Tuesday, June 15th, 2021, was originally planned as a typical day of school at Magen David Yeshivah. However, as Hashem would have it, the building would be blessed and privileged with a unique and glorious event – an honorable visit by the former Chief Rabbi of Israel, and current Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Hacham Shlomo Amar, shlit”a. Students from kindergarten through eighth grade arrived with great anticipation, all dressed in their crisp blue and white uniforms, and awaited a most sacred and special experience. The red carpet was rolled out, literally. The risers for the choir were erected. Spaces were roped off to provide a safe and spacious walkway for the Rabbi and his escorts. The stage was set, and the audience began to arrive.
A Royal Welcome
The middle schoolers, lined up along the driveway, stood in respectful silence while a full entourage accompanied the Hacham to add honor to his escort. Those included in the procession were the Rosh Yeshivah Rabbi Harold Sutton, Chief Rabbi Saul J. Kassin, Mashgiach Ruhani Rabbi Joey Haber, Principal Rabbi Ezra Cohen-Saban, Religious Advisor Rabbi Joey Mizrahi, Rabbi David Sultan, Rabbi Max Sutton, Mr. Jack Avital, and Mr. Harry Adjmi. Rabbi Amar approached the entrance to the building and the lobby fell silent. He was greeted by hundreds of students. The kindergarten and first grade students stood on either side and the fourth grade students watched from the mezzanine level. As he stood in the doorway, the choir began to sing Yaheed El Dagul. The Rabbi was visibly moved by the impressive welcome. He gave the famous blessing of Yaakov Abinu – Hamalach Hagoel to all those present, and he imparted words of Torah.
Next, the Rabbi was ushered into a packed auditorium with students and teachers standing with reverence for the great talmid hacham. As he made his way down the center aisle, Rabbis and students kissed his hands and were blessed. The audience was silent and respectful, eager to hear the sage’s words and powerful message.
Introductory remarks were offered by the principal, Rabbi Ezra Cohen-Saban, who then welcomed Rabbi Saul Kassin to speak to the assembly. Rabbi Kassin spoke directly to the students, helping them frame the context of this inspiring visit. He related his memories of himself as a young MDY student witnessing the visit of the great Hacham Ovadia Yosef, zt”l, and how it was an unforgettable moment, forever etched in his soul. Rabbi Kassin explained how it is the kedusha of the Torah that Rabbi Amar represents that we revere. The kavod we bestow upon the man is for the wisdom and life of Torah he holds and imparts onto those in his presence. Before introducing Mr. Harry Adjmi, Rabbi Kassin instructed the children to do three things when the Rabbi speaks – stand to give kabod la’Torah, as the Rabbi is like a walking sefer Torah, listen to the holy words of Torah that the Rabbi will speak, and answer amen to the Rabbi’s blessings, which will, be’ezrat Hashem, come true for everyone.
Rabbi Amar’s Warm Response and Words of Torah
Rabbi Amar stood regally with such a strong, yet warm demeanor, with his royal robe and bright radiant expression. The Hacham, visibly moved by the experience, spoke in a well-paced and articulate Hebrew, allowing the students to absorb his message. His words of Torah and the blessings he bestowed on the audience were powerful. In an extraordinary measure, the Rabbi asked everyone to rise and repeat after him the words of Shema Yisrael and other verses in which we accept Hashem’s sovereignty in the world. Echoing his words of tefillah in unison was a life-altering experience that will forever remain with everyone present! It was a truly magnificent moment and our prayers were surely accepted by Hashem.
The Chief Rabbi then exited the auditorium and was greeted by the second and third grade students, as well as the recent eighth grade graduates. He graciously offered his blessings and imparted his final message before leaving.
It is a rare and precious opportunity to be in the presence of someone who lives such a pure life of Torah. Magen David was zoche to be honored by the great presence of the holy Rabbi and be’ezrat Hashem, may it continue to merit the adage, “יהי ביתך בית ועד לחכמים”, until the coming of Mashiah, amen!