It was the summer of 1977 and Dovid Lan was a young bachur at Camp Toras Chesed in Swan Lake , New York , one of the first “ learning camps ” of the yeshiva world , where the bulk of a bachur ’ s days and evenings were spent doing one thing : learning .
At mealtimes , the future rebbi and menahel was privileged to serve as the waiter for two distinguished talmidei chachamim : Rav Shmuel Miller and Rav Chaim Leib Epstein , zichronam livracha . Prime talmidim of Maran Rav Aaron Kotler zt ” l , they were both maggidei shiur in the Yeshiva of Eastern Parkway , where Dovid had learned since Pre-1A . Later they would start their own yeshivos : Rav Miller , a son of Rav Avigdor Miller zt ” l , established Yeshiva Gedolah Beis Yisroel , while Rav Epstein founded Yeshiva Gedolah Zichron Meilech . Despite interacting with them and their families multiple times a day , there was a certain yiras hakavod , a distance born of reverence , between the young bachur and these two giants .
On the last day of camp , Rav Shmuel Miller stopped Dovid Lan on the lawn as he passed by , exclaiming with a wide smile , “ Ah ! I ’ m looking forward to having you in my shiur next year .”
Rav Lan recalls , “ I was taken aback . I looked around . I thought to myself , ‘ Who is he talking to ?’ It made such an impression on me : He wants to learn with me ! I just felt connected to him . Everything grew from there .”
Today , as he teaches a Yeshiva Darchei Torah eighth grade class for the 25th consecutive year and leads the entire eighth grade division — the Mechina — as menahel , Rav Lan brings a duality of experiences to his mission . On the one hand , he fills his role as a disseminator of the mesorah that he received from his august rabbeim with the utmost gravity ; at the same time he is constantly seeking opportunities to lift up his talmidim — as nascent talmidei chachamim and as people — with a well-timed compliment or encouraging word .
It is a long way in time and space from the grassy , hallowed ground of Camp Toras Chesed 1977 , but the boost he gained that day — and the mesorah he subsequently absorbed as a talmid of those gedolim — define Rav Dovid Lan ’ s mission as he cultivates the next generation of Torah leaders .
Located on the second floor of Mesivta Chaim Shlomo , the Zichron Avinoam Mussar Hall serves as the Yeshiva ’ s ezras nashim on Shabbos and Yomtov . During the week , bachurim and yungeleit can be found learning there at all hours , but in the morning it serves as the eighth grade ’ s beis medrash . During Shacharis it is the place where the talmidim not only daven beautifully but also observe their rabbeim in tefillah , learning by example how to commune with the Eibishter . The boys later gather there to study b ’ chavrusa with each other . It makes sense that they daven and learn apart from other grades and divisions , because this is a singular year .
Eighth grade , explains Rav Lan , is a pivotal juncture in a boy ’ s life . “ This is a bridge to mesivta . Regardless of
“ Eighth grade is a pivotal juncture in a boy ’ s life . This is a bridge to mesivta ... It is a critical time for learning and shteiging and for maturing as bachurim .”
BEDARCHEI HATORAH WINTER 5782 / 2022 31