On Sunday morning, August 8, Chazaq’s kollel, Beit Nosson Meir, held a breakfast on behalf of the kollel, starting the new Elul z’man. The kollel was founded z’charon Moshe v’Leah and dedicated by the Sdayed family.

This kollel came about when Rav Noach Deutsch of Australia, who is a close friend of Rav Aharon Walkin zt”l, said to him, “How is it you are sitting and learning at home. You should be a rosh yeshivah!” This encouraged Rav Walkin to become the rosh yeshivah of the Chazaq kollel. Sadly, Rav Walkin was niftar during the pandemic, but this kollel, his legacy, is living on!

There are 12 rabbinic students (bachurim) as well as avreichim and balabatim who all come to learn in the kollel.

Rabbi Ilan Meirov, Director of Chazaq, welcomed everyone and shared a d’var Torah. He shared that we open the new z’man with mixed emotions. It’s a tremendous z’chus. “When a lion roars, who is not afraid?”

Elul has the symbol of an aryeh (lion). In Hebrew, each letter of aryeh stands for a different yom tov at this time of year. Alef is Elul, reish is Rosh HaShanah, yud is Yom Kippur, and hei is Hoshana Rabah. Our sages taught, “Who’s not scared of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur?” Then Rabbi Ilan said, “I’m not sure if we are scared.” He shared a powerful mashal.

If you go to the zoo and see a lion in a cage, then you aren’t frightened because there is a separation between you and the lion. If the separation is lifted, then you run from it. There is a cage separating us from Hashem and the Judgment Day. We are busy with sports and politics, and we are not afraid. “The goal of this yeshivah is to lift the cage and be in awe of Hashem, to look at the wonders of Hashem’s creations. Look at the human body! His creations! What a miracle! The kollel was initiated by Rav Walkin zt”l, and his vision was how we can bring everyone back to Hashem.” The kollel strives to be the keser, the crown, of our community. Rav Walkin’s message is that it’s not enough to just bring people close to Yiddishkeit with kiruv. We need leaders and rabbanim to carry on the tradition. If a k’hilah doesn’t have people sitting and learning all day, then the k’hilah won’t succeed. “We want 100 bachurim and 100 balabatim learning here. With everyone’s support, we are looking forward to lifting that cage!”

He shared how, four and a half years ago, Chazaq undertook to take children from public school and place them into yeshivah. Baruch Hashem, 1,062 children have been placed. This is a tremendous accomplishment, and it’s not enough, because there are 10,000 Jewish kids still in public school in our borough. [Writer’s Note: In addition to contributing to Chazaq for this important mitzvah, you can also please contribute to Our Jewish Children, which helps to defer the cost and encourages parents to place their students in yeshivah – www.ourjewishchildren.com.]

Rabbi Ilan stressed, “The Walkin family is a family of love! Rav Aharon Walkin’s brother, Rabbi Avrohom Walkin, is Co-Director of Chazaq’s J-Wave Teens’ Division.

Rabbi Michael Mansour, rosh yeshivah of Chazaq’s beis midrash, is determined to keep Rav Aharon Walkin’s legacy going.”

Then, Rabbi Yaniv Meirov, CEO of Chazaq, shared that we can bring a revolution. We need manpower. “We are going to build a big yeshivah. We have to spend more Torah. We need to build more Torah in our community.”

Next, Rabbi Michael Mansour, rosh yeshivah of Chazaq’s beis midrash, shared, “Torah has an effect on a place, even if no one comes to learn. A makom kodesh causes all the success of a place.” He noted that the two Rabbi Meirovs don’t have brakes. They just keep going, bli ayin ha’ra, and they see success in everything they touch. It turns to gold. This is because everything they do is l’sheim Shamayim. “The sky is the limit.” In Pirkei Avos, we learn that every day there is a bas kol going out. This is the embarrassment of the Torah. It asks, why aren’t people interested in Torah? People sitting and learning Torah in kollel hear the pain and embarrassment of Hashem that not all of klal Yisrael is learning Torah.

“We have to push ourselves now to be more connected to learning and supporting Torah. There is so much holiness in Chazaq.” He concluded that if we do anything l’sheim Shamayim, we have to get the ball rolling and then Hashem will do the rest!

Following this, Rabbi Avrohom Walkin spoke. “It is very hard for me to stand here.” He shared the pain of losing his brother personally but also as a tremendous loss for klal Yisrael. A loss for klal Yisrael is something you can’t get over, just as Yaakov Avinu couldn’t be comforted for the loss of Yosef. “Seeing the work of Rav Ilan and Rav Yaniv is unbelievable. It’s a humbling experience to see what they are doing.”

He noted that there is a war out there with assimilation and the temptations of the secular world. A lot of kids are falling and getting involved in things they shouldn’t. The battle is strong!

Rav Noach Deutsch, founder and supporter of the Chazaq kollel, and his rebbetzin took a 30-hour plane ride to come to the breakfast and show their support.

Everyone left inspired by this beautiful breakfast!

By Susie Garber