Stories & Memories of Rabbi Zalman Baras

By: Nissi March 14

My Experience with Rabbi Baras

It’s 13 years since we had the zechus to sit in Rabbi Baras’ shiur in shiur alef Oholei Torah Mesivta. It’s hard to believe that he is no longer with us. I am sure all of you are also thinking back to the time we spent with Rabbi Baras, so I figured I’ll share a short nekudah…

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Rabbi Baras is no doubt his absolute devotion and love to his talmidim. How can you forget his shiurim in Tanya and Kunters Umayan which he must have spent hours preparing, every shiur was also written down in handwritten notes, I can still see his small but clear handwriting explaining the two aspects of יתרון האור מן החושך…

The Friday night meals that he hosted in his home. Six or seven bachurim a week. Beforehand he would call over each bachur separately asking if there is any specific dish we liked so that his wife can make sure to have it by the meal to make us feel comfortable. At the time I had no idea the amount of work that goes into preparing a shabbos meal, especially for a young couple.

There is so much to say about such a Pnimiyusdike chassidisher yid like Rabbi Baras (and I encourage everyone to share), but there is one nekudah that, looking back, makes the biggest impression on me, especially as someone who is working in a yeshiva with bachurim myself.

And that is, considering how young and immature we were (no need to elaborate how much “chayos” we had at that age), and yet he was able to overlook our obvious immaturities and take his job seriously, staying focused on who we will become without getting deterred by who we were at the time.

An ordinary person might have said, they are still young kids, they need time to grow up before anyone can make a real change in them. Rabbi Baras was extra special. He had such deep ahavas yisroel and patience for us.

The Rebbe Rashab says that when teaching bachurim you have to imagine that each bachur is a zaide with many aineklach and make sure he has the tools he needs to be a true chossid. That is a real hard feat that only a true chossid with genuine ahavas yisroel can do. Rabbi Baras excelled in that.

He recognized that we were very interested to learn and grow as chassidim even though we might not have showed it on the outside. He believed in us perhaps more than we believed in ourselves. For that I am forever grateful.

It hit me when I saw him at yaakov’s wedding. Here is a person who is clearly going through misery. So weak he can barely stand through the whole chuppa. Yet he made the trip, participated in the entire wedding, gave us all the time of day. Asking what we are up to with true interest. להפליא!

The Gemorah says אין האשה כורתת ברית אלא למי שעשעה כלי. A person never forgets his first mashpia. I will try never to forget Rabbi Baras and the lessons he taught me.

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