How Can I Tell This Secular Guy To Give Up A Great Job To Go Learn In Yeshiva?


By Rav Yitzchok Fingerer

I was in the midst of composing a very important message to a BJX student. It was not an easy message to communicate or convey. I needed conviction and boldness to send the message. It required gall, temerity and courage. Every time I felt as if I expressed myself adequately and passionately, I erased the message and equivocated sending it. I was plagued with doubt and apprehension.

Why was I so saddled with emotion and quandary?

Permit me to explain.

This Jewish young man grew up just blocks away from most of us in Flatbush; geographically in very close proximity, but religiously light years away. Raised without any religious identity, he attended Madison public high school and Brooklyn College. Bright, industrious, and ambitious, he secured a prestigious job immediately after graduating college. He was on the road to achieving the great American dream.

But there I was about to spoil his dream. I detected something unique about this young man. I observed him in our leadership classes and saw his soul aflame. The message I was attempting to send was to encourage him to take off time from his job to learn in Eretz Yisroel. But how dare I? I was well aware that having recently begun the job, he had no latitude to take a leave of absence. Who was I to suggest that he forfeit a prestigious job in pursuit of the soul?

I am ashamed to say that I saved the message as a draft and failed to send it.

“Pischu Li Pesach Kchudo shel Machat v’Ani Eftach Lachem Pesach K’Pischo Shel Ulam”. Open for Me a hole like the eye of a needle and I will open for you a hole like the entrance way to a great hall.”

To my surprise, just a few hours later I received a message from this same young man requesting an appointment for later that evening. He did not specify the agenda of the meeting. We met later that evening.

To say that I was blown away would be an understatement. I was floored and shocked. He was actually seeking advice and guidance on whether he should leave his job and go learn in Eretz Yisroel! His soul was restless, he explained.

No matter how much monetary and material gains he would accrue it would never satisfy his craving for eternity, he said.

I was looking into the eyes, peering at the soul of a modern day Avrohom, who was willing to forego safety and security and sacrifice comfort and ease for his Neshama’s potential.

He will learn in Yeshiva this Elul.

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