Our Rabbi and the Yeshiva Students - Part 3

When Yeshivat Mercaz Ha-Rav was in its original building on Rav Kook Street, to our embarrassment and disgrace, there was a specific place right outside where people would wait for prostitutes. Every time the student left the study hall for any reason, they encountered this disgusting behavior, which was the complete opposite of the sanctity and holiness of the Yeshiva. The students complained to Rav Tzvi Yehudah and asked him to move the Yeshiva to a different place, but he told them that at the present time it was not possible. He did however offer a solution: The students need to be strong, and even though he agreed to move the Yeshiva when it became possible, this was not because they were running away or avoiding the problem. Rather, it was because of self-respect and courage. Rav Tzvi Yehudah told the students not to go into seclusion. He advised them to continue to behave as normal, training themselves not to look at the behavior that was occurring outside. The Tur writes about this in his introduction to Orach Chaim: "'Be as light as an eagle' (Pirkei Avot 5:20), refers to avoiding immodest behavior and actions that your eyes can see - just as an eagle swiftly glides through the air, you must be swift to close your eyes to prevent yourself from seeing immodest behavior, because the sight of negative behavior constitutes the beginning of sin. The eyes see and the heart desires and the organs capable of action culminate the sin." (From Taharat Ha-Brit by Rav Aviner, translated into English "Pure Again" by Melech Peltz pp. 125-126).

On one occasion our Rabbi arrived at the Yeshivah for a class in Tanach, but no students showed up. The Rabbi immediately stepped forward and began to lead the Maariv service. He informed the students that he would no longer be coming to the Yeshivah. When they responded: "But Rabbi, you are the dean of the Yeshivah – let the students leave and the Rabbi stay!" The Rabbi said: "I do not believe in religious coercion!"