(Click on images to ENLARGE them) Rav Aryeh Malkiel Kotler, rosh yeshiva of Bais Medrash Govoah, recently visited Melbourne, Australia, on a re-dedication trip honoring the Lakewood-Melbourne Kollel. Over 25 years ago, Rav Nosson Wachtfogel zt”l and Rav Shneur Kotler zt”l sent a group of yungeleit to establish the Melbourne Kollel. Though Rav Shneur never merited to actually visit the kollel, Rav Nosson Wachtfogel traveled there to be mechazeik the kollel following its founding. And this past week, Rav Aryeh Malkiel Kotler undertook a trip to provide chizuk to the kollel.
Local askan, Dr. Daniel Lanzer, spoke at the melave malka in Melbourne which saw over
300 people join together at the home of Mr. Israel Herzog. Dr. Lanzer said that the theme
of Parshas Yayigash is one of emotional reunions, first with Yosef and his brothers and
then with their father Yaakov. “The Lakewood Yeshiva and in particular the Kotler family,” he said, “are in many ways our father, the father that we have not seen for over 20 years.”
Mr. Herzog has been the major benefactor and financial supporter of the kollel since its
inception. His two sons, Reb Yossi and Reb Ruvi, ably assist him in his hachzokas haTorah.
The first stop was Dr. Lanzer’s home for a meeting with the new young committee of the kollel, the Kinderman brothers, who had learnt in the Philadelphia Yeshiva, and Mordechai Benedict, a talmid of the Lucern Yeshiva and then Yeshivas Mir, who were very involved, together with Dr. Lanzer, in making the trip a success.
The first visit was to the home of the morah d’asra of the local Adass kehillah, Rav Beck. Rav Beck, a Vishnitzer chossid, leads a community of some 500 families. The community boasts a large vibrant cheder, a yeshiva ketana, a Bais Yaakov and a seminary. Rav Beck gave his welcoming bracha and made a point of insisting that he come to the Rosh Yeshiva’s “home” when it was time to say farewell.
In a 72-hour visit, the Rosh Yeshiva spoke publicly on 13 occasions and gave individual time to many people. The first drasha was to young cheder children from the Yesodei
HaTorah school. The Rosh Yeshiva explained the meaning of why one is considered “lazy”
if he does not learn Torah. The essential point was that we need to value Torah appropriately and then we all would find it easy to learn.
His last drasha was to the yeshiva ketana boys, who enjoyed every moment with the Rosh Yeshiva. The Rosh Yeshiva spoke in the kollel and delivered two in-depth shiurim to the community.
Sunday afternoon, at the kollel’s country retreat estate, the Rosh Yeshiva spoke to a group of South African families who have found their place in the kollel. The finale was in a shul hall where over 400 men and women gathered.
The mutual respect between the Rosh Yeshiva and the rosh kollel, Rav Binyomin
Wurzburger, was quite obvious to the Australians. Rav Wurzburger has led the learning
in the Melbourne Kollel since its inception. Rav Wurzburger’s role in Melbourne is both as rosh kollel and as the Litvishe rov. He paskens and gives his personal guidance to the community at large. The Rosh Kollel showed the letter of encouragement written by Rav Shneur Kotler zt”l, before his arrival 26 years ago. At one point, Rav Wurzburger had hesitations about moving to Melbourne and Rav Shneur banged on the table with his fist, saying, “I will take personal responsibility that you will be matzliach in Australia.”
It was his foresight that led to the tremendous growth of Torah and kavod haTorah
through the Rosh Kollel in Melbourne.
The yungeleit in the kollel were deeply involved in the shiurim of the Rosh Yeshiva. Melbourne has yungeleit from every continent in the world. Besides the local Australians and the New York yungeleit, others who have moved to Melbourne come from England, Israel, Belgium and South Africa. In the final moments of the Rosh Yeshiva’s trip, he summarized his feelings of the Melbourne Kollel. The Rosh Yeshiva said, “I always knew that we have a worldclass rosh kollel and yungeleit on the highest level of learning, but having seen the full Reb Yisroel (Izzy) Herzog with the Rosh Yeshiva. I now realize that Melbourne is different than many of the kollelim that have opened in the world. The Melbourne community is strong and shtark in all its aspects and it is like living in either Lakewood or Yerushalayim.”
The Rosh Yeshiva explained that the chareidi community is active and vibrant, thereby producing two chadorim, two Melbourne kollellim and a yeshiva ketana. As a way of example, he referred to the high level of learning of the Melbourne children. One child had just celebrated his bar mitzvah with the siyum of a mesechta Gemara.
The Lakewood-Melbourne Kollel is currently working on bringing a new chaburah of 10-20 yungeleit to join the 20 who currentlylearn there full-time.
(Source: Yated Ne’eman)