Enter the ICJA building and find plaques on the opposite walls of Torah Awards and Chesed Awards, because Torah cannot exist without chesed, just as chesed cannot exist without Torah. Indeed, this was the message to the Academy students and staff today from Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau, who visited ICJA during his whirlwind tour of Chicago.
Some ICJA boys and Rabbi Matanky greeted the Chief Rabbi at the airport for minyan on Wednesday evening. On Thursday, Rabbi Lau spoke at an all-school assembly, sharing the following lesson from his father, former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, on Torah and chesed.
Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau was a teen when he visited the home of then Chief Rabbi Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog for daily minyan, where he always found the Rav with a sefer. Chief Rabbi David Lau told the story of one time when his father instead found Rav Herzog zt”l crying after reading a letter from an orphan. It was from this incident that Torah greatness must coincide with chesed. Chief Rabbi David Lau said, “To keep your Torah to yourself is nothing. You need to remember that Torah is life, and what is really life is Torat chesed. If you ehard a problem of a young Jew, you need to feel it. This is our Torah.”
Explaining this to the elder Rav Lau, Rav Herzog zt”l also gave him a bracha that he will become a rav. “Maybe it is because of his blessing the the son of that yeshiva boy he blessed is sitting today in his exact same chair,” said Chief Rabbi Lau.
Following his speech, Chief Rabbi Lau and his wife greeted all the students and gave brachot to those who asked.
The afternoon offered our students a tremendous opportunity to meet a rav of such stature.