July 8, 2024
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Binyamin Zwickler, z”l

“ותלמידי יותר מכולם”

It was with great interest that I read the article regarding the musical compositions of Binyamin Zwickler z”l (“‘Carry On,’ a Musical Legacy of Inspiration” April 29, 2021).

I was zoche to have a close relationship with Binyamin, first as his division head in Camp Heller, and then as his rebbe at the Yeshiva University High School for Boys-MTA.

I learn constantly from my talmidim. Not a day goes by without me learning something from my talmidim—whether it is in avodas Hashem, human nature, sports or culture—I am always learning and gaining from my talmidim.

Binyamin, too, taught me many things.

Binyamin was extremely bright and was the top of our shiur from day one. But this wasn’t what stood out to me. What stood out to me about Binyamin was his middos tovos, his menschlichkeit and his sincerity. I spent a lot of time with Binyamin, during good times and challenging times. However, Binyamin never despaired. He was always concerned with my well-being. In fact, the last time I saw Binyamin was in Sloan Kettering. I went to spend time with Binyamin during one of his chemo treatments. Binyamin did not look particularly well. He couldn’t swallow more than a few crumbs of a cookie at a time. However, his concern was for me. He took my arm and led me to the kosher buffet set up for lunch to make sure I had what to eat. He was constantly asking me about my family and about my talmidim in yeshiva. Before I left Binyamin for the last time I said “Take care of yourself.” Binyamin responded by saying: “I am fine. Hashem is taking care of me just fine. But you, rebbe, please stay safe and be well. Take care of yourself.”

I was stunned. In his weakened state, Binyamin, this beautiful person, was worried with my well-being, not his. His bitachon was solid.

Of course, such middos are the product of a special upbringing and mishpacha.

I look forward to hearing Binyamin’s compositions (which, true to Bimyamin’s humble nature, he never mentioned to me), and being uplifted by them as I continue to learn from my talmidim.

Rabbi Baruch Gopin
Rebbe, Yeshiva University High School for Boys
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