by Rabbi Sholom DovBer Avtzon
Being that the school year is beginning this upcoming week, and one of the Rebbe Rashab’s greatest accomplishments is the establishment of Tomchei Tmimim, I decided to post a few interesting points I recently learned of, in my research for the biography of the Rebbe Rashab. All of these points are noted in the sefer Divrei Yimei Tmimim.
A. When the Rebbe Rashab informed the fifty respected leaders and chassidim of his intention to open a new Yeshiva, with high idealism and goals, he asked them for their opinion.
The vast majority of them stated that it would never happen as the teenagers nowadays are not at that level.
The Rebbe Rashab thanked them for their candor and honesty and replied. Based on what you are saying, that is why this Yeshiva is desperately needed. Because otherwise, it would never happen.
The only difference between us is that I believe that if the youth of today are guided properly they will embrace this lofty conduct for their entire life. The reason they are not there now is because they don’t see it in their homes and batei midrashim etc. While you feel that they are not capable of succeeding, and to that I say, that is a false assumption.
B. As everyone knows the Rebbe Rashab established the Yeshiva during the sheva brochos of the Frierdiker Rebbe. However, it was only the following Tishrei, one a year later, that he appointed the Frierdiker Rebbe to become the menahel poel.
C. During the second year of the Yeshiva, a few yungeleit (recently married men) asked to be accepted and receive a small stipend, and the Rebbe Rashab agreed to their request.
D. The Rebbe Rashab looked for certain qualities in the talmidim, and was initially extremely selective in who was accepted. In fact he accepted less than half of the applicants. The main criteria was not being knowledgeable and smart, but willing to obey the guidance.
It once happened that a few rich chassidim wanted their children to be accepted and offered to pay for all of their expenses plus more. The Frierdiker Rebbe was inclined to accept them as the parents were willing to hire a special teacher etc However, although he was the menahel poel and his father the Rebbe gave him the right to make the final decision, he asked his father the Rebbe.
The Rebbe Rashab said at this point, while the tree is not firmly rooted, a small defect can cause tremendous and serious repercussions, and therefore don’t look at all at the money they are offering. Only look at the child, and his potential.
E. A few years later, when the Yeshiva was firmly established, a special class was made for boys who were not at the regular level. They needed a program that wasn’t so intense. The Frierdiker Rebbe made it, and appointed Reb Moshe Rosenbloom who was known for being an excellent mechanech (educator) to take responsibility for this new program.
Although the amount they learned was less and on a lower level scholastically, the core requirement didn’t change at all. They were expected to conduct themselves like any and every Tomim.
Rabbi Avtzon is a veteran mechanech and the author of numerous Seforim on the Rebbeim and their chassidim. he is available to speak or farbreng in your community and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org