May 18, 2024
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The Story of Reb Moshe Reichmann

Highlighting: “Building for Eternity: The Life and Legacy of Reb Moshe Reichmann” by Yisroel Besser. ArtScroll/Mesorah. 2021. English. Hardcover. 344 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1422630075.

(Courtesy of Artscroll) In “Building for Eternity,” Yisroel Besser brings us the extraordinary story of Reb Moshe Reichmann. It’s a story of honesty, modesty, profound bitachon—and deep love for Hashem, His Torah and His people.

From modest beginnings, Reb Moshe Reichmann built his family firm, Olympia and York, into one of the world’s largest construction companies. It became a symbol of business integrity, a global kiddush Hashem. He built shuls and schools, kollelim and kehillas, impacting almost every aspect of Torah life. He gave more than just funding: he gave time, attention, genuine concern and spot-on advice.

The most respected financiers on earth were in awe of him. World leaders paid him homage. Yet he remained the modest ben Torah that he’d been as a young man, deferring always to the gedolim and making Torah study the central part of his life.

The author of the bestseller “Just Love Them” brings us another inspiring biography that shows just how much potential for greatness lies in every one of us.

More than what Reb Moshe Reichmann gave people, and more than what he taught them, it’s what he did to them. He elevated them, their encounters with him investing them with some of what made him extraordinary.

Talmidei chachamim remembered early dreams, the majesty inherent in their task, while businesspeople were reminded of the dignity and prestige they had once believed possible. Like a true melech, who uplifts the masses simply by being, his dignity influenced them all.

And so those who merited knowing Reb Moshe Reichmann hold on to those conversations, messages, notes, pictures—and the stories, each one layered with meaning and significance. And it is these precious stories that have come together in this new, magnificent book.

Not long after Reb Moshe’s passing, Rav Lipa Geldwerth was visiting his rebbe, Rav Moshe Shapira, along with his own son-in-law, a grandson of Reb Moshe Reichmann. He introduced the young man, and Rav Moshe, who measured his words carefully, reflected, “Just as there are geonei hador in limud haTorah, there are geonei hador in hachzakat haTorah.”

Reb Moshe Reichmann was one of those select few.

After reviewing the initial manuscript of this book, Reb Moshe’s eldest son was uneasy about something.

“It’s very nice, and accurate,” he said, “but here is the question. If someone has a good month in business just after he reads this book, will he realize that the single greatest thing he can do with his money is to support Torah? That a kollel, any kollel, even if it isn’t prestigious or famous, is the greatest investment possible? That needs to come through in this book, because that is my father’s legacy.”

There you have it. There was a childhood heavy in heroism, teenage years of remarkable diligence and young adulthood filled with mesirat nefesh to teach others. There was a business career extraordinary in scope and success, an approach to real estate and finance that broke new ground, a reputation for dignity and integrity that marked Moshe Reichmann as unique.

There was generosity and vision, both for the tzibbur and the yachid, unequaled in the generation, and a blend of deep-seated yirat Shamayim, elevated middot and unshakable emunah.

But the legacy, at the very end, is a room lined with benches, people leaning over opened Gemaras learning Hashem’s Torah, and elsewhere, people working to earn a livelihood. Somehow, in some way, those dollars are elevated through this wondrous fusion of heaven and earth, this Divine arrangement that allows gold and silver to be transformed into eternity.

It is what he did, Reb Moshe Reichmann, giving his best years to the beis medrash, and even when he stepped out, he found the way back in.

Torah, we are taught, is the beste sechoirah.

That is the legacy, and that is the message of this inspiring book.

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