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The Rosh Yeshivah’s Finance Minister

Shimon Breitkopf

He owns three major accounting firms, serves on the Bnei Brak city council, and is a former president of the Tax Advisors’ Office and a member of Degel HaTorah’s advisory board. But for Rabbi Yaakov Verzhbinsky, all that pales against his primary mission: Without a penny in remuneration, he’s the manager of Rav Steinman’s Orchos Torah network, responsible for thousands of students and avreichim. And no one even knows his name.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

There was no advance warning of the phone call that Purim day 17 years ago. “The Rosh Yeshivah asked me to call for you on Purim. He wants to give you a brachah.” “Are you certain the Rosh Yeshivah meant to call me?” a surprised Reb Yaakov asked. “Yes,” said the caller. “Come quickly, before shkiah.” Reb Yaakov didn’t ask too many questions. Instead, he excused himself, jumped into his car, and drove off to Rechov Chazon Ish 5, where he was surprised to receive a warm brachah from Rav Steinman for success in all of his endeavors. That would turn out to be a blunt hint for the Rosh Yeshivah’s future plans. Reb Yaakov — a sought-after tax advisor with hundreds of employees in three major accounting offices in Bnei Brak, Jerusalem, and Ashdod, and a member of the Bnei Brak city council — first met Rav Steinman a few months before that Purim, when he approached the Rosh Yeshivah for a ruling on a certain communal issue. Rav Steinman was impressed with his integrity and yiras Shamayim, and a few months later, Rav Steinman summoned him again. “I want to open a yeshivah,” he said, “and I want you to manage it.” Reb Yaakov was shocked. Sure, he understood finances, was a diligent community activist, and even a talmid chacham. But the Rosh Yeshivah had many close talmidim who would be more suited to the job. Still, he upheld his own principle: When gedolei Yisrael give an order, you don’t ask questions.

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