Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Torah Without Yirah?

Rav Yechezkel Sarna, zt”l, had two brothers who learned in yeshivos where mussar wasn’t studied. When he visited one, he found that the bochurim got dressed up right after seder. Rav Yechezkel assumed they must be headed out to a simchah, but when he asked about it they answered, “Don’t be ridiculous—we’re dressing up to go out on the town!”

Upon visiting his other brother, Rav Yechezkel found everyone very somberly focused on lighting candles. This puzzled him greatly, so he asked for an explanation.

The bochurim were aghast as his ignorance. “Don’t you know that today is Herzl’s yahrtzeit?”

When Rav Wolbe, zt”l, told this story he remarked, “This is what happens in a yeshiva without mussar. In one we find boys drawn after gilui arayos and in the other avodah zarah! Not surprisingly, neither yeshiva exists today!”

Rav Wolbe continued, “A long time ago, the Ramchal, zt”l, traveled through Frankfurt and reported that there was a yeshiva filled with several hundred bochurim who learned very diligently, yet when he broached the subject of yiras shomayim, it was like they were made of dead wood. Is it any surprise that by the time Rav Hirsch, zt”l, became Rav of Frankfurt, there was a mere handful of religious families and this yeshiva had vanished without a trace? Without mussar, even one who diligently learns Gemara with Tosafos, prays intensely and keeps all the mitzvos, won’t have a clue about yiras shomayim!”

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