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Chicago Uniting Through Torah

Thursday, 2 June, 2016 - 9:41 pm

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Chicago Uniting Through Torah 

        

 

In the two decades that the Lubavitch Mesivta has been serving the Chicago community, it has made a powerful impact in numerous ways—above all by rallying the Jewish people around its most precious possession: Torah.

“When the Mesivta students come to our shul, I hold them up as an ideal for others to emulate,” says Rabbi Elisha Prero of Young Israel of West Rogers Park, where the Mesivta students are welcomed guest-speakers during shalosh seudos and other occasions. “Often I find myself deeply impressed by their mastery of the material and their ability to connect to the tzibur through Torah. I remember a particularly accomplished young man who had a wonderful and deep way of explaining the Torah thought he was teaching. I asked him how old he was and he simply said ‘shiur gimmel,’ I thought he meant that he was in his third year of beis midrash, when in fact he was still in the third year of mesivta.”

The Mesivta bochurim are also regular visitors at other Torah centers.

For fourteen years, they have been steadily building Torah bonds with their peers at the Fasman Yeshiva High School in Skokie. “Over the years, we’ve developed a friendship,” says Yoni Brown, a Fasman senior, who has been learning with the Mesivta boys since he was in 9th grade. “Ourchavrusah sessions are among the highlights of my week.”

Although the bochurim come from different backgrounds, they find a common language in the age-old words of Abaye and Rava, Ravina and Rav Ashi, and the Alter Rebbe and the Rebbe whose words they study with devotion and reverence.

To many Chicagoans, Mr. Marc Geller’s conference room has become synonymous with Torah learning downtown. A diamond merchant by trade, Mr. Geller is famous for hosting a Minchah and Torah shiur that attracts business people yearning for a bit of spirituality in the midst of the busy work day.

After a full week of hearing divrei Torah from rebbisroshei yeshivah, and other accomplished scholars, Mr. Geller tops it all off by exchanging Torah thoughts with the Mesivta students who visit his office every Friday.

“This is what I take with me into Shabbos, and what I most often will repeat at my own table,” attests Mr. Geller, “Everyone knows that I love hearing a devar Torah, and I especially love hearing it from theseyungeleit, who are the future of our people, our next leaders.”

“It’s not easy for them on a Friday afternoon, racing against the clock, going from door to door,” observes Mr. Geller. “I see it as a two-way street. I gain from their Torah knowledge, and I believe that they gain by having the opportunity to be welcomed in and listened to.”

While the Mesivta has changed the face of the community through thebochurim it produces, it has also attracted a world-class team ofmechanchim, whose classes and guidance have benefitted the entirety of Chicago.

“Just having these talmidei chachamim in our shul has been a tremendous asset to our baalei batim,” declared Rabbi Baruch Hertz, marah d’asra of Congregation Bnei Ruven. “The very fact that a person knows he can approach someone with a question in learning and receive an answer that is clear, broad, and deep is invaluable.”

Many Mesivta staff have regular chavrusos with individuals and also give ongoing shiurim in Bnei Ruven and other area shuls.

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“It was 22 years ago that we began our hashkamah minyan in KINS,” recalls Mr. Hillel Shapiro. “At that time, we wanted to make sure that it would be a way to enhance people’s learning on Shabbos, and not just a shortcut to get to the cholent by 9:30. We therefore instituted that theminyan be followed by classes with an emphasis on halachah lemaaseh.Besides for our rav, Rabbi Perlstein has been the single presenter who has been with us all this time. His broad knowledge and open give-and-take format has made for classes that are enlightening and lively.”

And indeed, the Mesiva’s presence is felt in too many ways to be fully captured in words. To quote Rabbi Daniel Raccah, “the Lubavitch Mesivta creates a total ben Torah, who is an integral part of a community.”

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