A Personal Tribute: Recollections and Lessons from my Rebbe and the Rebbe of Klal Yisroel – Rabbi Matisyahu Salomon ZT”L

By Rabbi Dovid Abenson

Introduction:

The recent loss of my revered Rebbi, HaRav HaGaon Rabbi Matisyahu Salomon has left a profound void in my heart as in the hearts of Klal Yisroel. As publications recount his extraordinary life, I am compelled to share my personal stories and interactions with him throughout the years. In doing so, I hope to offer readers a glimpse into the impactful moments that shaped my spiritual journey and serve as an inspiration for all to ascend higher in their Yiddishkeit.

A Journey to Gateshead

My path to becoming an educational consultant in Kodesh studies took an unexpected turn, guided by the wisdom and encouragement of Rabbi Matisyahu Salomon. I was initially immersed in my studies at the Glasgow Kollel obtaining Semicha when the growing needs of my family prompted a change. Rabbi Salomon, recognizing the challenges I faced, suggested relocating to Gateshead, emphasizing the chinuch advantages it offered for starting anew.

Upon settling in Gateshead, I took on the role of a Sunday kiruv teacher in Newcastle, was in charge of the shul’s men’s mikvah collecting the money erev Shabbos when the bochurim would come and I became actively involved as a shamash in the local Gateshead shul, Rabbi Rakov, zt”l, the esteemed rav at that time, imparted invaluable guidance, emphasizing the significance of the role of a shamash in a Kehillah. (And he told me great rabbonim came from being a shammash in a shul ). Little did I know that this seemingly modest position would play a pivotal role in shaping my future endeavors.

Several years later, a friend approached me with an unexpected opportunity. Rabbi Zvi Zobin, a respected scholar visiting from Israel, was conducting a course in town. Intrigued by the prospect, I sought counsel from Rabbi Salomon, who not only endorsed the idea but went a step further by offering to cover the expenses of the course. Encouraged by his support, I eagerly enrolled in Rabbi Zobin’s course, setting the stage for a transformative experience.

The Remarkable Encounter with Rabbi Zobin

My initial encounter with Rabbi Zvi Zobin was nothing short of remarkable. The course delved into the intricacies of Hebrew reading, offering insights and evaluations that I had never encountered before. Rabbi Zobin’s method of identifying and rectifying reading issues left a lasting impression on me, underscoring the depth of his understanding and expertise in the field.

Recognizing the importance of practical experience, Rabbi Zobin encouraged me to practice with as many people as possible. Faced with the challenge of limited numbers in Gateshead, I devised a unique approach. Utilizing my Friday responsibilities of collecting the money from bochurim attending the Mikvah, I seized the opportunity to engage with hundreds of individuals, asking questions and drawing on their learning experiences. This unconventional method not only provided me with practical training but also affirmed the effectiveness of Rabbi Zobin’s teachings.

The weeks spent collecting funds and interacting with bochurim became a crash course in real-world application. The insights gained during these encounters, combined with Rabbi Zobin’s teachings, equipped me with a unique skill set that would prove invaluable in the years to come. The success of this unconventional training method reinforced the notion that innovation and adaptability are often the keys to overcoming challenges.

As I reflect on this chapter of my journey, I am grateful for the guidance of Rabbi Salomon and the unexpected opportunities that paved the way for my transition into education consulting. Little did I know that these seemingly disparate experiences would converge to shape my future role in addressing educational challenges and making a meaningful impact in the community.

A Shared Vision for Change

Two decades later, with Rabbi Salomon firmly established in Lakewood, I felt compelled to address the pressing issues within the educational system. The decline in children’s reading abilities had reached alarming levels, and I knew something had to be done. In a heartfelt conversation with Rabbi Salomon, I expressed my concerns, urging us to take action. His response reflected a shared commitment to making a positive impact.

However, amid our plans for collaboration, Rabbi Salomon faced a health setback, requiring a significant operation. Undeterred, he assured me of his intent to join forces once he recuperated, traveling together to promote our educational program across North America. Regrettably, despite his enduring spirit, Rabbi Solomon’s health did not fully recover, deteriorating over the years.

As Rabbi Salomon’s health declined, I faced the difficult reality that our shared vision for educational reform might never come to fruition. When I approached those close to him, including his rebbetzin, they conveyed the sobering news that he was not currently able to participate in such endeavors. The passing of the rebbetzin further deepened the sense of loss, leaving me grappling with the challenge of realizing our shared aspirations without his direct involvement.

Amid these challenging times, I found solace and purpose in the completion of a project that had consumed the better part of a decade. My book, a culmination of 30 years of work, was nearing completion. Eager to seek Rabbi Salomon’s guidance, I reached out to his son-in-law, who had taken over his responsibilities.

Seeking Guidance and Support

In our conversation, I shared my intentions and posed two crucial requests. Firstly, I sought another recommendation from Rabbi Salomon to add to the book. Secondly, I inquired about possibly launching the book in his honor, preferably at his residence. To my delight, his son-in-law, acting as a helpful intermediary during Rabbi Salomon’s health challenges, embraced the ideas and ensured that Rabbi Salomon was on board.

Rabbi Salomon’s response surpassed my expectations. While circumstances prevented the book launch in his house, he provided a beautiful recommendation, expressing his hope that the book would be received with love. This endorsement became a powerful testament to his enduring influence on my journey for over 40 years and the impact he continues to have even in his physical absence.

Conclusion:

In contemplating these significant chapters that have woven the tapestry of my life’s journey, an overwhelming sense of gratitude washes over me for the immeasurable support, unwavering guidance, and boundless inspiration bestowed upon me by Reb Matisyahu Salomon. His endorsement and encouragement have not merely influenced but sculpted the very trajectory of my life’s work.

The culmination of my book is not just a literary achievement but a living testament to the enduring legacy of Rabbi Salomon’s teachings. Each page echoes with the resonance of his profound wisdom, a timeless imprint that transcends the challenges of time. Despite the hurdles faced and the poignant absence of the book launch in his cherished home, Rabbi Salomon’s indomitable spirit permeates through every word, creating an ethereal connection that defies physical limitations.

As I traverse the landscape of my personal and professional growth, I am acutely aware of the debt I owe to Rabbi Salomon. His teachings have become an inseparable part of my journey, an eternal wellspring from which I draw strength and purpose. The completion of this book is not just a literary milestone; it is a tribute, a heartfelt expression of gratitude, and an acknowledgment of the profound impact Rabbi Matisyahu Salomon has had on shaping the narrative of my life.

In the tapestry of existence, Rabbi Solomon’s influence is an intricate thread, weaving through the fabric of my experiences, encounters, and aspirations. The challenges encountered along the way only serve to highlight the resilience and fortitude instilled by his teachings. Though the physical launch of the book in his home will remain unrealized, the spiritual essence of Rabbi Salomon continues to reside within the very essence of these pages, ensuring that his legacy lives on, touching the hearts and minds of those who embark on the literary journey.

In conclusion, my debt of gratitude extends beyond the words of this narrative. It is an ongoing commitment to carry forth the torch of Rabbi Matisyahu Salomon’s teachings, to inspire others, and to contribute positively to the world, just as he envisioned. The completion of this book is not an endpoint but a continuation—a continuation of his profound impact on my life and an invitation for readers to partake in the wisdom that transcends time, echoing the timeless truth that even in absence, a mentor’s influence endures.

——————–

With Hashem’s help, I will be publishing a book in Memory of my Rebbe, HaRav Matisyahu Salomon Zt’’l.

If you have any personal stories or photos to share please send them to: [email protected].

Sponsorship opportunities are also available. 

———————-

Rabbi Abenson is the founder and director of ShaarHatalmud, a unique yeshivah-based online program, which incorporates learning all Kodesh subjects, from Kriah up to learning Gemara, Rishonim, and Shulchan Aruch. He also conducts evaluations, remediation, and training, and consults with school principals to improve students’ underdeveloped skills.

Photo provided by http://fixanypix.com/.

This content, and any other content on TLS, may not be republished or reproduced without prior permission from TLS. Copying or reproducing our content is both against the law and against Halacha. To inquire about using our content, including videos or photos, email us at [email protected].

Stay up to date with our news alerts by following us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

**Click here to join over 20,000 receiving our Whatsapp Status updates!**

**Click here to join the official TLS WhatsApp Community!**

Got a news tip? Email us at [email protected], Text 415-857-2667, or WhatsApp 609-661-8668.

3 COMMENTS

Comments are closed.