Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz: My Speech Was Not Meant to Bash


[Please note that comments will be limited, if allowed at all, for this post.]

Dear Readers,

As there is a lot of confusion regarding my speech, I would like to clarify some of my points and my intentions. I apologize for any typos, etc., but I am writing at a very inconvenient time from a very inconvenient place (Maimonides Hospital). I nevertheless feel that it’s important to write now to avoid anymore potential lashon hara.

I apologize and ask mechilah for not seeing the possibility of people using my comments out of context.

The point of my speech was to deliver one message, and one message only, and that is to make sure that there is a place in school for all our children in Lakewood. It was not meant in any way to “bash” Lakewood or its leaders. Anyone using my comments to support their own ulterior agendas are twisting my words.

I am not anti-Lakewood or anti-kollel, and if that happens to be your position, I would recommend that you take a tour of the city and its mekomos haTorah. I assure you that you will be impressed.

Anyone who is somewhat familiar with the substantial financial resources that I’ve invested and will continue to invest in Lakewood would quickly come to the conclusion that I adore Lakewood, realize how important it is for Torah, kavod haTorah, harbotzas haTorah and kiyum ha’olam, and how much I need to be a part of it. I consider its inhabitants as my family, and I am proud and thankful that I can be a part of this extraordinary makom Torah. Besides supporting the mosdos, I think I’ve proven that I try to do everything in my power to help any yungerman or their children in a time of need, and iy”H hope to continue to do so, in addition to the rest of Klal Yisroel.

I never chas veshalom meant to be mevazeh any of the roshei yeshiva or rabbonim. To the contrary, I spoke of the roshei yeshiva’s attempts and involvement in helping children get into mosdos, only to be turned down. I have heard directly from many roshei yeshiva, both from Lakewood and other cities, that they consistently have problems getting children into Lakewood schools. If any of the roshei yeshiva or rabbonim were offended, I hereby ask them publicly for mechilah. If any rov or rosh yeshiva would like me to come to them personally, I’m prepared to do so.

I have, and always had, tremendous kavod for the Lakewood roshei yeshiva. I’m sure if asked, they will all tell you that I fulfill any and all requests they ask of me without asking any questions. As an askan, I have never acted without the directive of the gedolim. In all my tzedakos, I believe that I’m known to never, ever, give with strings attached. I don’t discriminate against any person or mosad, even if they’ve done me wrong.

If I had to do it again, I would’ve spent the first hour telling people about the greatness of Lakewood. Lakewood has grown by leaps and bounds in population and ruchniyus. Under the leadership of the rosh yeshiva, Hagaon Hatzaddik Rav Aryeh Malkiel Kotler shlit”a, Lakewood has been more successful than anyone’s wildest imaginations. Its talmidei chachomim can be found all over the world, spreading Torah and Yiddishkeit. The city off Route 9 that we call Lakewood is merely the “corporate office” for the world.

I mentioned that Lakewood is everything right, that there is nothing more beautiful than Lakewood, but they are deficient in just one area. Due to the fact that I wanted to get a point across in the time allotted to me, I clearly did not spend enough time describing my genuine ahavah for Lakewood.

Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough when I specifically said that I don’t place the blame on the roshei mosdos, as they’re doing what we’d all do to protect their mosdos and not compromise the chinuch they provide. I also did not want to place blame on them, as every single one of them has bent over backwards to try and help alleviate the problem. I’ve been in communication with most of them, and they’re always trying to place “just one more child.”

Let me be clear: I put most of the blame on the elitists. An elitist is someone who calls a mosad and holds it hostage, forcing their will and desires, while clearly harming other children. They are generally of the belief that they are superior or frummer than everyone else. They put themselves on a pedestal and insist on their way or the highway. Instead of viewing other kids as the Aibishter‘s children, they view every child as a potential threat to their child’s reputation. This happens every year at nearly every mosad. I can understand a parent wanting a school where all the children come from homes without internet, televisions or other negative influences, but if you don’t want your child in a class that has children whose fathers work to provide parnassah for their family, then you are an elitist. The working father can be ehrlich, koveia ittim, and have all the right hashkafos, but that’s not good enough for you, because you consider yourself on a much higher madreigah.

The one point where I should’ve been clearer is that the vast majority of Lakewood are not elitists. They are humble bnei Torah whose zechusim we rely on to exist. But as in every religion and every culture, the extremists and the most vocal carry the show. While the elitists are the mi’uta d’miuta, they’ll cause 90% of the problem. In my opinion, it’s incumbent on all of us, as the silent majority, to speak up and not tolerate these attitudes that are the impetus and perpetuation of the problem.

I should have taken out the time to thank all the askanim who work day and night, trying to get children placed. They Aibishter should bentch them with shefa and bracha. Unfortunately, they don’t have the power alone to fix the system.

As I have clearly gotten too emotionally involved, I don’t think I’m the person to deal with the schooling issue. I have therefore decided to remove myself from this parsha. In terms of financial support, I will continue to support this beautiful makom Torah, and hopefully, with Hashem’s help, and your tefillos, I’ll be able to increase my support.

As the seforim hakedoshim write: We’ll never know who is supporting who. Ha’aron nosei es nosav (Yalkut Shimoni).

Bechavod rav,

Shlomo Yehuda

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