. It was as if come the Seventh Day, it made no difference who they were, or where they’d been, during the previous six.

Sitting with Sha’arei Yosher’s rosh yeshivah, Rav Moshe Goldstein, I reminisce about my Kabalas Shabbos experience at this unusual yeshivah inJerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood. “Yes,” he agrees, “Shabbos is special by us.”

Then he reaches into his briefcase and hands me a CD. Produced by the yeshivah, it features various Shabbos niggunim sung by the bochurim themselves. Later, when I put the CD into the player, I could still hear the same enthusiasm and vibrancy I’d experienced that Friday night. In their song, white shirts or stripes make no difference — what you hear is the eternal, unbreakable bond between each individual Jew, wherever he is, and his Creator.

And while Rav Goldstein isn’t in the music industry, he is in the business of revealing that bond, the force of a neshamah being prodded to wake up.

 

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