In Memory of Rabbi Glickman Zt”l: A Mentor and Role Model
In a speech commemorating the twentieth anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, Rabbi Ozer Glickman Zt”l said of the former Prime Minister of Israel, “it is the fate of all men and women with outsized achievements to be seen as symbols.” Individuals and communities naturally strive to learn principles of guidance from the select few whose accomplishments in achieving ideals transcend the norm. Rabbi Glickman’s own outsized achievements as a rosh yeshiva, first-rate scholar, professor, and veteran of Wall Street led many in the YU community to view him as a symbol of Torah U’Madda in our time.
Rabbi Glickman was a philosopher and a poet, a talmudist and a quant. A thinker, a teacher, and a consultant. He mastered the boardroom, the classroom, and the beit midrash. He was all things to all people and yet he was unabashedly himself. He was who he was, wherever he was. He did not vacillate between two realms but rather infused his entire personality into all of his interactions.
I first met Rabbi Glickman while collaborating on a story for this newspaper about YU’s new Business Ethics curriculum. Our conversation rapidly developed into a discussion about our role as Jews in the world, which led to a back-and-forth about his upbringing, early education, and career as a trader on Wall Street. Somehow, it evolved into a discourse of Rav Shimon Shkop’s understanding of the laws pertaining to rov (majority). I was fascinated by both his erudition in Torah and his vast knowledge of the world of finance. Each of these would have been impressive on its own. I wrote him a thank you note, in it saying: “I found our discussion incredibly stimulating and was left with an indescribable feeling of satisfaction.”
Rabbi Glickman’s exemplary academic and professional accomplishments were only overshadowed by his care for others. He would spend his precious hours meeting with students to provide mentorship and guidance. He even sent out job and internship opportunities to his students. I frequently sought his advice concerning my career and life in general. I remember setting up a meeting with him once just to pick his brain. We talked that day extensively about topics ranging from statistics, to Jewish history, to philosophy and derech halimud (approach to learning Torah). I naively asked him what it would take for me to be like him. I remember taking copious notes on his answer. Sleep little. Focus. Love of Torah. Strength of Identity and of Character. Own your decisions.
I would occasionally sit with him in Nagel Bagel as students, rabbis, and professors would stop by for conversation with him. I marveled at the fact that he attracted students with diverse backgrounds and interests and connected students who may not have interacted with each other if not for him. He used to say that part of his personal mission was to open up the world of Torah and Talmud for those who were high achievers in secular studies but would have otherwise missed out on the breadth and depth that Torah has to offer. He also felt a responsibility to teach students about the importance of interacting with the world around them.
Rabbi Glickman was fond of a particular mishna from Pirkei Avot: Raban Gamliel the son of Rabbi Yehuda says: “Yafeh Talmud Torah Im Derech Eretz”; Excellent is the study of Torah with a worldly occupation. Rabbi Glickman exemplified not only this portion of the mishna, but a later portion as well: “Vekhol HaAmeilim Im HaTzibur, Yihyu Ameilim Imahem LeShem Shamayim”; And all those who work on behalf of the community, should do so for the sake of heaven. During my senior summer internship, I met with the Rabbi at a Starbucks on 57th street. He advised me on how to make the most out of my internship and gave me tips on how to interact as a Jew in the workplace. Rabbi Glickman provided the guidance and resources to help me position myself for success. We also spoke about the challenge of growing in spirituality and limud Torah while excelling professionally. Rabbi Glickman challenged me to continue studying rigorously post-graduation so that I can ultimately conduct business as a ben-Torah.
I learned so much from him despite the fact that I was never formally his student - and that’s exactly how he liked it. Another of his favorites from Pirkei Avot: “Ehov et HaMelacha U’Sna et HaRabanut”; Love the work and hate the lordship. As Rabbi Daniel Feldman wrote, he loved to mentor and teach but eschewed the formality of authority that came with his position.
I am humbled to have had the chance to learn from him and, as a community, we are lucky to have had him teach in our halls. I am still in shock about the suddenness of his passing and it is difficult for me to imagine the reality of the world without him. I hope that we can collectively work to fill the giant void that was created in his loss. Rabbi Glickman has passed, but his values, passions, and ideals live on. Such is the fate of men and women with outsized achievements.
Raymond J. Cohen is an Assistant Vice President of Corporate Lending at Israel Discount Bank of New York. He is an alumnus of Yeshiva University (SSSB ‘16) and a former Business Editor for The Commentator.