Tu B’Shvat will mark the second yahrzeit of Harav Yosef Tendler zt’l, Rosh Mechinas Ner Yisrael of Baltimore, MD. Rav Tendler was one of the first ten American-born talmidim of Rav Aharon Kotler zt’l, at a time when “Lakewood” had only 24 students. Rav Aharon Kotler zt’l asked Rav Yosef to be one of the four students who assisted him in preparing his shiur, and appointed him to review the shiur for the sake of the other American-born talmidim.
When just 32 years old, Harav Tendler was appointed “temporary” menahel of Ner Israel’s Mechinah and remained in that post for 47 years. He was a brilliant teacher and charismatic role model, utterly devoted to his talmidim, molding thousands of American boys into bnei Torah. He brought the spirit of Rav Aharon Kotler zt’l to Baltimore, and inspired his thousands of talmidim to reach for higher levels in Torah and service of Hashem.
Together with the Rosh Yeshivah, Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman, and Rabbi Naftali Neuberger, Rav Tendler was instrumental in saving Iranian Jewry for Torah life during the dangerous years after the Shah’s downfall.
Rav Tendler’s greatest love was learning Torah, and he was often found, for hours on end, sitting at his desk engrossed in Torah study. During his summer vacations, he relaxed by sitting for many hours outdoors with a Gemara, excitedly focused on his learning.
An estimated 2000 or more people attended his levayah only two years ago; thousands more around the world participated via web-stream and phone hookup,. As the hesped of the Rosh HaYeshivah, Rav Aharon Feldman, shlita, reflected, very few people have made such an impact in the Torah world; Rav Tendler’s hashpa’ah (influence) on the yeshivah and on Klal Yisrael is enormous. And, as the hesped of Rabbi Sheftel Neuberger, Menahel of Ner Yisrael, and others mentioned, how poignant is it that Reb Yoseph left us on Tu B’Shvat. His peiros (fruit) he leaves behind, in addition to his beautiful family, ka”h, are hundreds if not thousands of students around the world whom he took pride in molding in the derech of Torah, avodah, and gemilus chasadim.
The riveting book is part biography and part memoir, often told in the voices of Rav Tendler himself and those who knew him during his decades at the forefront of Torah Jewry. This unique work offers an inside look at the methodology Rabbi Tendler — hailed as the “Menahel of the Menahalim” — used to inspire his students, and records the care he gave to each individual student as well as to the student’s family.
I Am Your Servant is filled with wonderful, warm, and poignant stories that give us a unique vision of a multifaceted personality, while also painting a thrilling picture of the extraordinary growth and development of yeshivah and Torah life during the last three generations.