Hagaon Harav Aharon Yehudah Leib Shteinman shlit”a, the great leader of the yeshiva world in Israel, is no stranger to our readers. He is at the forefront of trying to solve the inevitable political crises that come up in the struggle between the Torah-true chareidi world and the secular Israeli establishment. The current draft proposal and fiscal cuts have thrust this Torah giant into the media limelight, much to his dissatisfaction.
But who is this nonagenarian Rosh Yeshivah, and what does he teach to his students and followers? What guidance does he have to offer based on a lifetime of Torah and Avodah in Eretz Yisrael and in Europe, having associated with such greats as the Brisker Rav, Rav Aharon Kotler, Rav Shach, the Ponevezher Rav and many others?
Until now, Rav Shteinman’s advice has been a closed book to many of us. However, just in time for the Yamim Noraim and Sukkos, all of us – men, women, and teenagers – can bask in the light of this great sage’s advice, wisdom, and loving guidance. In Leading with Love, Rav Shteinman’s shmuessen (discourses) and letters are translated into plain, readable English. His love and concern for every Jew shines through on each page. This is a book that belongs in every Torah Jew’s home.
This book can be a great gift to others for Yom Tov, or provide much needed personal chizuk over this long holiday season. Either way, we’re sure you’ll love reading Leading with Love!
Click here to purchase.
Here is an excerpt from Leading with Love:
The World Is on Fire!
Menachem Av 5761
We all know the Gemara which states: One should always view the world as half innocent and half guilty (Kiddushin 40b). If we do one mitzvah, we can tilt the scale to the side of good. Even if we do not cause the good to outweigh the bad, we will have created more merits for the world. That causes an influx of good in the world, which can save people from death and all sorts of harsh decrees.
Especially nowadays, we see so much pain and tragedy on a daily basis. There are terrorist attacks, car accidents, as well as children, young adults and older people taking ill with all kinds of sicknesses. All age groups are afflicted. We can say quite literally that “the world is on fire!”
Despite all this, there are many people who are ignorant of the Torah. They remain focused on their selfish needs, unbending and unyielding.
We can describe this situation in terms of the Gemara (Moed Katan 26a). The Gemara expounds on the pasuk, When Yehudi [the son of Nesanyahu] read three or four pesukim, [the king] tore them out with a scribe’s razor and threw them into the fire in the fireplace (Yirmiyahu 36:23). The Gemara asks: What are the three and four pesukim? It proceeds to explain that the ministers said to King Yehoyakim, “Yirmiyahu Hanavi wrote a book of lamentations.” The king asked, “What is written in it?” They replied [with Yirmiyahu’s prophecy of impending destruction, cast in the past tense], The city sat in solitude. He replied, “I am king.” As Rashi explains, he meant that nothing is said here about the king. In other words: What do I care about the [destruction prophesied to befall Yerushalayim]? About me, nothing is written. So for me, everything will be fine!
They continued: “It says, She [Yerushalayim] wept at night...” Yehoyakim repeated, “I am king.” Once again, he announced his stance that he was king [and had no reason to fear]. When they continued reading, Yehudah was exiled amidst poverty, he answered a third time, “I am king.” And when they told him it is also written, The roads of Tzion are in mourning, he said again, “I am king.”
Despite everything they read him from the kinah (dirge) of Yirmiyahu about the calamities about to befall the Jews – the city sitting in solitude, weeping at night, the people being exiled amidst poverty, and the roads of Tzion being in mourning – the king remained calm: “I am king.” With me, things are going well. Nothing bad has happened. I am king.
Only when they continued with the fifth pasuk, Her enemies will be the leaders – meaning, as Rashi explains, that they will lead, and not you – did the king finally perk up and ask, “Who said that?” They replied [with the end of that pasuk]: For Hashem has pained her due to her many sins. Immediately, King Yehoyakim had all the names of Hashem cut out of the megillah and thrown into the fire. As it is written [in the continuation of this account in chapter 36 of Sefer Yirmiyahu]: They did not fear nor rend their clothing (36:24).
From this, we see the nature of people: how they can remain serene and unaffected in their self-made bubbles. Yehoyakim was not the worst person, yet even when he heard about all the impending tragedies, he remained stiff-necked: “I am king” – What does this have to do with me?
To some degree, many of us are just like him. We hear of tragedies literally on a daily basis: terror attacks, shootings, and car accidents. So many people have lost their lives in these occurrences, and so many more have been injured. [Let us keep in mind that] injuries are no simple matter. Many of the injured are paralyzed for life. There are so many other troubles we hear about, too. Yet, we do not really pay attention. Why not? Because we think, I am king. We all say, “It’s not relevant to me.” The problems are somewhere else, not here. This happened, that happened, but it is unrelated to me. We do not want to hear.
But those who know how to listen properly realize that the world is on fire! This cannot be taken lightly. How can we extinguish the fire? With Torah and gemilas chassadim. Of course, we must observe the entire Torah and all the mitzvos. However, Chazal say that the main way to be saved from the birth pangs of Mashiach is through Torah and gemilas chassadim.