Glimpse of Greatness- Rav Dovid Lifshitz zt’l

The following was published CHICAGO TORAH, a monthly publication of Yeshiva University Torah Mitzion Kollel of Chicago.

GLIMPSE OF GREATNESS
Rabbi Dovid Lifshitz, zt”l
(1906-1993) was a distinguished Torah leader, who was renowned for his dedication to his countless students. At the age of 30, Rav Lifshitz became the community rabbi of Suvalk in Poland, which he maintained until its capture by the Nazis in 1940. Rav Lifshitz and some of his family escaped to the United States where he presided as the Rosh Yeshiva of the Hebrew Theological College (HTC) for a brief period.
Rav Lifshitz was presented with two opportunities in New York City: to serve as rosh yeshiva at two preeminent institutions, Torah Vodaath and Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. Rav Lifshitz chose to accept the position at RIETS, where he served as teacher and mentor for nearly five decades.
Rav Lifshitz lived with his family on the campus of the Yeshiva and made himself constantly available to his students. He treated each of them with great care and respect.
One morning, a student came to his apartment unannounced. The student knocked on the apartment door, and the Rosh Yeshiva’s wife answered. She asked the student to wait in order to inform her husband of his guest.
The student was waiting patiently, when he noticed the kitchen door slightly ajar. Through the gap, he saw Rav Lifshitz sitting at the table, without a jacket or hat, eating his breakfast. When the Rebbetzin informed Rav Lifshitz about the student who was waiting, he immediately ran to the back and donned his jacket and hat.
After his conversation with Rav Lifshitz, the student left the apartment and understood the intentions of his Rebbe; without knowing, Rav Lifshitz taught the young man a lesson of respect- respect for Torah and respect for every person. The student understood that a teacher of Torah must present themselves with dignity and honor befitting the Torah that they represent. Rav Lifshitz taught that this honor was not only reserved for greeting distinguished guests or formal occasions. Every student, every visitor, deserved this same distinguished honor. It was with care and respect that he earned the devotion of his countless students.

(As told by Rabbi Yudin)

 

1 thought on “Glimpse of Greatness- Rav Dovid Lifshitz zt’l

  1. micha

    While I also never saw rebbe out of “uniform”, the concept of “kavod” wasn’t one that crossed my mind when describing what it was like to be his talmid.

    To me, the experience was more like having a third Zeidi. Often a rebbe is a father-figure, but Rav Dovid always felt more like a grandfather-figure. And not just because of the age difference, although that must have been part of it. But because Zeidis, at least my two “grampa”s, never punished and rarely yelled. They instead let you see yourself as they saw you — through eyes of pride, emphasis on your strengths, and someone fully capable of being beyond whatever mistake it was you had made. And with no greater joy than just spending time doing something together, in this case learning.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.