By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5TJT.com
One of the remarkable facets of Rav Yeruchem Levovitz zt”l was his realization that the individual needs of each of the Talmidim in Yeshiva must be met. The Alter of Slabodka would point out to him that Talmidim and Yeshivos should not be viewed as a cookie cutting factory where each Talmid is looked at as the same. Rather, the skills, talents, and creativity of each Talmid should be looked at and formed to develop in the best manner for that individual in particular.
The Rosh Yeshiva of the Mir Yeshiva in Poland was Rav Lazer Yudel Finkel, the son of Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel – the son of the Alter. Rav leizer Yudel’s son, Rav Chaim Zev Finkel had learned in the Mir until 1922 and then went on to learn in Brisk under Rav Velvel (1887-1959 – the son of Rav Chaim Soloveitchik who took over his position). He was so shocked that there were so precious few talmidim he wrote his father and asked him to start sending bochurim there. Rav Lazer Yudel did. This started a wonderful relationship between the two Yeshivos – where choshuva Mir Talmidim went to study with Rav Velvel.
[In 1926, Rav Chaim Finkel moved to Eretz Yisroel to be at the side of his grandfather the Alter who was in Hevron. Later, in 1929, he married his wife Leah, the daughter of Rav Yehudah Leib Eibenshitz and Rebbitzen Cheila. Rav Eibenshitz had already passed away, and at the urging of the Pupa Dayan – Rav Moshe Yoseph Hoffman, Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld had married Rebbitzen Cheila (some 30 years younger than him), and had adopted her daughter, Leah. Rav Chaim Zev Finkel enjoyed a close relationship with his step-father-in-law, Rav Yoseph Chaim Sonnenfeld.]
In 1930, Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, right after his marriage to his Rebbitzen, Basha, (the daughter of All For the Boss fame – Rabbi Yaakov Yoseph Herman) had come to learn in Mir Poland. He had remarkable hasmade even at a young age and had finished shas at the age of 16 and ½. His greatness was recognized in the Mir and he was one of the four hand-picked talmidim sent to learn at Brisk under Rav Velvel.
After a short while, Rav Yeruchem Levovitz met with the young Rav Scheinberg and saw that he wanted to return to Mir. He had asked him why and what had happened. Rav Scheinberg responded that the set up was such that the shiur of Rav Velvel was in the home and that each time chairs had to be brought and the table needed to be brought and that it involved a lot of down time. Rav Yeruchem responded, “For you, it is better to be in Mir rather than to learn under the Brisker Rav.”
Of course, the Mir Yeshiva continued to send others to gain from Rav Velvel, but the point is that Rav Yeruchem was well aware that the dictum chanoch laNoar al pi darcho – does not just mean that patterns instilled in one’s youth remain – but that each student must be reached in the way that was unique to him.
Rav Scheinberg became a leading gadol hador – and perhaps one of the prime examples of remarkable hasmada.