When the Rosh Yeshiva Comes for Shabbos

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Every so often my community has the opportunity to welcome a Rosh Yeshiva for Shabbos. It is a great honor for any shul to welcome talmidei chachamim of significant stature. The challenge becomes, though, sometimes what they have to offer is over you congregations’ heads. Also, I have noticed that when delivering a sermon (as opposed to a shiur) such a style isn’t within their wheelhouse and can have the potential to turn your guests away from coming back to the marquee shiur in the afternoon.

How do you juggle this scenario? Do this right. Don’t be afraid to shake up the format. Perhaps a Question and Answer session would go over really well. What I have done on occasion is conduct an interview of the Rosh Yeshiva. As the Rabbi, I have good knowledge of some of their strong areas. Use those.

Another interesting possibility is to capitalize on a guest’s breadth of knowledge. I did a session where the congregants can throw at the Rosh Yeshiva random nouns and the Rosh Yeshiva just uses that noun as a springboard for a Torah conversation.

Be creative, be bold. If you have the zechus of having a great tsaddik in your midst – make the most of the opportunity.