Against the backdrop of Rabbi Shteinman's hospitalization, MK Yisrael Eichler (United Torah Judaism) delivered a moving speech at the Knesset plenum Wednesday, lauding the senior haredi rabbi and touting the haredi community's reverence for elders.
"The entire nation of Israel follows with concern the situation of Our Master the yeshiva dean, Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman, son of Gittel, may he see a complete recovery. He is an ancient tree of life that has studied Torah for more than 100 consecutive years.
"Sixty years ago he taught Torah in Petah Tikvah and only had enough pennies to return home once a week. On the other hand, even [at this meager salary] the director of the school was not always able to pay [Rabbi Shteinman], such that he fell five months behind on salary payments. When the manager discovered how poor Rabbi Shteinman's family was, he went out and collected as much as he could in order to pay the tabbi what he was owed, but Rabbi Shteinman objected to taking the money and said: "I must not take money for Torah study. The reason that a teacher is allowed to take money is only because of compensation for his time. But for what I've already lived in the past, I do not have permission to take.”
"The is the great Jew to whom the Jewish people turns and prays for his recovery. As is said of the Land of Israel, ‘Is there a tree in it or is there not,’ and the sages interpreted this to mean: ‘Is there a righteous man who will protect them with his merits.’”
Eichkler also spoke about the respect that the Jewish people have for the elderly. "In the modern world they say that ‘the world belongs to the young.’ The old people sit alone in the house and wait to die. It is different for the Jewish people, which has known throughout the generations that ‘in the elderly there wisdom, in length of days understanding.’ The Jewish People turns its eyes to its elderly, to the Torah scholars whose flesh has been burnt in the letters of the holy Torah for generations.”
"Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman is one of the few pillars on which the world rests. In recent years the pillars of the world are loosening because people of faith are being lost. It is not every day one meets a Jew who has been studying Torah for a hundred years. His holiness and Torah serve as a barrier between us and our enemies outside. We are all full of prayer that G-d will send him a complete recovery, for him and for all of Israel,” he said.