The Weekly Shtikle Blog

An online forum for sharing thoughts and ideas relating to the Parshas HaShavua

View Profile

Friday, December 21

The Weekly Shtikle - Vayechi

    I have unfortunately just returned from the levaya of a great man - a pillar of Ner Yisroel and the Baltimore Jewish Community at large - R' Yosef Schechter, who passed away last night at the age of 84. R' Shechter has been very closely involved with the Yeshiva since the 1940's and served as a Rabbi in Norfolk, VA and New Orleans, LA. His son put it best when he said that R' Schechter retired from his job at the age of 65 but didn't stop doing his job until yesterday. This past Monday, R' Schechter was honoured at the Baltimore Siyum HaTorah, a project whose success and national adoption is attributed to R' Schechter's dedication. He will certainly be remembered with his warmth and his love of every single Jew. When he davened in the Agudah in the morning, he would sit at the back and you were "not allowed" to leave without having R' Schechter give you his famous "Have a good day." He would literally call people back if they somehow managed to sneak through. This week's shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas Yosef ben Eliezer Z'ev.
    When Yaakov's children escort his body back to Eretz Cana'an to be buried in Me'aras HaMachpeilah, the Canaanites are taken aback by the magnitude of the convoy for Yaakov Avinu and exclaim, (50:11) "This is a grievous mourning for Mitzrayim." From the wording of the pesukim, it seems on the surface like it was simply the size that impressed them. But the presence of Yosef also greatly contributed to their awe. Indeed, the gemara (Sotah 13a) recounts that the descendant of Eisav, Yishmael and the sons of Keturah met them with intentions to attack them and wage war. When they saw the crown of Yosef adroning Yaakov's coffin, they removed their own crowns and placed them on his coffin out of respect. When they saw that the Egyptian majesty saw fit to escort the body to its final resting place, they gained new appreciation for Yaakov Avinu's stature.
    There were many connections drawn today between the Yosef HaTzaddik of the Torah and the Yosef HaTzaddik of our time, as can be expected given the juxtaposition to the parhsa. Here is yet another. I first met R' Schechter when he came to Ottawa to raise money for the Yeshivah. I was given what I unfortunately first considered the burden, but later realized was the privilege, of chauffeuring R' Schechter around town. My first impression was that of surprise that someone in his 70's would still be travelling around collecting. As the years went on, I got to know R' Schechter better and realized what a great man he really was. He was a man of great humility. He did not demand even half of the respect he truly deserved. It was never beneath his dignity to go out and do the "dirty work" of collecting money for the Yeshivah. It was what needed to be done and he didn't let anything stop him. He gave every last ounce of strength to spreading Torah and the Yeshivah's name throughout the continent and bringing the zechus of Torah to those who might otherwise not have been so fortunate. When observing the unwaivering dedication and devotion R' Schechter had for the Yeshiva, for Baltimore and Torah as a whole, not only did I appreciate the greatness of the man, but I gained new appreciation for the cause he championed. He will be sorely missed by the Yeshivah, by Baltimore and the broader Jewish Community as a whole. Yehi zichro baruch.
Have a good Shabbos and may we hear of semachos in the future.


Post a Comment

<< Home