The founder of Aish HaTorah, Rav Noach Weinberg was nifter on Thursday morning. I never officially attended Aish HaTorah, but while learning in Eretz Yisrael (my first year) in 1991 I spent a good amount of time in the Old City at Aish attending classes personally given by the late Rosh Yeshiva. I heard all of the “5 Levels of Pleasure” discussions, about 10 of the “48 Ways”, and was part of a small group that met in his office for 4 or 5 times for various “Outreach Seminars”.
During his discussions about Kiruv he repeated the following several times:
It’s important for those of us who believe in Hashem’s Torah to show the world that while we live according to the Torah, we do it with joy. You must always show the Simchas HaChaim, the joy of a Torah life. I love ice cream and I don’t mind letting you know that. Why? Because it’s a pleasure to eat it. Hashem doesn’t want us to push aside thing we love that are permitted in the Torah. Show people that you can obey all of the commandments and still like ice cream.
This is a lesson that so important for everyone. It makes no difference if you are in kiruv, chinuch, business, or just a parent, child, or silbling. Enjoy life the way Hashem wants you to. He was a true Gadol B’Kiruv. He was almost larger than life, yet totally accessable to everyone (well, this was my observation). It is inspiring to see what effect one person can have on the world.
By the way, my favorite ice cream is Mint Chocolate Chip.