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All in Good Time

Riki Goldstein

For Rav Yehuda Zev Segal ztz”l, the Manchester Rosh Yeshivah, the most seemingly insignificant event became a mussar lesson. Twenty-five years after his petirah, talmidim still integrate those messages

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

 Mishpacha image

The Rosh Yeshivah gave life-changing shmuessen and vaadim, but every student knew that he directed the most mussar at himself (Photos: Personal archives)

T efillos in the Manchester Yeshivah were meticulous and lengthy, yet long after the last Kaddish for Maariv was over, the Rosh Yeshivah himself, Rav Yehuda Zev Segal ztz”l, would finally complete his davening. A talmid would then give the Rosh Yeshivah a ride home to 40 Broom Lane — but for the elderly sage, the ride was not a gap in the day’s schedule. He got into the car carrying a sheaf of letters to mail. Originally, the foreign boys would give their letters to a bochur named Eliezer Heilpern to mail, but one time when they brought the letters, Rav Yehuda Zev asked if he could take them. The bochurim hesitated. Surely this wasn’t kavod for the Rosh Yeshivah! But who were they to argue?

The yeshivah’s driver asked if he could go out into the cold night instead of the Rosh Yeshivah. But Rav Yehuda Zev became very animated, exclaiming, “I would give you a million pounds for this mitzvah! Posting the letters is a chesed for the bochur, and brings great joy to the faraway parents.”

Every evening, the car stopped by the red mailbox on Leicester Road, and the Rosh Yeshivah emerged. He would say “Hineni muchan u’mezuman to do a mitzvah of chesed,” and mail the letters. When he got back into the car, he would exult, “Look how Hashem gives Olam Haba away. For a little nothing, you get so much!”

Sometimes, if young Eliezer did the mailing, the Rosh Yeshivah made sure to let his talmid know that it was a big opportunity, and he should have the right intentions while doing the mitzvah. One evening, the driver forgot to stop, and the Rosh Yeshivah brought the letters home. That night, he walked from his home back to the mailbox to mail them. Another time, Eliezer, the letter-gatherer — who is today Rabbi Eliezer Heilpern, popular Torah lecturer from Manchester — had no letters to bring. The Rosh Yeshivah turned to him in disappointment: “What, you don’t have an esrog [a mitzvah] today?”

 

Every Minute a Mitzvah

Manchester is a medium-sized city in England’s northwest. In the cool month of Shevat, rain leaves the streets soaked and sidewalks shining. The water seems to trickle through every crack and crevice, leaving one’s very bones damp. Yet for the town’s venerated Rosh Yeshivah, Rav Yehuda Zev Segal ztz”l — whose 25th yahrtzeit is next week, on 22 Shevat — there was no mundane, there was no humdrum. No cracks existed in his day — every minute was a flowing stream of Hashem’s bounty and an opportunity to fulfill His wishes.

 

Inside the Rosh Yeshivah’s copy of the sefer Shemiras Halashon, which he learned during his simple meals, there was a small folded paper, containing personal resolutions for that year.

One year, a bochur got a peek. The neatly numbered list contained 15 kabbalos. Among them: “L’hishtadel shelo laasos shum maaseh, afilu katan, k’gon hashatas hayad, bli machshavah kodem — To try not to do any action, even as small as stretching out a hand, without giving prior thought.”

An outsized goal? Every single action with thought? For the Rosh Yeshivah, this seemingly unrealistic existence was within reach. Seasons did not pass him by, nor did weeks, days, or even minutes. Instead of drifting, the Rosh Yeshivah allowed Hashem’s will to shape each minute — by working to elevate each and every increment of time into a mitzvah opportunity and taking gems of mussar from every corner.

Every minute, another mitzvah. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 696)

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