During the years that Rabbi Betzalel Zolty served as the Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Jerusalem, I headed his office. I joined him on a visit to the United States in December of 1981, when he was honored at a fundraising dinner on behalf of institutions of the Ger chasidim.
During that trip, Rabbi Zolty planned to meet a few important rabbis, such as Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, the leading halachic authority in America, Rabbi Yosef Ber Soloveitchik, the head of the rabbinic school of Yeshiva University, the Klausenberger Rebbe and the Lubavitcher Rebbe. In those years however, it was hard to obtain an appointment with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, as he was no longer meeting people as much as he had in the past, but I managed to arrange it.
When we came into the Rebbe’s office, the first thing that struck me was the simplicity of the room. The Rebbe stood up as we entered, walked around his desk and came right up to the door to greet Rabbi Zolty. He shook his hand warmly and invited him to sit down. After the initial greetings, an animated Torah discussion began between the two.
The first topic that Rabbi Zolty brought up was his concern that too few yeshivah graduates were interested in taking up positions in the rabbinate. This matter disturbed him greatly, and he would talk about it wherever he went. He believed it was important that, when in (more…)