I still feel very much numb on the news of Rabbi Baras passing.
I wasn’t any special Talmid in Yeshiva. but Cincinnati Yeshiva, and especially Rabbi Baras were the ones who molded me into the person I am today. I’m sure you are aware of that quite well.
I will never forget the day I rolled into Cincinnati, literally a 14 year old boy, and the only person I know was you. I remember walking into the Dorm on summit road and feeling like I just landed on Mars. Was this yeshiva actually what people said, that it had great Gashmius and Ruchnius...??? as I came downstairs I saw you walking in the hallway, releaved I recognize a familiar face, I was happy to see you. But standing behind you was Rabbi Baras, I remember he was tall and a little bent over so it literally looked like he had his head over yours, and he had a huge smile on his face, that to me looked like that fake smile that the stewardess have on the plane. But it was different. I am usually not bad at telling if someone is faking being nice, but here was a person I couldn’t figure out. It took me a long time, to finally realize that Rabbi Baras was different and special. Because he wasn’t faking it. He actually was doing it b’emes, and that’s why I was so confused seeing his facial expression the first time.
Our class was the 2nd year of Cincinnati 5768, we were a though group, and we gave Rabbi Baras a very hard time, probably because we (not including me, because I was the only new boy) felt like we were there before him, and he was the newcomer. Boys used to abuse him, come to class in pajamas and pillows literally... but he never felt threatened, he had his smile and kept pushing.
I remember he cought some virus and had a hard time talking loud for a few weeks. And we felt so bad for him because every morning we saw him ripping out his Kishkes just to teach us Tanya.
In Shiur Gimmel a few of us had this Chassidishe Mishegas to go every Shabbos day to farbrieng with him or you at your houses and Koch in different Chassidishe Inyonim. These are memories I wouldn’t forget ever in my life.
I remember struggling in Zal after I left Cincinnati, because no place in the world can compare to it.
Unfortunately i didn’t keep so much in touch with Rabbi Baras besides the occasional meet in 770, because I felt like he was way too emes and I couldn’t bother him with all my Mishgasim and krizot.
Just last year we came to NY before Shavuos and I remember bumping into him outside 770, I think he was in between treatment then. And he came over asking me how I was doing, and how the Shlichus was going. seeing a person that was suffering Begashmius, but never the less showed empathy that he cared what I was doing vechulu, Is something i took and still take as a inspiration and a life long lesson.