One of the most charismatic young rabbis in education today is Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, the Mashgiach Ruchani at the DRS High School in Woodmere. Recently Rabbi Cohen assembled in book form (“From The Heart of a Lion,” Penina Press) a series of eloquent and timely essays themed to each parasha in Bereshis, the book of Genesis. The content of each chapter fully lives up to the rabbi’s reputation of combining his analytic learning style with anecdotes relating to life’s experiences.
In this week’s parasha, Noach, we find Rabbi Cohen’s gift of relating a personal relationship as a tool to demonstrate respect for authority especially in terms of religious reverence and mentorship.
The rabbinical authority in this essay was HaRav Nosson Finkel, zt”l, the Rosh Yeshiva of the Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem, who was in Rabbi Cohen’s words the “foundation of my life as a Jew.”
This relationship as described by Rabbi Cohen in the most heartfelt manner will serve as the bulk of this essay demonstrating the author’s style and the greatness of his subject.
“From the time I began to attend his weekly Erev Shabbos shmooze in his house while I was still learning in Keren B’Yavneh, I immediately needed to stay close to the Rosh Yeshiva whenever possible,” writes Rabbi Cohen. “Eventually, I had the zechus to learn in the Mir for a zeman and further strengthen my kesher. I was constantly asking for advice and learning from the Rosh Yeshiva. It was a relationship that continued after leaving the Yeshiva. … The final time I was zoche to be in the Rosh Yeshiva’s presence was exactly one month before his Petirah [passing] on the 11th of Tishre, 5772, the day after Yom Kippur., and the parting kiss is still felt. So much of who I am today is owed to the Rosh Yeshiva.”
This experience with Rav Finkel, of blessed memory, is reflected in the passion of love that permeates throughout the teachings of Rabbi Cohen. Consider the following: