Tribute Article by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger: “A lot has been – and will be – written about Reb Yoel Kahan as a chozer, as a writer, as a master teacher. I want to share a side of his uniqueness that is less known.”
By Rabbi Eliyahu Touger
A lot has been – and will be – written about Reb Yoel Kahan as a chozer, as a writer, as a master teacher. I do not want to address those subjects. His own words and works speak more eloquently than I could ever possibly do.
I want to share a side of his uniqueness that is less known. I can’t say no one knows about it, because there are hundreds who benefitted from it, but still in comparison to his other achievements, it has slipped under the radar.
At a certain point in my life, I sought him out and I was surprised at how accessible he was, how much patience he showed, how much care and attention he offered. I was American, from a culture he did not know. I had trouble speaking or understanding Yiddish, but he taught and guided generously, sharing his time, his knowledge, and his counsel.
I was not the only one. There were other English-speakers – and Lubavitch youth who had not found their place and peace within Chassidus, many Israelis, some Russians, Torah scholars of a Lithuanian bent, members of other Chassidic movements, individuals from all the different types who were attracted to Lubavitch who sought him out. And if you persisted – and he saw you were sincere and wanted to learn – he would respond in kind.
There are hundreds who like me owe him – and his wife Leah תבלחט”א, who stood by his side and assisted in all the above – an immeasurable debt of gratitude. Were it not for him, where would we be today?
How can we repay him? By emulating his example – teaching and giving of ourselves unstintingly, sharing Chassidus with others, leading to the age when “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the ocean bed.”