Rav Eliezer Sorotzkin, the head of Chinuch Atzmai in Israel, spoke to the Rosh Yeshivah, HaGaon HaRav Gershon Edelstein, on Monday on various chinuch issues ahead of a conference for principals of girls’ schools, including how to understand the Meron disaster.
HaRav Sorotzkin: A terrible tragedy occurred to all of Klal Yisrael as well as specifically to Chinuch Atzmai. We have one teacher who lost her husband and a teacher who lost her son and some lost their brothers. Everyone is asking: what do we say to the teachers, what do we say to the students? And what we can we be mechazeik in? What kabbalah can we accept?
Rosh Yeshivah: There’s a Gemara in Kesuvos – חשיב את לאתפוסי אדרא [you’re worthy to be taken for the generation]. The generation needs chizzuk. In order that the dor will be mechazeik, they take the tzaddik. The tzaddik is taken for the sins of the generation. The tzaddik wants to be mezakeh the dor through teshuvah. When [the tzaddik] is niftar, the dor is misorer [wakes up].
HaRav Sorotzkin: So it was something to benefit the dor?
Rosh Yeshivah: Yes. They [the niftarim] were mezakeh the rabbim [the public]. It’s the zechus of the tzaddik, the tzaddik benefits from it, that he’s mezakeh the rabbim.
Rav Sorotzkin: And this concept is a way to reassure the students and teachers?
Rosh Yeshivah: Yes. These niftarim awaken us to do teshuvah, they atone for the generation. There was a story that happened with the Chofetz Chaim, he had a son-in-law, a young man, Rav Tzvi Hirsch Levinson, and he died young. His daughter asked her father, why did he die, wasn’t he a tzaddik? The Chofetz Chaim told her: ‘There was a gezeirah on the dor and he atoned for the dor through his death! This is his zechus, he was mezakeh the dor through his death.'”
HaRav Sorotzkin: בקרובי אקדש…
Rosh Yeshivah: בקרובי אקדש, כן, נכון.
HaRav Sorotzkin: But they are asking- what you’re saying is reassuring – but they’re asking – they all want to take something on, to accept a kabbalah.
Rosh Yeshivah: Yes, we need to wake up, that’s correct – in shemiras halashon and in kapida – not to be makpid with others, so there won’t be a kapida. That I shouldn’t be makpid with others and other shouldn’t be makpid with me. To appease others so they shouldn’t have any kapida – ahavas habriyos.
HaRav Sorotzkin: Maybe it wasn’t just stam that it happened by Rebbe Shimon [the kever of Rav Shimon Bar Yochai] – where talmidim who didn’t act respectfully toward each other died. Maybe this teaches us…
Rosh Yeshivah: Yes, correct. They didn’t act respectfully.
At this point, the conversation about the tragedy ended and Rav Sorotzkin switched the topic to various chinuch issues.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)