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RABBI MORDECHAI ELEFANT’S MEMOIRS Title suggestion (Pini Dunner): “AN ELEPHANT NEVER FORGETS” Candid memories from the Rosh Yeshiva of ITRI, Rav Mordechai Elefant (1930-2009). The memoirs were dictated by him some years before his death but never edited for publication, nor published. These are transcriptions, with minor corrections, of the original dictation cassettes. Fra erat you have to do, Be a waiter. Devote your life to serving others. Do whatever has fo be done, Then at the end, you won't be hit witha big tab Fund ri it be a nite. Much f my career hasbeen devo to geting fering fr my insttaions, What people don't realize is that Ive raised bags oe ‘or other yeshiva, ostensibly my competition. But I've never had thence wes egestas the only show in town, or that it shouldbe It's enough fore tet i's the best. rauSty 80.1 wasn Bnei Brak the most religious city in Irae. gavea lecture toa ieutand people atte Ramat Elchanan synagogue. ARerwards, some poop ceee the venerable sage, Rav Eliezer Shach, came over to me Jia ets Ait grat hin many years of god heath —is over a hundred years Git. He was feeling ow that night. These fellows asked me to come ove te dec toy We glad known Rav Shach ever since I came to Israel over forty years eats aad Were good friends, foitvou have tobe the plumber, you be the plumber. I'you have to be the court ‘ester, you be the cour jester. You do whatever has to be done REB NOCHUM (One of my students, Vitzchok Hirshowitz, moved ffom Ir tothe Mrrer Yeshivah to hear the shrur (lecture in Talmud) of Reb Nochum Pertzowite. Reb Nochum and | were great tind. He calls me up one day several months later, and inthe couse of the conversation he says, I have a tric student, a fellow named Yitzchok Hirshowitz. You don’ have guys like tha.” He obviously had forgotten Hirshowitz's| origins. | told him, “What are you talking about? He's one of mine. He learned from me.” Reb Nochum took Hirshowitz from Iti without my permission | personaly didn’t ‘mind tat he let. He needed the polish that Mir could give him. Reb Nochum told Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz (his father-in-law and rosh yeshinahof the Mirer Yeshivah) ‘what happened, and Rav Chaim told him that from then on he was not to take student fiom me without permission, He started asking my permission, and | would grat it re was one ofthe greatest geniuses I ever knew. ‘On another occasion, Reb Nochum commented on my generosity of spirit in letting sm best students the group that included Gelber, Nowogrodsi, Eisenthal - goto the Ieture he would give on Saturday nights. I told him that I was lke the woman who ‘King Solomon judged. She was willing to part with her son as long ashe would survive, These boys are my sons. I don't cae if they go to somebody else as long as it’s for their good. [told him that he’s got an approach tothe study of Rashi that they won't get from anybody ese Reb Nochum told ths to Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz, and he was very pleased. I used to ask Rav Chaim to come give a talk some time at It, but he would always have some ‘excuse. "My Hebrew isnt so good,” or something like that, But after he heard this, he came right away. ‘When one of my best students got married, the wedding took place here on the yeshivah campus. Hisftherin-law-to-be, a prominent scholar, told me that he was ‘going to honor Rav Chaim Shmuelevite with siddur ldushon (officiating atthe ‘wedding). [old him, "Justa minute. I'm the one who's paying forthe wedding, and Yow re giving ut the honors? I'm going to take that honor for myself.” [Atte wedding, I had the master of ceremonies announce, “Rav Flefant honors Rav ‘Chaim Shimuelevitz with siddur fdushin” | know my pace. sometimes, Reb Nochum used to come hereto give a feture once ina while. But when he got sick | stopped invitinghim. He had to interrupt his lectures every twenty or thity ‘minutes to step out, Mhought it would be embarassing for histo come here, 301 stopped calling him,