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With Fire and Song

Refoel Pride

How can a shiur compete with the gadgets and thrills of secular society? How can a yeshivah build mentschen in a me-first world? Rav Shmuel Brazil, the renowned composer who is also rosh yeshivah of Zeev HaTorah in Jerusalem, shares a few of the chinuch secrets that he learned from his own rebbi, Rav Shlomo Freifeld ztz”l.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

rabbi brazil“This whole pond was built by the bochurim,” says Rav ShmuelBrazil. “From scratch.”

RavBrazilis gesturing toward a small pool, complete with burbling fountain and darting goldfish, constructed in a corner of the garden outside his yeshivah, Zeev HaTorah, inJerusalem’s Ramat Eshkol neighborhood. It seems almost impossibly idyllic on this pleasant spring day.

“Incredible, no? We want to instill the idea that the yeshivah is their place, and they should take pride in it. It’s a zchus for them. It turns the mirrors into windows. We want to turn them away from looking at themselves. But we want to keep the same glass.”

Since opening the yeshivah for Elul zman in 2009, Rav Brazil has been plying the trades he has honed over four decades: building bochurim from the inside out, and composing the haunting niggunim that grace Jewish homes around the globe. Rav Brazil is a living link in a chain of mesorah that winds back through his rebbi, Rav Shlomo Freifeld ztz”l, to Rav Freifeld’s rebbi, Rav Yitzchak Hutner ztz”l. At Yeshivas Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin, Rav Hutner transmitted his unique blend of the best of the chassidish and litvish worlds to Rav Freifeld, who built those teachings into the very foundations of his Yeshivas Sh’or Yoshuv in Far Rockaway. Rav Freifeld in turn appointed Rav Shmuel Brazil as a chief apprentice to help implement his groundbreaking program for baalei teshuvah called Tal Techiya.

Rav Brazilhas now been given the chance to bring this mesorah to a new generation. The name of his yeshivah, Zeev HaTorah, speaks volumes about his outlook: ziv means brilliance, radiance, or splendor, and his stated goal is to present to his talmidim the “wow” of Torah. His journey over the last 40 years has shown him that the approach pioneered by Rav Hutner, and carried on by Rav Freifeld, has never been timelier than right now.


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