which yeshiva they will attend next year , it is a critical time for learning and shteigin and for maturing as bachurim .”
In his own classroom , Rav Lan seeks to raise the bar , challenging his talmidim to broaden their horizons in the sugya , learning more Tosafos and delving deeper into the lomdus of each Gemara . “ My motto is , ‘ Let ’ s see if we can do this ,’” he says . “ A bachur cannot rest on his laurels . Of course , if I see that not all of the boys comprehend a point , I will leave it off the next test — no one should feel like a failure . But in the process , we cover new ground and the bachurim learn that they can push themselves further . My goal is to do whatever it takes to enable every single boy to be matzliach .”
Beyond Gemara , Rav Lan teaches from Sefer Chofetz Chaim every day , impressing on the boys the power and impact of the spoken word . “ Every time you open your mouth , you need to be careful ” not to hurt another person , he tells them . In the latter part of the day the class learns Chumash , and Rav Lan makes sure to highlight fundamental messages of hashkafa and middos embedded in the pesukim , showing his talmidim that the Torah is their handbook for every facet of life .
The mesorah that Rav Dovid Lan received from his illustrious rabbeim , especially Rav Chaim Leib Epstein zt ” l , permeates everything he does inside and outside the classroom . But perhaps it finds its greatest expression in the principle of Kavod HaTorah , which was a running theme in Rav Chaim ’ s shmuessin and indeed his life .
How does a mesorah that Rav Lan absorbed from Rav Chaim , who in turn received it in the middle of the last century from Rav Aharon Kotler zt ” l , have relevance to the lives of the exuberant eighth graders of 2022 ?
Rav Lan is unfazed by the challenge . “ When I talk about Kavod HaTorah , it ’ s on their level . They can hear it . There are so many things that Reb Chaim cared about that still have resonance today , even for young boys .” One example is how he addresses the ubiquitous tefillin bags that come with a shoulder strap . While it may be convenient , Rav Lan urges the boys not to carry their most sacred possession like a knapsack . “ Hold it like this , close to your heart ,” he demonstrates , echoing his great rebbi and instilling so many unspoken lessons with a few words .
Another manifestation of Kavod HaTorah is the tzurah and decorum that the talmidim are expected to maintain not only when davening , but in the classroom as well . “ I won ’ t start shiur if the room is messy or if shirts are untucked after a ball game ,” he asserts . He will not dismiss the boys at the end of limudei kodesh until the room is in order as well .
The Vilna Gaon
שלשלת המסורה LINKS in a Golden Chain
Rav Chaim Volozhiner ( founder of the Yeshiva movement ) Rav Yosef Zundel of Salant Rav Yisroel Salanter ( founder of the Mussar Movement ) Rav Simcha Zissel Ziv , the Alter of Kelm Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel , the Alter of Slabodka Rav Aharon Kotler , founder of Beth Medrash Govoha
Rav Chaim Leib Epstein , Rosh Yeshiva of Zichron Meilech
Rav Dovid Lan
Undoubtedly the overarching theme that runs through Rav Dovid Lan ’ s work in Yeshiva — both as a rebbi and as menahel — is ahava . It is a boundless love , one that even a casual observer will discern as he encourages , motivates , teaches and guides his young charges — a love for them , a love for the Torah , and a love for the rich mesorah that he is heir to and that he strives to implant in them every single day .
Rav Lan says that he senses that ahava throughout the Yeshiva , starting from Rav Yaakov Bender , the Rosh HaYeshiva , “ who trusts his rabbeim implicitly . He lets each rebbi teach his class with maximum latitude , using his own individual talents and approach . He does not interfere .”
And in turn , Rav Lan ’ s talmidim reciprocate that love to their own rebbi , even many years later . “ My children are shocked at how many chasunah invitations we get in the mail from talmidim . And my experience is not unique — all Darchei rabbeim will tell you the same .”
Forty-four years after that brief , life-changing remark from a rebbi that propelled him to a life of learning and Harbotzas Torah , Rav Dovid Lan ’ s efforts continue to bear abundant fruit , evident in the innumerable alumni of his class who have grown into true talmidei chachamim and learned baalei batim . All of them bear the enduring imprint of his and all of their rabbeim ’ s limitless ahava and fealty to the glorious mesorah . !
32 BEDARCHEI HATORAH WINTER 5782 / 2022