The Way the Rosh Yeshiva Would Like It


On Friday night, the 7th of Teves, Rav Shimon Zeffren’s holy neshamah was taken by the One Above, plunging talmidim and admirers into mourning. The heart that pulsated with ahavas haTorah, ahavas Hashem and ahavas talmidim ceased to beat.

It was hard to fathom. How could it be? What was there to say?

It was just a number of months ago that Yeshiva Gedola of Montreal, a bastion of Torah in

Québec’s largest city, launched its Beacon Through Time campaign to mark 50 years of dedication to the yeshiva by the rosh yeshiva, Rav Shimon Zeffren. The campaign was designed to honor Rav Zeffren for his remarkable dedication to the yeshiva and his talmidim, reconnecting alumni of various tekufos with their alma mater. As part of the effort, a Sefer Torah campaign was inaugurated.

The campaign took off with tremendous energy and enthusiasm. And how could it not? Who was a more beloved figure in Montreal than Rav Zeffren?

The campaign began, making stops in Montreal itself, and in Toronto, Lakewood and Brooklyn. The latter event was held on December 19 with the participation of Rav Zeffren. Talmidim spanning a period of 40 years attended and reconnected. Young fathers stood side by side with grandfathers, all sharing one common bond, the bond forged with the rosh yeshiva and his rebbetzin.

Why, of course, the rebbetzin.

Rebbetzin Zeffren has been an integral part of the Yeshiva Gedolah of Montreal experience. A steady presence at the yeshiva, Rebbetzin Zeffren always accompanied and supported her husband, while worrying about the talmidim, saving their wedding invitations and reveling in their hatzlacha and nachas.

It was no wonder that Rebbetzin Zeffren accompanied the rosh yeshiva to all the cities featuring campaign events.

Rav and Rebbetzin Zeffren had been scheduled to visit the Five Towns during February, and a date for the dinner and hachnosas Sefer Torah, to be held the same day in tribute to the rosh yeshiva, had been set.

And then tragedy struck. .

What would the talmidim do without their beloved rosh yeshiva, who meant the world to them? Who would they look up to now? Who would serve as their role model, demonstrating the type of lives they should live and the kinds of families they should lead?

Montreal is named after Mt. Royal, the triple-peaked hill at its heart, but local residents knew that the true royalty of this Canadian city could be found at the front of Yeshiva Gedolah’s bais medrash, where Rav Zeffren sat for decades at his shtender, immersed in his Gemara and dispensing pearls of Torah wisdom and hashkafah to generations of talmidim.

And now he is no longer at our side.

Yet, despite the pain and the gaping void left by the rosh yeshiva’s petirah, the talmidim knew that if the rosh yeshiva were here, he would instruct them to carry on in their avodas hakodesh and hachzokas haTorah.

In his humility, he would tell the Yeshiva Gedolah of Montreal family that everything Hashem does is for the best, that their job is to keep moving forward in their Torah and avodah, and that his absence shouldn’t mitigate their efforts or drive one iota.

And so, with the support of Rav Zeffren’s family, the yeshiva family, still numb from grief and grappling with their loss, has carried on, rebranding the dinner campaign and hachnosas Sefer Torah that was to be held in tribute to Rav Zeffren to be held instead in memory of him.

On June 7, the first Sunday after Shavuos, the hachnosas Sefer Torah l’illui nishmas Rav Zeffren will take place in conjunction with the yeshiva’s dinner, which will be dedicated to the perpetuation of the rosh yeshiva’s legacy.

Those who have already participated have encouraged the yeshiva’s hanhalah to continue its efforts in arranging the dinner and Sefer Torah campaign. Those who have not yet stepped up are now doing so l’illui nishmas their beloved rosh yeshiva, who never stopped inspiring them, encouraging them, and being there for them.

Because that’s exactly the way the rosh yeshiva would have liked it.

The yeshiva is now headed in the same direction in which Rav Zeffren led it, continuing his legacy, utilizing his inspiration and example to guide it forward.

Rav Zeffren loved his talmidim profusely, and during his final months, he utilized the Sefer Torah campaign as a means of expressing that ahavah and care.

Now, that very Sefer Torah will be a conduit to perpetuate the legacy of the beloved rosh yeshiva.

As Rav Shlomo Avigdor Altusky, a yedid ne’eman of Rav Zeffren, in his hesped on the rosh yeshiva, remarked about the Sefer Torah campaign, “Avade (certainly) it needs to continue….l’zeicher nishmaso.”

Rav Zeffren fled from kavod and accolades. He sought no recognition of status and cringed from recognition. He simply wished to learn Torah, be marbitz Torah, be mechanech talmidim, and be fully devoted to avodas Hashem.

His whole life was devoted lehagdil Torah ulehaadirah.

And now, with Rav Zeffren no longer with us, talmidim and others inspired by what he stood for have the zechus and opportunity to take part in the current campaign in his memory to support his yeshiva.

We have been given a gift, an opportunity to keep Rav Zeffren’s flame burning bright and make him proud.

Because that’s the way the rosh yeshiva would have liked it.

To participate in this campaign please email us at [email protected] or call us at 514.691.4075

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