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When The Reels Began To Roll

Rabbi David Yosef Schlossberg

With the proliferation of Torah lectures on iPods, mp3 players, CDs, and the almost-extinct cassettes, it is hard to recall the days when we could not use our time on the road or doing housework to grow through such recordings. But back in the Fifties, Torah tapes were a thing of the future. Recordings that would turn out to be one of earliest sets of Torah lectures released on cassette, and that continue to light a fire under those who listen to them, are those of the great mashgiach, Reb Lopian.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

 When David Yosef Schlossberg, a cousin of the deceased Rebbetzin Lopian first arrived in Yeshivah Knesses Chizkiyahu in Kfar Chassidim, Reb Elyah Lopian was not at the yeshivah. He had gone to spend a few weeks at his son-in-law Rabbi Kalman Pinski’s kollel in Tiveria. By the time Reb Elyah arrived back at Knesses Chizkiyahu, Schlossberg had already acclimated to the yeshivah.

“I’m Eliyahu Lopian,” the octogenarian said simply the first time he met Schlossberg. “I knew your grandfather.”

With those words, a “blood bond” was sealed between the two. Reb Elyah’s “hoiz bochur,” the boy who slept in the mashgiach’s hut and attended to his needs, had recently married, and after this greeting, Dovid Yosef Schlossberg immediately jumped at the opportunity to become the new hoiz bochur.

“It was not very difficult,” he recalls, “because Reb Elyah didn’t let anyone do anything for him unless it was absolutely necessary. When people would protest and say that they wanted to serve a talmid chacham, his standard response was, ‘So go find a talmid chacham to serve.’ ”

As a true talmid of Kelm (and eventually one of the leaders of that great yeshivah), where order and cleanliness were stressed, Reb Elyah’s clothes were always impeccably clean. But even when in his eighties, at which point he was blind in one eye, he wouldn’t allow anyone to brush off his clothing or dust his hat or shoes, which were constantly gather dust in the sandy environs of Kfar Chassidim. “As long as one can do something for themselves,” he would insist, “they should not allow others to do it for them.”

But there were some things that Reb Elyah needed help with – and one of them eventually led to the preservation, and the eventual release, of many of his mussar discourses, which continue to inspire and enlighten listeners some five decades after they were recorded.

 

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