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Mesoras Rav Moshe: Rav Michel Shurkin Shares An Insider’s View

Rabbi Yehuda Heimowitz

Rav Michel Shurkin does not consider himself worthy of eulogizing Reb Moshe, nor of praising him. But he does have mesorahs from Reb Moshe to relay to the public, culled from more than a quarter century in Reb Moshe’s shadow. While Rav Shurkin shares insight into Reb Moshe’s approach to the public and to psak halachah, he reveals an insider’s view of Reb Moshe’s passionate effort to defend and cling to mesorah, and his efforts to validate the way Klal Yisrael has done things in the past.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Rav Michel Shurkin is not a man who has time for interviews. A consummate masmid who, talmidim relate, will not miss night seder in Yeshivas Toras Moshe in Yerushalayim for his own children’s sheva brachos, he seemed an unlikely candidate to spend time discussing his rebbi, Rav Moshe Feinstein, ztz”l. Why would the rebbi who is so devoted to his talmidim that he once flew in to America for a simchah and returned to yeshivah directly from the airport so that he wouldn’t miss more than one day of shiur spare an hour for us?

As if reading my mind, Rav Michel answers that question as soon as I arrive at his Har Nof apartment. “I’m not worthy of eulogizing Rav Moshe, or of giving you a biography of him. But I have mesorahs [traditions] from Rav Moshe that I feel obligated to relay to the public.

“This is a mesorah session,” he concludes, spelling out the ground rules. “It’s not an interview or a hesped.”

In those words, Rav Michel has encapsulated the purpose of his monumental work, Megged Givos Olam, in which he chronicles his memories of several gedolei Yisrael with whom he was fortunate to share a relationship. While full of stories, the sefer is a work in mesorah, in which a reader feels each gadol’s persona and views — both in halachah and hashkafah come to life through the lens of a devoted talmid. In our time together, Rav Michel shares the mesorah he gleaned from over a quarter of a century in Rav Moshe’s shadow.


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