Part 11-Yeshiva Torah Vodaath at 100: Talmidim of the Mesivta Speak

Torah Vodaath

Harav Shachne Weinberger is the Menahel of Mesivta of Clifton and Rav of K’hal Tiferes Boruch in Passaic, New Jersey. He learned in Yeshiva Torah Vodaath throughout his years in elementary school, mesivta and beis medrash, and learned in the yeshivah’s Kollel Nachlas Dovid after his marriage. During his years in the yeshivah, he merited a close relationship with Harav Avrohom Pam, zt”l.

Why did your parents choose to send you to Yeshiva Torah Vodaath?

Our family lived in Williamsburg, and I was the third of three boys. My older brothers, Reb Gedalia and Reb Shloime, were already talmidim of the yeshivah before me. Since Yeshiva Torah Vodaath was local and my parents were happy with the chinuch that my brothers were receiving, it was natural for me to follow in their footsteps and enter Yeshiva Torah Vodaath.

Which Rebbi, Menahel or Rosh Yeshivah did you associate with while in the yeshivah?

I had many Gedolei Torah as my Rebbeim. I was in the shiur of Harav Zelig Epstein, zt”l, for two years, and Harav Elya Chazzan, zt”l, for two years as well. However, the Rebbi with whom I had the greatest connection was Rav Pam.

Actually, I was zocheh to meet Rav Pam many years earlier, well before my bar mitzvah. My brothers were his talmidim, and I went along with them one Purim. I remember that I was in awe of him: his warmth, his persona, his radiance.

Years later, as a bachur, I was in his shiur while learning Yoreh De’ah with my longtime chavrusa, Harav Yisrael Reisman, and we sat right next to Rav Pam in the beis medrash. At that point, Rav Pam was not yet involved as much in klal issues, and he was very available to us as we learned there each day.

Whenever we had anything to discuss with him, he would be there for us. At times, we had the opportunity to go through pieces of the Pri Megadim line by line, and even word by word. Through this, we developed an extremely close relationship, and he was my Rebbi muvhak in all aspects of my life.

We also discussed inyanei hashkafah with Rav Pam in addition to what we were learning. When it came time for us to have our farher, Rav Pam mentioned that from all our discussions, he understood that we knew the halachos, but we took the farher nonetheless.

In my later years, I was zocheh to learn from Harav Reuven Fain, zt”l, as well. After I got married, I spent some time in Eretz Yisrael, where I learned in the Mir under Harav Refael Shmuelevitz, zt”l. After returning to Torah Vodaath, we began learning Eizehu Neshech, the fifth perek of Bava Metzia, which deals with the difficult halachos of ribbis. That year, Rav Fain gave weekly chaburos in that perek during second seder. Very often, when we approached him to ask him a kushya, he began answering by saying, “Ich hub amuhl gezugt, I once said…”. It was amazing that he had a mehalech, an original path in all the various sugyos that we learned. He was malei vegadush, full and overflowing with Torah knowledge.

Who were your role models?

I recall looking up to Harav Shmueli Rosenbaum, who was then a yungerman and learned many portions of Shulchan Aruch with his chavrusa, Harav Gedalia Machlis. In addition, Harav Shlomo Frankel was a fountain of knowledge, and whatever and wherever we asked him, he was familiar with it and had an address where we should look.

I also was able to look up to some people who are today well-known Torah personalities, including Harav Pinchos Wachsman, Harav Avrohom Schorr, Harav Shalom Kamenetsky, Harav Mordechai Finkelman, Harav Shloime Lezer, Harav Avrohom Brickman, amongst others. We looked up to these people, which inspired us to shteig.

What special character trait did you gain from Yeshiva Torah Vodaath, which you feel is unique to the Yeshiva Torah Vodaath talmid?

As a talmid of Rav Pam, I must say that you can probably recognize other people who learned from him. All of his actions, his manner of speech, made you want to emulate him. We tried to live up to the standards which he preached, and I think we can say that the talmidim of Rav Pam are recognized for being molded in the image which Rav Pam desired.

What are your fondest memories of your Yeshiva Torah Vodaath experience?

I have many wonderful and warm memories of my yeshivah days. We were zocheh to have many outside speakers come and address us, and this gave us the opportunity to hear a variety of different shmuessen. Harav Sholom Schwadron, zt”l, would come periodically when he was in America, and we had the opportunity to hear his fiery shmuessen. I also recall when Harav Betzalel Zolty, zt”l, came and said a masterful shiur.

Another picture which sticks in my mind is watching Harav Nesanel Quinn, zt”l, return to the beis medrash after he retired as Menahel of the mesivta after half a century. It was amazing to observe as he sat in the beis medrash with the energy and bren of a young person and began learning side by side with those decades his junior.

I also have a vivid recollection of how Harav Moshe Tuvia Weintraub, zt”l, would make a siyum on the days that he had yahrtzeit. I was amazed how he wouldn’t be satisfied with finishing a relatively small masechta, but would make a siyum on one of the larger masechtos that we were learning in yeshivah, like Maseches Yevamos or Maseches Kesubos. This showed us what a person is capable of, and inspired us to exert ourselves in our learning.

What would you like to see in the future for Yeshiva Torah Vodaath?

When I was in mesivta, there were five classes on each level. My brachah to Yeshiva Torah Vodaath as it celebrates this milestone of its centennial anniversary is that they should be machzir atarah leyoshnah, return the crown of Torah to its place and position, and the yeshivah should experience many glorious years of growth in the next century.