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Section: Stories   Category: Gadlus
The Ascent of Three Malachim

Klal Yisroel lost three senior Malachim over the past two weeks. They ascended to Shamayim with over 300 years of Torah and Avodah between them. No one could claim to be untouched as these three gedolim were the senior Roshei Yeshiva from the three main Torah centers of the world, Rav Yitzchok Dov Koppelman from Europe, Rav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz of Eretz Yisroel and, Rav Chaim Stein from America.

What made them Malachim? At the levaya of Rav Chaim Stein one of the maspidim explained as follows. The gemara in Moed Katan brings the pasuk in Malachi (2:7), "Ki Sifsei Koten Yismiru Daas V'Sorah Yivakshu MiPihu Ki Mlach Hashem Tzivakos". The gemara learns that if your Rebbi is like a Malach Hashem then you may learn Torah from him, but if he is anything short of a Malach you should not learn Torah from him. What does this mean?

Chazal classify a Malach as an Omeid, and a person as a Holeich. A Malach is created Kadosh V'Tahor and that is how he remains during his entire existence. A Malach is not a Baal Bechira and cannot make choices that tarnish him with Chait. A person is a Holeich, he is constantly on the move. He is created instinctiveley selfish from birth, and possesses every possible bad middah. His job is to constantly ascend beyond his humanity and use his neshama to overcome his Guf. If he reaches his goal he far greater than a Malach. His mission is to strive higher and higher never being complacent or happy where he is.

So where lies the greatness in a Rebbi being Domeh L'Malach? The maspid explained that a good Rebbi is totally focused on the growth of his Talmid and willing to sacrifice his own growth in the process. A Rebbi who teaches for personal ambitions, to get a better job, to earn a good reputation, he is a Rebbi you should not learn from. Rav Chaim Stein was a Malach, said the Maspid. Rav Chaim had many ambitions in life, among them publishing his Seforim, but he also had priorities which were to develop his Talmidim. His own ambitions always took a back seat as he remained firmly in his place as a Mechanech above all. His growth came through his talmidim.

Surely the same can be said about Rav Koppelman who was content to spend many decades hidden away in a small corner in Europe, doing nothing other than being Mechanech the Talmidim that chose to make the trek to this small town barely an outpost on the map of Jewish communal centers. How often in the outside world does person remain in his relatively modest position without seeking advancement for a half a century or more? This was Rav Koppelman the Malach who was happy to be Omeid Al Mishmarto.

How amazing that the two Gedolim of Eretz Yisroel and the world, Rav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz and Yibadel bein Chaim L'Chaim Rav Aharon Leib Shteiman shlit"a were not even Roshei Yeshiva of a Yeshiva Gedola. Both stood in partnership at the helm of a Yeshiva for the younger boys for decades and decades. Neither sought to lead a major Yeshiva Gedola that would have advanced them up the corporate ladder faster and earlier, although surely they were offered many positions.

Our great gedolim are true Malachim. They are happy teaching Torah to anyone who wants to hear, no matter who and no matter where. They do not strive for the limelight not in Ruchniyus and surely not in Gashmiyus. The only thing they yearn to do is to constantly sing Boruch Kvod Hashem, praised is the honor of Hashem. Mimkomo, from their place where ever Hashem has put them. From there they can reach higher than the highest peaks.