How many Gedolei Hador have come to the humble tzedakah office near Yoel street?
It’s hard to count.
The offices of Vaad Harabbanim, located in an old apartment in a residential building next to Meah Shearim, Jerusalem, have had the privilege of hosting so many of the leading Torah personalities of recent generations.
From Moreinu Posek Hador Harav Hagaon R’ Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l and Moreinu Harav Hagaon Hatzaddik R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l, who founded Vaad Harabbanim and headed it until their last days, to Moreinu Rosh Hayeshivah R’ Aharon Leib Steinman zt”l, and Moreinu Posek Hador Harav Hagaon R’ Shmuel Halevi Wosner zt”l. As well as, may they live and be well, Harav Hagaon R’ Baruch Mordechai Ezrachi shlita, and Moreinu the Rebbe of Vizhnitz shlita, Harav Hagaon R’ Reuven Elbaz shlita, and many other leading Torah personalities, Roshei Yeshivos, Chassidishe Rebbes and Tzaddikim, who lead and direct Vaad Harabbanim.
Each of them has his own personal connection to Vaad Harabbanim. All are excited about the powerful tzedakah activities that Vaad Harabbanim performs for the sake of Klal Yisrael, and the special berachah it brings to the donors.
The Gedolei Torah came in to give chizuk, to direct and to offer their brachah to the donors, who maintain this wondrous tzedakah work!
Last week, Vaad Harabbanim was once again privileged to an exciting visit. Harav Hagaon R’ Mordechai Gross shlita, Av Beis Din Chanichei Hayeshivos, and Harav Hagaon R’ Shlomo Zafrani shlita, Rosh Yeshivat Siftei Hayim, entered the office.
These Gedolei Torah brought with them a spirit of kedushah, were greeted with great respect and awe, and proceeded to warmly bless the dedicated gabbaim of Vaad Harabbanim. They wanted to see with their own eyes what Vaad Harabbanim does.
Harav Gross shlita has already visited the office several times, but for Harav Zafrani it was the first time. He took interest and wanted to know about every detail. About the tzedakah fund, by means of which thousands of orphans have been supported in respectful discreetness for over twenty years. About the special funds for cases of need, about the stipends and allocations, and about the donations. He inquired about the Tefilos of the Gedolei Hador and the sending of sheluchim to Mekomos Hakedoshim.
The Gabbaim opened the reports and presented the data. Here is the department of support allocations for chagim. They point to a certain line, on which the names are not disclosed, only the address is visible: Avnei Nezer st, Modiin Ilit. The father’s emotional health is weak, two children have special needs, and the mother is struggling to keep the home functional. “A family like this, for example, can’t handle Sukkos on its own,” says the gabbai of Vaad Harabbanim. “Sukkah walls, frozen chickens, groceries, socks for the children, yarmulkes, lulavim for the older boys… getting ready for Yom Tov is expensive for everyone, and families that are in distress and barely managing throughout the year can’t begin the project of holiday preparations without significant help.”
The Rabbanim review the lists. A line, another line, and another line. Thousands of personal and family challenges are condensed into a few words. Thousands of families from all over Eretz Yisrael, for whom the support that Vaad Harabbanim will send them enables the chag to enter their homes.
“And how are the allocations actually distributed, practically speaking?” asks Harav Zafrani.
The gabbai of Vaad Harabbanim opens the distribution reports and shows him exact and detailed lists of the support allocations that were given out in the past year, including copies of each check, the date it was given and the identity of the recipient.
“There are families that need support for an extended period of time.” The gabbai leafs through the forms. “Like, for instance, this family from Haifa. The mother has a chronic illness and suffers from severe attacks. She needs very expensive medication that is not covered by her insurance plan, as well as daily help with taking care of the children.”
The gabbai goes on, to the line about Sari and Elchanan. Sari and Elchanan were born to parents who are mentally ill, and instead of receiving hugs and normal development, they witnessed fights, screaming, and were sometimes locked out of their house. Now they are living at the home of a kind foster family, and Vaad Harabbanim sends a regular stipend for their psychological treatment.
Many applications come in to Vaad Harabbanim every day. Each application is examined carefully and will be accompanied by the affidavit of a Rav who is personally familiar with the family and the case. Everything is written down, clear, documented, exact. Every dollar that comes in. Every dollar that goes out. Where, when, and for what purpose. Every transaction needs the signature of the Rabbanim who are overseeing that project, and forms must be completed.
The Jewish People In Its Greatness And Beauty
After the allocations department, the visiting Gedolim ask to see the special funds department.
The special funds department is bleeding. The application forms are wet with tears. They are weighed down by the heavy tragedies enfolded within them.
“A special fund is intended to provide intensive help for an emergency case that a regular allocation is insufficient for,” explains the gabbai.
And there are a great many like that.
Just now, a dear father passed away after a very difficult illness. His orphan children cry every night, pleading that he come back, and the almanah is trying to put their life back together, alone. They have almost no income at all, and a lot of debts have accumulated from his illness. How can she juggle six-figure debts in addition to facing the tragedy itself?
The Rabbanim are going over the forms and some of them are shocking. A young woman with a rare intestinal illness. She is unable to function. She can’t put in a load of laundry, can’t cook, and surely can’t go on errands out of the home. Her husband turns the world upside down, desperately searching for a medication or treatment that can help her, but even for the cab fare to the hospital he needs to borrow from the neighbors.
There are so many people sick with unusual illnesses, widows and widowers, orphans of all ages, families that collapsed financially or emotionally, impoverished geirei tzedek all on their own in the world, brides and grooms who have nothing… the special funds committee is loaded to the breaking point with various problems and calamities. Here is where they receive support and consolation from the Jewish people.
“With each special fund, money is raised separately for that specific case, and the money is kept in a dedicated bank account in the family’s name,” explains the gabbai of Vaad Harabbanim. “From a special fund for orphans, for instance, we will finance bar mitzvos and weddings for the yesomim or cover other big expenses.”
Here, too, there is close supervision and follow-up for every transaction in the fund’s bank account. The income and expenditures are recorded exactly, with date, sum and other details of the transaction.
Harav Zafrani shlita is deeply moved and shares a personal episode. “Someone who prays in our beit kenesset became a widower twenty years ago, when his children were still young. A special fund was set up for them in Vaad Harabbanim, and that is how he managed to marry off the yetomim, down to the last child, who got married a few months ago.
“The widower mentioned to me recently that during these twenty years he was amazed again and again by the exemplary way that Vaad Harabbanim managed the affairs! With reliability and absolute transparency, down to the last penny in the special fund. Only thanks to this tremendous hesed were his yetomim able to marry!”
This is how every special fund is managed… the Rabbanim of the Vaad supervise and guide, the questions are presented to the Gedolei Hador, and the dedicated gabbaim work day and night to raise the money needed to rescue thousands of families.
“Many times, we need to put in unending labor in order for a certain fund to see success,” one of the gabbaim shares. Those present in the room nod their heads. They know what it means… the Rabbanim of the Vaad labor, day and night, to rescue the families in need, and when, for example, it is a case of a sick father who must fly abroad for a critical operation within a week, the schedule is very challenging.
But for Vaad Harabbanim, nothing is impossible. Special siyata d’Shmaya accompanies Vaad Harabbanim’s activities, and when necessary, the Jewish people give even six-figure sums within two days in order to save a life.
For Your Sake, Hashem!
Then the visiting Gedolim go to review the “I will remove sickness” fund that was established by Moreinu Harav Hagaon Hagadol R’ Chaim Kanievsky zt”l and Moreinu the Rebbe of Vizhnitz shlita.
The “I will remove sickness” fund was established for the patients and their families whose lives are turned upside down and inside out due to severe illness. “Among them are cases that were close to death,” wrote the Gedolei Hador in their letter.
Moreinu Harav Hagaon Hagadol R’ Chaim Kanievsky zt”l and Moreinu the Rebbe of Vizhnitz shlita promised to all those who participate in the fund that they will be saved from all illnesses, midah k’neged midah!
“Now, over two hundred more complicated medical cases have accumulated in Vaad Harabbanim and they need to be addressed urgently.” The gabbaim of the Vaad open folders. Complex medical forms, difficult diagnoses, desperate calls for help from sick fathers and mothers, sick children, and family members who don’t remember routine life anymore. Urgent and significant help is again needed from Am Yisrael.
כי אני ה’ רופאך” “– so quotes Harav Zafrani shlita, excitedly. “It is certain that anyone who donates, Moreinu Sar Hatorah Harav Hagaon R’ Chayim Kanievsky zt”l will intercede for him in Heaven above, as he promised and worked so many yeshu’ot during his lifetime for Vaad Harabbanim’s donors. כל המחלה וגו’ לא אשים!”
The offices of Vaad Harabbanim are getting ready at this time for the Elul and Rosh Hashanah campaign, and for distribution of allocations for the chagim.
Jews are looking for zechuyos for Yom Hadin. The coming year is hanging in the balance. And the tzedakah of Vaad Harabbanim, the thousands of families that receive support, thanks to the donations of Klal Yisrael – they are the Melitzei Yosher by which the Jewish people will merit a good and sweet year!
“During the days of rachamim, we say זכרנו לחיים למענך אלקים חיים. This is Vaad Harabbanim!” so declare the Gedolei Hador, excitedly. “When the Jewish people care for and support the children of Hakadosh Baruch Hu, these zechuyos bestow on us life!”
The visit comes to an end. The folders close. Each of the gabbaim of Vaad Harabbanim returns to his responsibilities. The Jewish people are waiting for them: the recipients, that this tzedakah enables them to live, and the donors, that this tzedakah protects their lives and tips the scales for them, to bring them לחיים טובים ולשלום.
The Heilige Brocho That was pronounced by the holy mouth of the pillar of Tefilah, Torah and Horaah Moreinu Harav Hagaon Hagadol Harav Mordechai Gross Shlita
When he visited the department of support and hatzalas nefashos in Vaad Harabbanim Together with Moreinu Harav Hagaon Hagadol Shlomo Yedidiah Zafrani Shlita:
“It is known and clear and agreed by all that it will be so, that whoever donates to Vaad Harabbanim Will Not Need Doctors Or Medicines And will not even know of such things, on the contrary, he will merit making simchas in his home and having nachas from all his offspring.”