On June 19th close to two hundred people were zoche to witness a scene that they may never forget. The location was the dining hall of Mesivta Yesodei Hatorah of Naugatuck, Connecticut. The occasion? The Siyum Hashanasis, celebrating a year of wonderful shteiging by the talmidei hamesivta, featuring siyumim by the bochurim on Mesechtos Bava Kamma, Rosh Hashana, Megillah, and even Shas Mishnayos.
As the program got underway, all eyes were drawn to the entrance of the room. The excitement was palpable as people began to murmur, “He’s coming!” The visitor in question was none other than Hagaon Hatzaddik Rav Shimon Galei shlit”a who was visiting America from Eretz Yisrael. Rav Galei had been taking advantage of the serene environment of the Naugatuck community surrounding the Mesivta to rest and recover from an illness that had caused him weakness and sapped him of his trademark exuberance. However, the esteemed Gadol had remarked to his gabbaim that the inspiring Shabbos spent with the bochurim who impressed him with their diligence and sincerity had given him back his chiyus. As such, he had expressed his desire to attend the siyum and partake in the maamad of kavod hatorah.
Finally, the anticipated moment had come. The venerable Gadol entered the room as all present burst forth with a song of berocho and appreciation. Rav Aryeh Reiss, Menahel, thanked Rav Galei for gracing the maamad with his presence and then called upon the bochurim to make their siyumim and share divrei torah. Upon the completion of the siyumim, the music began and leibidige dancing commenced. However, nothing could have prepared those in attendance for what happened next.
Rav Galei, despite his weakened state, not only joined the dancing but began to lead the teenage bochurim, imploring them to dance ever faster, jump ever higher, in a magnificent display of the simcha that only limud hatorah can bring. Again, and again the Rav instructed the musician to slow the beat of the songs so that he could jump and sing together with the beaming bochurim. The roar of “Ma ma ahavti torescha!” penetrated everyone’s being as the celebration reached a fevered pitch. Finally, the music ended and all returned to their seats to hear the inspiring words of Rav Galei.
In his address, the gadol explained that in truth, he was weak and did not have his usual kochos. Nonetheless, “kavod hatorah is chamur” (in the words of the Gemoro in Megillah) and as such, he was able to draw upon deep reserves of strength to celebrate the wonderful accomplishments of the beloved bochurim. The crowd hung upon every word as the tzaddik related incredible stories about kavod hatorah from his youth.
The program concluded with an uplifting derosho by the menahel, Harah Reiss shlit”a followed by more spirited dancing. All present left with warm and indelible memories of an event that personified kavod hatorah. The impact of the presence of Rav Galei was another example of the incredible sityata dishmaya that Mesivta Yesodei Hatorah has been zoche to receive. In the few short years since its founding by Rav Doniel Lander shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Ohr Hachaim, the mesivta has developed into a premier destination for serious bnei torah from across the country.
As the guests filed out of the hall you could almost hear the tefilla upon their lips. The bakasha was a heartfelt request from Hashem that the inspiration of this amazing event of kavod hatorah should inspire us all to rededicate ourselves to learning even more, with the fervor and excitement that was so tangible at the siyum. Amin kein yehi ratzon!
As seen here on Yeshiva World News.