Collated by Rabbi Yair Hoffman

Tonight is the 13th yahrtzeit of Moreinu HaRav Henoch Leibowitz zt”l.  The Rosh HaYeshiva zt”l was one of the primary movers behind the idea of entering chinuch, and kiruv, in out-of-town communities.  He provided inspiration, guidance, and chizuk both to his own students and to others who have entered into that holy arena of Avodas Hashem.

We no longer have that inspiration.  But what if there was a message, a kind of letter, or a series of letters that could provide such inspiration?  What if there was a step-by-step guide that could give us such chizuk and clarity of purpose?

What follows is just such an item. It has been repurposed and slightly edited, to appear in letter form – from other sources. A sentence or two has been added here and there, but they are, in totality, the Rosh HaYeshiva’s own words.

Letter #1

Dear Reb _________,

Sometimes, we can get depressed and we can lose focus as to our purpose and direction.

But don’t let the yetzer hara get a foothold.

Rather, you can gain chizuk from the fact that Jews across the nation have come to realize that in order to maintain Jewish identity, Jewish culture alone cannot substitute for what has been the life spring of our existence.   Jewish culture itself has a vague and empty form. It is without substantive religious content – which is what everyone needs.

Torah has been a foundation of our existence. It has sustained us throughout the galus. And Jews everywhere have come to realize that to a certain extent.

What you are doing is bringing them back to their heritage.

There is general disappointment in secular ideals.  There is a realization that there is a higher and more forceful power.  It is clear that no scientific discipline has been devised that can elevate human character. Also, the Jewish identity, in that sense, has not been maintained and it is this realization that is behind the nationwide resurgence in yiddishkeit.

People have found that with all the material acquisitions, with all the push-button conveniences, we have not found the happiness that we were so hotly pursuing.

There must be something more.  There must exist something ever more meaningful to mankind. “Lo al halechem levado yishye haodom.” Man does not live by bread alone which includes within it every physical, material gain.

No matter what sort of life one leads, there must be some sort of spiritual satisfaction. There is great disappointment with secular culture –  it does not fulfill human needs.

Reb _______, Jews everywhere are searching and yearning for something meaningful and significant. This is why we have a resurgence to Yiddishkeit. This come back; looking to this culture which has given us eternity, which has given fulfillment, and that is still being pursued.

This is what you must focus upon and tap into.   Of course, the course is rocky. We do not enough manpower to guide them properly. You have done so, however, ashrecha.

[Rav] ACHL


Letter #2

Dear Reb _________,

How are you?

Continuing along our previous letter, I just want to let you know that you are following the imprint established by my father zatzal, who had a very deep feeling of faith in the invincible strength of Torah. His basic premise was that Torah can reach everywhere – if it is carried by people, great talmidei chachomim such as yourself.

His mehalech, however, was that it isn’t sufficient to be infused with just a feeling to want to disseminate Torah. Rather, the goal is to send men out to the fields – to send who have learned for many, many, years. Men such as yourself, who have spent between 12 and 14 years learning in Yeshiva after high school, devoting themselves to the profundity of Torah, and also, very seriously to the study of mussar –  which is the area of Torah that deals with the human element.

With Mussar we begin to understand relationships, and the human psyche. It allows us to probe into man’s potential for greatness, for nobility, into his inherent dignity, but also into his frailties. Your years in yeshiva have allowed you to develop the capacity, the technique, to evolve your own logically compelling sources, to glean more sources from Chazal, from the Torah.  This path has allowed you to see the human potential for achievement.

Remember that Chazal give us the totally encompassing view of the human endeavor and every area of human endeavor. You are well equipped to maintain your own kochos and strength, as a result of your high level of learning, both in halacha and in the amkus of your learning.  Remember, this koach of Torah has a kind of a mystical power to develop the eternal strengths, and forces within us.

You have the capacity to be able to communicate and to unravel and unveil the beauty of Torah. You can show the people in your community the relevance of Torah – that it deals with every kind of human aspect, human strength, human spirit, and human relations. You have the ability to show its relevance to contemporary living today.

Your years in Yeshiva have given you the ability to lead a Torah life in a secular environment, and to be able to open the insights of Torah to the laypeople.

As you have done so many times, you can present it on their level, and show them the beauty of Torah; to attract them to it.  rather than be overwhelmed by the environment, they can exert a positive impact on it. You enhance your own home.  You have the inner strength and feeling that you can reach out to others with something that people want, yearn and clamor for. As you see people who are so very definitely affected by the positive teachings of Torah – you yourself gain greater inspiration and strength.

Furthermore, by your having been constantly involved in understanding the mussar aspect of Torah, you have the tools for more and more insight and exploration into it. This is what you received in yeshiva – aside from your faith in Torah, and your faith in the Yiddishe neshoma.

May Hashem yisboroch continue to give you syata dishmaya to maintain your strength and tempo in disseminating Torah and exerting an influence on your community.

[Rav] ACHL


Letter #3

Dear Reb ___________,

It has been a few weeks, and I want to put on paper some more chizuk, if possible.  I want to stress four important points.  Firstly, the ground is now extremely fertile, and people are searching for ruchniyus – for Torah.  Secondly,  as a ben Torah there is an obligation upon you – if you can do it – to cater to those needs of the members of Klal Yisroel who, at this point, are receptive to it. Thirdly, recall the strength of Torah and in the receptivity that Klal Yisroel has to it – what you teach will certainly reach its mark.

You have remarkable kochos in developing, with your own skills, an independent way of being able to explore muchrach mekoros in Torah that are applicable to every question that arises!

You can find the answers and solutions to all that comes up within Torah. You can do so in terms of halacha as well as human relations. You have had many many years of this kind of preparation.  Not only that, but one can readily see that you are imbued with this ideal, and are boruch Hashem convinced of its power.  It is with this emunah that you have gone out and are fulfilling your purpose in life. At this stage in our history it is most incumbent.  It is the highest objective, the greatest urgency and immediacy of the need, to serve in that capacity, to answer the needs of Klal Yisroel!


{Rav} ACHL

As reported by Vos Iz Neias