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How BMG Increased its Hasmadah

By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for

It was the early 1980’s.  Rav Shneur Kotler zt”l and Rav Nosson Wachtfogel zt”l were contemplating a dilemma.  It was a dilemma that struck at the very heart of how a Yeshiva must function.

The times of a Yeshiva’s sedorim are, and must always be sacrosanct. But how can this ideal be further imparted to Talmidim?  More specifically, morning seder needed chizuk.  More people needed to come on time.  What to do?

Rav Shneur and Rav Wachtfogel decided to pose the question to, “Dovid” –  one of the Bnei HaYeshiva who was particularly known for his creativity and practicality.  After a brief moment of thought, he responded, “Ich hob an aitzah. I need two weeks.”

Dovid met with Tim, a talented goy and commissioned him for the job he envisioned.  The craftsman worked diligently for two entire weeks.  Finally, he had completed the task.

Dovid gathered the workers in the yeshiva.  He requested that the very next day, if possible, they all show up far earlier then they usually did, but only for twenty minutes.  They would return later for their regular shift.  That day, they came at 4:00 AM.

They began with Phase One.  The workers operated quickly and diligently.  As soon as the first phase of the operation was complete – they locked the door.  Then Phase Two began.  All of Tim’s handiwork was brought in and carefully placed in their appropriate spots.

Davening began at its usual time.  The bochurim learned halacha seder and went to the dining room for breakfast.  Rav Shneur arrived in the Beis Midrash and saw that it was completely full, at the very beginning of the seder!

Rav Shneur approached Dovid and asked, “What did you do?  There were no shmuessim.  There were no tzetelach on the walls.  How was this change accomplished?

Dovid responded, “I switched out the chairs in the dining room with benches without backs. It is so uncomfortable, there is no desire to hang around.  Here in the Bais Medrash the chairs are far more inviting!”

Few people had noticed the change.  The only chairs that remained in the dining room were those of the Mashgiach and the Rosh Yeshiva.  And until this day, there are no chairs in the Yeshiva dining room – only benches.

Rav Gershon Edelstein zt”l once remarked that a Yeshiva with carefully observed Sedorim will merit producing outstanding Talmidei Chachomim.  The thousands of Seforim that have been produced by Lakewood Yungeleit over the years are a testament to Rav Edelstein’s remarkable words.

The author can be reached at [email protected]

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