Talmidim in Rambam who hail from Yeshivas Toras Chaim Bais Binyamin of South Shore were abuzz when they found out that this year’s Family Learn-a-Thon shiur would be given by their rosh hayeshiva, Rav Mordechai Kamenetzky.
The learning get-together is held annually on January 1, since fathers have the opportunity to spend time learning with their sons without missing work.
One father exuberantly said, “Learning instead of work — I wish I could do it every day, especially with such an enjoyable program.”
The morning began with everyone davening Shacharis and was followed by a sumptuous breakfast provided by the Women’s League and sponsored by the Farrell, Fuchs, Grill, Herskowitz, and Pollack families.
After bentching, fathers and sons pored over the mareh mekomos in preparation for the shiur. The halachic sources were wide-ranging and included Gemara, Rishonim, the Shulchan Aruch, and piskei halachah from Rav Yehonasan Eibeshutz, the Chuster Rav, and later-day poskim such as Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt’l.
Rav Kamenetzky delivered a shiur on the topic of “Acting in Tandem with an Outsider’s View,” focusing on the sources the talmidim prepared. Rav Kamenetzky emphasized the point that Torah Jews must not only be meticulous in their halachic observance but must always be mindful of the “impressions” they create in the perceptions of others.
He peppered his insightful halachic analysis with interesting anecdotes referring to Sandy Koufax who brought pride to the Jewish world when he refused to pitch a World Series Game that fell out on Yom Kippur. Koufax was later interviewed in the summertime on CNN and was perturbed that the interview would air a few weeks later on Rosh Hashanah. He did not want to give the impression that he had actually participated in the interview on one of the Jewish High Holy days and an agreement was reached where it was made apparent that the interview was not a live interview.
Rabbi Kamenetzky emphasized the idea that Jews must be above reproach. It is also important for the Torah-observant community to think about the implications of their actions. “Years ago, my Zayde taught me that davening Minchah in a phone booth deprives the phone company of revenue if someone else wants to make a phone call.”
The fathers and sons thoroughly enjoyed Rav Kamenetzky’s shiur, and many stayed behind at its conclusion to thank him and ask follow-up questions.