Revach L'Neshama RSS feed for - Section: STORIES Category:GADLUS Copyright 2007, Revach L'Neshama en-US Revach L'Neshama Logo 144 31 Mon, 06 Dec 2021 03:00:00 +0000 240 Rav Yaakov Edelstein - The Two Words He Wanted to Be Able to Speak

The Gaon and Tzaddik Rav Yaakov Edelstein was one of the most uniques Gedolim of our generation. He was one of the great luminaries of the generation yet he was the Rav of a modern secular Israeli city, Ramat HaSharon. He was one of the great Mekubalim of the Dor, having learned the secrets of Kabbalah from the sacred "shoemaker" of Bnei Brak, yet he was an approachable Litvishe Dayan and Posek.

The last two years of his life were difficult ones where a series of illnesses left him without the capability to speak, and he communicated by writing. At one point he recovered enough that his caregivers felt they can teach him how to speak again.

The therapist asked him to write down the two words that he wanted to start with. Rav Yaakov wrote "Amen" and "Todah". Two words that say it all, Bein Adam LaMakom and Bein Adam Lachaveiro.

The famous Ramban at the end of Parshas Bo says that the underlying reason for every mitzva, and the reason for the entire creation, is for man to acknowledge Hashem as his creator. Amen is a short two syllable word that simply and succinctly accomplishes this mission. With your little Amen you justify your existence and the existence of the entire universe.

The same goes with the word Todah. People crave recognition. By thanking someone you give him recognition that he is worth something and that you need him. Nothing can satisfy him more. You acknowledge his importance in your world and the world at large. It is the essence of Bein Adam LaChaveiro.

It takes a gaon and a tzaddik to come up with something so simple and so brilliant, even as he struggles on his sickbed. Yehi Zichro Baruch!

Mon, 03 Apr 2017 03:00:00 +0000
Reb Elchonon Wasserman Insists on Door to Door Service

While in New York fundraising, Reb Elchonon Wasserman's host offered to give him a ride to his meeting in Mid-Manhattan. Although Reb Elchonon was not one to take favors at the expense of others, he agreed, since the host also needed to go the vicinity of Reb Elchonon's destination.

As they got close to the building where Reb Elchonon's meeting was to take place, the host pointed out the building, and suggested that Reb Elchonon get off at the corner since the building was very close and the traffic situation made it not really worthwhile to go around the block.

Reb Elchonon politely told the driver that he should take him around the block to the front door. The driver was quite taken aback at this shocking out of character demand of the noble and gracious figure that he knew Reb Elchonon to be. Reb Elchonon explained to him the Chazal tell us, "המתחיל במצוה אומרים לו גמור", when someone starts a mitzva we tell him to finish. Chazal, explained Reb Elchonon, were not only talking to the person who started the mitzva but also to the people around him as well. Chazal said that there is an obligation to "tell him to complete it". Despite running contrary to Reb Elchonon's personal nature, Reb Elchonon forced himself to fulfill his own personal obligation by telling the driver to finish his mitzva!

Important Note: Stories are not checked for factual accuracy and are told as heard and remembered through the generations. It is the lesson that can be learned from the stories that we strive to pass on.

Wed, 29 Apr 2015 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach Checks Out The Candy

One day in the car after delivering his shiur in Yeshivas Kol Torah, Rav Shlomo Zalman asked the driver to pull over in front of a kiosk where he went out to buy a candy bar to cheer up a child whom he was on his way to visit in the hospital.

After buying the candy, on the way back to the car, Rav Shlomo Zalman started to examine the candy bar and turn it over from side to side. The person accompanying Rav Shlomo Zalman assured him that he has no need to worry since he knew that this candy bar had a very good Hechsher. "I wasn't looking at the Hechsher", said Rav Shlomo Zalman. "I was checking if the candy was good!" (Aleihu Lo Yibol YD 143)

Wed, 14 Mar 2012 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Leibele Kovner Proves Conclusively to the Maskil that There is a Hashem

The great Gaon Rav Leibele Kovner was the great grandfather of the Brisker Rov. On the day he was hired for the prestigious position as Rov of Kovna, one of the Maskilim of Kovna decided to test him. He asked him if he can prove that Hashem runs the world.

"Sure" said Rav Leibele, "Please bring me a Rambam from the shelf." The Maskil brought the Rambam and Rav Leibele opened up to Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah. He read the words of the Rambam to the Maskil, "The foundation of foundations and the pillar of wisdom is to know that there is a Hashem the preceded all and created all". Rav Leibele said, "there is your indisputable proof, right here in the words of the Rambam."

"Not only that" said Rav Leibele, "but even the Raavad, who constantly argues on every disputable point in the Rambam, remains silent in agreement. Even all the commentaries who always ask questions on the Rambam like the Magid Mishneh, Kesef Mishneh, Lechem Mishneh, and Mishneh LaMelech don't utter a single doubt on the words of the Rambam in this instance. Is there no greater proof than this that there is a Hashem who runs the world?"

Tue, 24 Jan 2012 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Chatzkel Levenstein Says Good Night!

One night after Maariv in Ponevezh Yeshiva in Bnei Brak a talmid of the Mashgiach Rav Chatzkel Leventstein walked his Rebbe back home. When they reached the apartment Rav Chatzkel bid his talmid a good night and went inside, while his talmid turned and started heading back to Yeshiva.

After walking a bit, to his surprise, the Talmid heard someone calling him. He turned around and was surprised to see it was Rav Chatzkel. He wondered what the Mashgiach suddenly wanted from him.

When he went back to Rav Chatzkel, Rav Chatzkel criticized himself. He said I preach in Yeshiva that the mitzvos should not be performed by route, Mitzvos Anashim Milumada, but rather with thought and care. Yet when you left me I wished you a "good night" without really thinking what I was saying. So now I came back to wish you an earnest and heartfelt Good Night! (U'Lisitcha Elyon Chayei Sara)

Tue, 15 Nov 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Reb Elchonon Wasserman Reads The Newspaper On His Shtender After the passing of his Rebbe the Chofetz Chaim, Reb Elchonon inherited the mantle of being Daas Torah for his generation.  He would defend Torah against attack from the outside and mercilessly fought those seeking to destroy it from within. 

To this effort Reb Elchonon felt the need to keep up with the goings on in the world and would read the newspaper daily.  It was placed on his shtender and each morning he would spend three minutes going through it and digesting it with his incisive mind.

When asked why he would read the newspaper on his shtender out of all places, he said, if I must read the paper then it is because it is a mitzva and I can read in right here on my shtender.  if there is an issue with reading the paper then I cannot even do it behind closed doors.

Mon, 29 Aug 2011 03:00:00 +0000
A Midnight Round Trip By Reb Yeruchom's Mother

When the famous Mirrer Mashgiach, Rav Yeruchom Levovitz was young, he learned in Kelm. At some point his mother did not receive any mail or news of his well being for a few months and she began to worry. Not being a woman of means she slowly saved money for a trip to Kelm to check on her son, by skimping on her meals and borrowing money.

WHen finally she put together the necessary funds she ordered a wagon. The trip was difficult through the snow and mud. She arrived in Kelm in middle of the night and not a light was on in any home in the town, save for a light in the Bais Medrash. Without any choice she entered the Bais Medrash and climbed up the stairs to the Ezras Nashim where she sat down.

While in the Ezras Nashim she heard the sweet voice of one of the boys sitting over his gemara in the wee hours of the night. She looked down and to her delight she saw it was her son Yeruchom.

At that point she immediately went downstairs and out of the Bais Medrash without disturbing her son. She got back into her wagon and asked him to take her back home, as she now knew that all was well, and needed nothing more.

Tue, 02 Aug 2011 03:00:00 +0000
The Ascent of Three Malachim

Klal Yisroel lost three senior Malachim over the past two weeks. They ascended to Shamayim with over 300 years of Torah and Avodah between them. No one could claim to be untouched as these three gedolim were the senior Roshei Yeshiva from the three main Torah centers of the world, Rav Yitzchok Dov Koppelman from Europe, Rav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz of Eretz Yisroel and, Rav Chaim Stein from America.

What made them Malachim? At the levaya of Rav Chaim Stein one of the maspidim explained as follows. The gemara in Moed Katan brings the pasuk in Malachi (2:7), "Ki Sifsei Koten Yismiru Daas V'Sorah Yivakshu MiPihu Ki Mlach Hashem Tzivakos". The gemara learns that if your Rebbi is like a Malach Hashem then you may learn Torah from him, but if he is anything short of a Malach you should not learn Torah from him. What does this mean?

Chazal classify a Malach as an Omeid, and a person as a Holeich. A Malach is created Kadosh V'Tahor and that is how he remains during his entire existence. A Malach is not a Baal Bechira and cannot make choices that tarnish him with Chait. A person is a Holeich, he is constantly on the move. He is created instinctiveley selfish from birth, and possesses every possible bad middah. His job is to constantly ascend beyond his humanity and use his neshama to overcome his Guf. If he reaches his goal he far greater than a Malach. His mission is to strive higher and higher never being complacent or happy where he is.

So where lies the greatness in a Rebbi being Domeh L'Malach? The maspid explained that a good Rebbi is totally focused on the growth of his Talmid and willing to sacrifice his own growth in the process. A Rebbi who teaches for personal ambitions, to get a better job, to earn a good reputation, he is a Rebbi you should not learn from. Rav Chaim Stein was a Malach, said the Maspid. Rav Chaim had many ambitions in life, among them publishing his Seforim, but he also had priorities which were to develop his Talmidim. His own ambitions always took a back seat as he remained firmly in his place as a Mechanech above all. His growth came through his talmidim.

Surely the same can be said about Rav Koppelman who was content to spend many decades hidden away in a small corner in Europe, doing nothing other than being Mechanech the Talmidim that chose to make the trek to this small town barely an outpost on the map of Jewish communal centers. How often in the outside world does person remain in his relatively modest position without seeking advancement for a half a century or more? This was Rav Koppelman the Malach who was happy to be Omeid Al Mishmarto.

How amazing that the two Gedolim of Eretz Yisroel and the world, Rav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz and Yibadel bein Chaim L'Chaim Rav Aharon Leib Shteiman shlit"a were not even Roshei Yeshiva of a Yeshiva Gedola. Both stood in partnership at the helm of a Yeshiva for the younger boys for decades and decades. Neither sought to lead a major Yeshiva Gedola that would have advanced them up the corporate ladder faster and earlier, although surely they were offered many positions.

Our great gedolim are true Malachim. They are happy teaching Torah to anyone who wants to hear, no matter who and no matter where. They do not strive for the limelight not in Ruchniyus and surely not in Gashmiyus. The only thing they yearn to do is to constantly sing Boruch Kvod Hashem, praised is the honor of Hashem. Mimkomo, from their place where ever Hashem has put them. From there they can reach higher than the highest peaks.


Mon, 04 Jul 2011 03:00:00 +0000
The Imrei Emes - Kibud Av Wins Over The Mah Nishatana

In days gone by the Mah Nistana was a much more innocent affair. Kids were not taught the Mah Nishtana in school, but rather it was up to the kid to notice strange things going on at the Seder and asking on his own volition.

On Seder night when the Imrei Emes was a little boy, his father the Sfas Emes of Gur started his Seder and waited expectantly for his yound son to start inquiring about odd happenings. The Imrei Emes sat quietly without the slightest hint of a puzzled look on his face. The Sfas Emes started to do more strange things in order to get the boy to ask, but to no avail. He even started to move things on and off the table, turn the talbe over, and other wild antics just to break the boy's calm demeanor, bu nothing would make the Imrei Emes flinch.

Finally the Sfas Emes asked his son if he noticed anything different about that night's meal. The Imrei Emes said that of course he did. Then why, asked the Sfas Emes, di you not seem alarmed and ask any questions?

The little boy answered with pure innocence, because I know my father is a smart man and whatever he does he has a very good reason for doing. That is why I am not the slightest bit disturbed.

Sun, 17 Apr 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Shloimke Of Zvhil's Bottomless Cup

When the great Rebbe Rav Shloimke of Zvhil moved to Eretz Yisroel he chose to remain anonymous he lived a simple life and no one gave him any respect. Rav Shloimke would daven at the Kosel every day.

One Chol HaMoed morning there was a big crowd at the Kosel and a resident of the Old City was generous enough to bring lots of water and give out drinks to the Mispallelim. When he poured water for Rav Shloimke suddenly the bottom of the cup broke off and the water spilled on the floor. The cup was replaced but it happened again.

After this strange occurrence repeated itself a few times, Rav Shloimke asked the man if he filtered the water from worms. This man was new from Chutz LaAretz and it turned out was unaware of the bugs that seep into the water of the wells around Yerushalayim. Word spread quickly about the miracle of the bottom falling cups and Rav Shloimke was ultimately revealed as the renowned Holy Rebbe of Zvhil, who could no longer quietly hide far from his homeland and many Chassidim.  (Yagdil Torah - Parshas Shmini)

Thu, 24 Mar 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach Reads His Mother The Megila Out Of Respect

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach held L'Halacha that hearing by Krias Megilas Esther through a hearing aid one could not be Yotzei. Rav Shlomo Zalman's mother Tzivya was hard of hearing and wore a hearing aid (see story). When Rav Shlomo Zalman became Bar Mitzva he learned how to read the Megila so that he can read it for his hearing impaired mother.

On Purim his mother would remove her hearing aid and Rav Shlomo Zalman would read the megila with all his might close to her ear so that she could be Yotzei. He continued this for many decades.

After many years of practicing this minhag one of Rav Shlomo Zalman's children mentioned to him that he doesn't think his mother can really hear all the words despite his best efforts. Rav Shlomo Zalman answered him, know my son that I never imagined that she hears the Megila K'Halacha. All that I do for my mother is only to make her feel good and to honor her. (Halichos Shlomo Orchos Halacha 2:29:1)

Wed, 09 Mar 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman's Spontaneous Visit To A Long Forgotten Talmid

When you hear stories like this you get a taste of what makes our Gedolim stand apart. I heard this story first hand from someone who davens with me each morning in Shul. A few weeks ago he was sitting Shiva for his sister together with his brother-in-law in Yerushalayim. One afternoon a person walked in but seemed confused. It turned out that he was in the wrong house and needed to be at the home of someone with the same name a few streets over.

One of the family members explained to him that this was a Shiva house and now that he already walked in, he can be Minachem Avel. As it happened this person was one of the Gabbaim of Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman. The husband of the Nifteres had been a talmid of Rav Aharon Leib over fifty years ago. They traded stories of Rav Aharon Leib's greatness then and now and the gabbai was Minachem them and went on his way.

Later that day when the Gabbai arrived at Rav Aharon Leib's house back in Bnei Brak he mentioned that he he met a talmid from Rav Aharon Leib's youth through a crazy mix up. Although Rav Aharon was not familiar with the long forgotten name as soon as he heard this from the Gabbai he said that if his talmid is sitting Shiva he must go be menachem him. He asked the gabbai to get his things and please take him immediately to Yerushalayim, where he sat with the Avel for twenty five minutes before going back home.

Rav Aharon Leib is close to one hundred years old and has a schedule busier than almost anyone on the planet. His trips to Yerushalayim and not very frequent and are planned in advance. Yet when he heard a a talmid lost his wife there was nothing to discuss, only to drag his feeble body to comfort him.

Tue, 01 Mar 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Chaim Soloveitchik's Demands

In the home of Rav Chaim Soloveitchik everything was Hefker. Anyone off the street could come in and take whatever they wanted and no one in the family was allowed to utter a single word. Families would sometimes come in and take a room for themselves and no one would say anything.

His son, the Brisker Rov said that he once came to his own bed at night and found someone lying in it. He had no place to sleep that night but didn't say anything to anyone about it.

Rav Dovid Soloveitchik Shlit"a said that one time his father, the Brisker Rov was writing a Dvar Torah that his Father Reb Chaim told him to write for him. As he was in middle of writing, a shlepper barged in from the street and asked the Brisker Rov for the pen. The Brisker Rov told him he would give it to him in a minute when he is finished writing. When Reb Chaim heard this he screamed, "what is going on here that we don't lend our pens..." (Holchei Nesivos - Middos Tovos)

Wed, 26 Jan 2011 03:00:00 +0000
The Avnei Nezer Takes Worrying To A New Level The Avnei Nezer, Rav Avrohom Borenstein, was married to the daughter of the Kotzker Rebbe.  They lived in dire poverty, yet he never seemed to be concerned with his plight.  One day his frustrated wife asked him, "tell me why is it that our poverty does not concern you at all?"

The Avnei Nezer answered, "I worry as much as everyone else but there is a big difference.  Your great father took me as a son-in-law because of my brilliant mind.  What takes others an entire day to think about, I can think through in a few moments.  So while other poor people spend their entire day worrying and consumed with their predicament, I spend a few moment every morning thinking everything they can possibly think of the entire day.  Then I can get on with the other things on my daily agenda."

Tue, 11 Jan 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Yehoshua Leib Diskin - Gaonus In His Youth & Tziddkus In His Old Age

There was a big raffle for a Menorah in Horodna. After the winning raffle was drawn by the Shamash Rav Eliyahu Meir Zoldan, and the menorah awarded to the winner, some children started playing with the raffles that were not drawn. One of the kids discovered that one of the names in the raffle was mistakenly written twice although neither were chosen. Rav Yehoshua Leib Diskin who was then a child, declared that the raffle was void and should be done again. A big argument ensued among the children who disagreed with him.

When the adults came to Shul and heard the commotion they all had their own opinion on the matter. When Rav Yehoshua Leib's father Rav Binyomin Diskin the Rav walked in he heard everybody saying the raffle should still be valid while Rav Yehoshua Leib insisted that it is void. His father asked him why he thought so if that man was not the winner anyway.

Rav Yehoshua Leib said that had the man with the duplicate ticket won, surely it would have been voided when the mistake was revealed. Therefore that man had no chance to win. If so it was as if his raffle ticket was not in the drawing, and since a ticket was missing the raffle was void. This answer from the young boy amazed his father and Rav Yehoshua Leib's genius spread quickly throughout the town.

Years later when Rav Yehoshua Leib was already the Rov of Yerushalayim, Rav Eliyahu Meir Zoldan the Shamash, who was by then over a hundred years old, also lived there. Rav Yehoshua Leib sent someone to call him over. Rav Yehoshua Leib reminded him of the story from many long years ago. He said that surely he caused him grief by causing him to have to go to the winner to take back the menorah in order to hold another raffle. And therefore now he wants to ask him Mechila. (Gedolei HaDoros)

Wed, 05 Jan 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Yisroel Salanter's Thoughts As Death Loomed Near

Even in his last moments on earth, Rav Yisroel Salanter spent his time thinking about the feelings of others. In his final illness as he lie in bed in Koenigsberg, he had a man attending his needs. On the last day of his life Rav Yisroel turned to this simple man and started talking to him about the fear people have to be alone with a dead body. Rav Yisroel told him that it is a really foolish fear since a dead person cannot do anything.

A few hours later Rav Yisroel was niftar and lo and behold there wasn't anyone else around at the time, and the attendant was alone. It became clear to the attendant that the strange conversation he had had with the Tzaddik a few hours ago was meant to dispel his fears that would engulf him later that day.

Surely Rav Yisroel who knew his time was near was deep in thought about life and death, tshuvah and torah. Yet he had the presence of mind in his weakened condition to concern himself with the possible fear of another person. (HaMi'oros HaGedolim)

Wed, 22 Dec 2010 03:00:00 +0000
The Bostoner Rebbe, The Baal Tshuva, And The Juicy Steak The Bostoner Rebbe was famous for helping Baalei Tshuva stay grounded even as they soared to spiritual heights. It is told that once a Baal Tshuva told the Rebbe that he doesn't eat steak unless he has bread so he can wash. He explained that a good juicy steak deserves more than a mere Shehakol before and Borei Nefashos afterward. He wanted to make sure that after eating steak he can amply thank Hashem with a full Birchas HaMazon.

Expecting the Bostoner Rebbe to be pleased with his logic and tzidkus, he was taken aback by the Rebbes negative response to this practice. The Rebbe explained that when instituting brachos Chazal knew good and well the meaning of a nice piece of meat. Despite this they instituted the bracha of Shehakol and the a Borei Nefashos. One must trust Chazal and not veer from their words based on their own personal feelings and findings.

Thu, 25 Nov 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Hirsch Broide's Perfect Manicure

Rav Chatzkel Levenstein said that he heard from the Mirrer Mashgiach Reb Yeruchom Levovitz once saw how Rav Hirsch Broide the son in law of the Alter of Kelm would take a great deal of care in manicuring his nails perfectly with beautiful round edges every Erev Shabbos. Reb Yeruchom asked him the meaning of this seemingly uncharacteristic behavior for a man who didn't even really belong to this world.

Rav Hirsch explained that when he uses someone else's sefer he wants to ensure that if he inadvertently scratches it with his nail he will not leave a mark. This was the great degree of care that this tzaddik was sensitive to the ever so slight damage that can be caused to others.

Tue, 26 Oct 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Simcha Bunim Of Peshischa Reveals The Future
One Purim after the Seudah, Rav Tzaddok HaKohen told the following story with his face aflame from the Kedusha of the day.  He related that one day he was walking with his Rebbe Rav Mordechai Yosef of Izhbetza and suddenly he stopped and told him the following story.

One Shabbos I was in Peshischa.  Right before Havdala as Rav Simcha Bunim picked up the Kos, he said as follows.  I am peering into the future of Klal Yisroel in the days preceding the coming of Moshiach.  It will be a time when Yehudim will accustom themselves to extravagant luxuries and unnecessary expenses.  Their normal income will not suffice them.  They will be forced to find side jobs and additional sources of income.  They will run day and night to earn what they need to support this lifestyle.  They will invest their entire lives in a sea of toil and sweat.   My hair stands on edge and my nails cut into my flesh as I imagine to myself what will be the fate of the Yehudim at that time.  (Zichronam L'Vracha from "HaKohen")
One part has already come true, now we await the other Bimheira Biyameinu Amein!  

Sun, 22 Aug 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Shraga Feivel Mendelovitz, The Delicate Art Of Fundraising When Rav Shraga Feivel Mendelovitz embarked on a fundraising mission to finance his Yeshiva, his first stop was in Scranton to a wealthy former talmid who had left practicing Judaism behind.  Rav Shraga Feivel hoped that he would lavish some of his incredible wealth on the Yeshiva where he spent his childhood.

The wealthy Talmid greeted his old rebbi graciously.  He was expecting a warm bracha despite his wayward path, since after all Rav Shraga Feivel came to get money from him.  To his shock, Rav Shraga Feivel took one look at him and said, "Woe is unto me.  I am destined to burn in Gehinom for raising a Talmid that turned out like you!"

The wealthy former talmid was taken aback and deeply moved by his rebbi's purity and integrity.  Even for money he would not show false favor.  The Talmid then gave a generous donation to the Yeshiva.  (Shlucha D'Rachmana)

Fri, 13 Aug 2010 03:00:00 +0000
The Netziv Sees The Doctor, But Takes His Own Medicine
Rav Naftoli Tzvi Yehuda Berlin (Netziv) was the son-in-law of Rav Itzele Volozhin the son of Rav Chaim Volozhin.  He succeeded Rav Itzele as the Rosh Yeshiva of Volozhin. 

The Netziv never went to the doctor even when he was sick.  Once he went through a period of time where he was not feeling well.  Out of concern for his health, his family put a lot of pressure on him to allow the Doctor to come check him out.  Finally he acquiesced and the Doctor was invited.  

After a thorough checkup the doctor identified the problem and wrote out a prescription.  He handed it to the Netziv who thanked him.  As soon as the doctor left, the Netziv ripped up the prescription.  His family was flabbergasted.  If he already agreed to see the doctor why would he not just take the medicine?

The Netziv explained that instead of going to a doctor when something hurt him, he would think about which mitzvos are associated with that limb.  He would then examine which of those mitzvos he has been lax in and make an effort to repair his wrongdoing thereby strengthen that part of his body.  

However this time he could not identify exactly which part of his body caused him to feel weak.  Once the doctor identified it, he no longer needed he doctors medicine.  He would now cure it the way he always cured his own ailment, through tshuva.  

Sun, 08 Aug 2010 03:00:00 +0000
The Satmar Rov Holds 1,000 For Happiness
The Satmar Rov Rav Yoel Teitelbaum was famous for giving out huge sums of money to people who came to ask him for help.  One day a man came from Eretz Yisroel and asked him for money to marry off his daughter.  The Satmar Rov asked him how much he needed.  The man quickly calculated the cost of an apartment, the wedding, and all the other expenses and said that he needed 30,000.

The Satmar Rov then left the room and came back with a stack of bills.  The man counted it and saw that it was 29,000.  His happiness knew no bounds.  He went out literally dancing in the streets.

One of the people with the Satmar Rov asked him why he left him 1,000 short and he didn't already finish off the entire amount.  The Satmar Rov answered that had I given him the full amount he would have initially been ecstatic.  However a few minuted later he would have been upset at himself for not asking for more.  I wanted the man to be happy.  By giving him 29,000 the man was ecstatic that he got as much as he could have ever dreamed for.  

Fri, 06 Aug 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Ephraim Zalman Margulios - World Class Torah And Wealth
In the recent history of Klal Yisroel there has not been Torah and Wealth given to one individual like Rav Ephraim Zalman Magulios of Brodie.  His tzidkus and gadlus in Torah were not great for a man of his stature but even when compared to the Gedolei HaDor.  The Chasam Sofer said, "I will run to the Holy and G-dly man.  I should merit that I, he unclean one, will be saved in the Zechus of his Tefila."  When giving a hesped for Rav Ephraim Zalman, the Chasam Sofer said, "Ner Yisroel Amud HaYemini... Avi Avi Rechev Yisroel U'Parahav... his Torah is learned every day in our Bais Medrash."

Rav Ephraim Zalman learned Torah day and night and his business dealing were conducted by his partner Rav Shimon Dizeh.  His wife also took care of his business and would only ask his advice on important matters at designated times.

Rav Ephraim Zalman lent a great deal of money, with a Heter Iska, as part of his business dealings.  One day a Ben Torah who was a very poor young man asked for a large some of money for six months.  Rav Ephraim Zalman was skeptical of his ability to pay it back.  He gave him a form to fill out and one of the requirements was to have an Areiv, a guarantor sign.    The young man was desperate and had no one who would sign as a guarantor so he wrote on the line for the Areiv the pasuk, "Li HaKesef Li HaZahav Ni'um Hashem", to Me belongs the silver and gold says Hashem.  

Upon seeing the form Rav Ephraim Zalman's heart swayed him to pity the young man and give him the money although he had no hope of ever having it repaid.  A half year later on the day the loan was due Rav Ephraim Zalman was not feeling well and his wife took over his "Bank" for the day.  That evening she reported the days activity and she told him that a nobleman took a loan for a very large sum of money.  

Rav Ephraim Zalman was baffled where the money came from since he knew he did not have that amount of money that day.  His wife said that someone came to pay back a half year old loan.  Rav Ephraim Zalman was not aware of any loans that he expected to be paid back that day so he went to check the records.  Lo and behold he saw it was the day that the young man's loan was due.  He asked his wife if this Ben Torah was the person who brought the money.  She said that it was someone else who paid it for him.

Rav Ephraim Zalman then told his wife that he suspected that she was zocheh to see Eliyahu HaNavi who was probably the one who repaid it since the young man made Hashem his guarantor.  Rav Ephraim Zalman wondered why he missed the opportunity to see Eliyahu and got sick specifically on that day.  He decided it was because he pressured the young man and insisted on a guarantor. 

Wed, 04 Aug 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Chaim Soloveitchik's Brisker Door Rav Chaim Brisker was an incredible Ba'al Chesed.  His home was totally hefker to all those who wanted to enter.  People ate his food, took away his seforim, and even slept in his bed leaving him nowhere to sleep some nights.  His concern for other was so great that it didn't dawn on anyone that they were inconveniencing him, and they probably weren't.  His house was the local hangout for anyone who had no where to go.

Someone once asked why he had a door on his house if it performed no function whatsoever, since it was always open.  The answer was obvious.  According to one Dei'a, in order to put a Mezuza in a doorway it needs a to have a door on it.  The door is there just to make sure that the Mezuza is 100% L'Chatchila.  Why else would someone have a door?

Sun, 01 Aug 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Avrohom Grodzinsky Dances Right On Time The following story gives a glimpse of the greatness of Rav Avrohom Grodzinsky and gives new meaning to the obligation to feel for another Jew.  One time when Rav Avrohom was in Warsaw he went to visit some relatives.  All during the visit he kept asking what the time was.  At one point after they told him the time he got up and started dancing.  His hosts asked him what he was doing, but he was oblivious to his surroundings as he danced with great fervor.  After finishing dancing he sat back down again as if nothing happened.

When his relatives asked him what this odd behavior was all about he explained that one of the talmidim was getting married in Slabodka that night.  He really wanted the Mashgiach Rav Avrohom to be there.  "While unfortunately I was unable to be there for his simcha", said Rav Avrohom. "there is no reason that I could not share in his simcha."  (Gedolei HaDoros)

Rav Avrohom Grodzinsky Hy"d was the Mashgiach of the Slabodka Yeshiva.  He was the sole leader of the Yeshiva present at the outbreak of the Holocaust, as the Rosh Yeshiva Rav Isaac Sher was abroad at the time.  Years earlier the Yeshiva had split into two with the establishment  of Slabodka in Eretz Yisroel and while  Rav Avrohom was actually sent with the initial group, he was recalled to Slabodka to hold up the Yeshiva when the Alter himself traveled to Eretz Yisroel.

Rav Avrohom was the spiritual leader in the Kovno Ghetto, which was situated in the suburb of Slabodka.  He dispensed chizuk and emuna to the broken hearted remnants of the Yeshiva and the rest of the Kovno/Slabodka community during those bleak days.  Rav Shloime Volbe and Rav Chaim Kreiswirth were married to his daughters.  Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky was his brother-in-law.

Sun, 04 Jul 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Chazon Ish - Whose Guest Is He?
The Chazon Ish in his Sefer Emunah U'Bitachon tells a story of a Chosid who invited a guest to his home for Seudas Shabbos.  His whole family joyously prepared for the meal because they loved hosting guests.  

However the person making arrangements for the guest didn't realize that the Chosid had invited him, so he sent him to a different family for the Seudah. 

When the Chosid finished Davening on Friday night the guest was no where to be found.  The Chosid finally got to the bottom of the story and when he returned home without the guest the family was greatly disappointed.  The Chosid said to them, "Is our guest your personal property to do business with? I only worried that he should have a place to eat and enjoy Seudas Shabbos.  What is the difference if this is done in our house by someone else?"

Selflessness is considering another person's needs.  Selfishness is using other peoples' needs as a way to satisfy your personal desires, whatever they may be.

Thu, 01 Jul 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Mordechai Pogramsky Does Not Reinvent The Light Bulb
One day a Maskil walked into the Bais Medrash of YEshivas Telz in Lita.  He started ranting and raving about the progress and revolution going on in the outside world, while the Yeshiva Bochurim sit idling away their time discussing stone age matters in the Bais Medrash. 

One of the legendary brilliant talmidim of Telz got up and asked the Maskil, "Tell me, if I were to tell you about a genius who locked himself away in his attic for three years and last week finally emerged proudly and victoriously with a new invention that gives off light from electricity, what would you say?"

"Is this a new kind of bulb" asked the Maskil?  "Is it more efficient than the old ones?"  

"No" said Rav Mordechai.  "It is identical to what Thomas Edison himself invented."  

"I would say that he is brilliant but pathetic", said the Maskil.  "The poor guy spent three years inventing something that someone already invented years ago!"

"Exactly!" agreed Rav Mordechai.  "Therefore you will surely agree me that you are wasting you time.  Whatever your "Haskala" has invented, the Torah spoke about thousands of years before.  Now you can surely understand what we think about you, sad and pathetic."

"I am not a Rosh Yeshiva, nor am I from the Gedolei HaDor" said Rav Mordechai.  "But I challenge you to tell me any and all of the enlightening scientific inventions and I will tell you where the Torah alludes to them."

Suddenly the two were surrounded by a large circle of curious Talmidim, including the son of Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank who retold this eyewitness account.  For the next hour and a quarter the Maskil bombarded Rav Mordechai with the latest and greatest invention, to which Rav Mordechai calmly pointed them all out from the Torah.  The Maskil finally gave up and started to walk out in defeat.  "Where are you going?" called out Rav Mordechai.  "If you want to invent the light bulb, join us here in the Bais Medrash and learn some torah!"  (Maayan HaEmuna pg. 500)

Sun, 27 Jun 2010 03:00:00 +0000
The Alter Of Novhardok Teaches Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer To Get Dressed Up But Not To Dance
One of the main lessons of the Alter Of Novhardok was the problem of Nigius, self interest.  Nigius he said, insidiously crawls its way into every decision we make, contaminates the mind, and corrupts our minds and our ability to think honestly and clearly.

The Chaim SheYesh Bahem (Korach) says that Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer personally learned a lesson on the Nigia of laziness from the Alter Of Novhardok.  Rav Isser Zalman said that when a person needs to make a decision if a visitor to town is due respect and one must go greet him, the first thing he must eliminate to make a proper decision is Nigia of laziness which will skew the decision in favor of not going.

How can this be achieved, asked Rav Isser Zalman?  The Alter provided the perfect solution.  When a distinguished guest who may possibly deserve kavod arrived to town, the Alter would get dressed up in his finest clothing and go to the home where the guest is lodging.  When he reached the lodging, he would stand outside and only then decide if this person is deserving of this honor.  In that way he eliminated laziness as a consideration in his decision.

Thanks to this lesson, said Rav Isser, I have a practice that when someone asks me for a letter of recommendation I immediately write one.  Only after I have taken the time and effort to do this, do I then consider if he is deserving of it.  Only if he truly deserves it, do I give it to him.

Thu, 10 Jun 2010 03:00:00 +0000
The Manchester Rosh Yeshiva Dances A Daring Dance It was a cold snowy night in Manchester which made walking outside very difficult.  The aging Manchester Rosh Yeshiva Rav Yehuda Zev Segal was outside on his way home when a car pulled up to drive him.

The driver told the Rosh Yeshiva that his wife had just given birth to a baby girl.  The Rosh Yeshiva wished him a Mazal Tov and asked him how the mother and baby were doing.  He said that they were both Boruch Hashem doing very well.

When the car stopped the Rosh Yeshiva got out into the snow covered street and started dancing with the father in the most unpleasant and unsafe conditions.  The father asked the Rosh Yeshiva why he was endangering himself and dancing on the slippery street.  The Rosh Yeshiva answered that whenever he hears that a mother and child are healthy after childbirth he is so consumed with Simcha and Shevach for Hashem that he needs to dance.  And dance he did! (Heard from the baby's brother)

Thu, 22 Apr 2010 03:00:00 +0000
The Brisker Rov Inspects Before Accepting The Mishloach Manos

Someone came lat in the day to the Brisker Rov's home to give him Mishloach Manos.  The Rov did not take the package but instead walked out of his front door and started to inspect the sky.  The visitor was intrigued by this strange response. 

The Brisker Rov explained to him that the pasuk says "Sonei Matanos Yichyeh", a person who hates gifts will live.  Under normal circumstances I would never accept a gift, said the Brisker Rov.  However today is Purim and there is a special Mitzva of Mishloach Manos Ish L'Rei'eihu which I am happy to participate in.  However the hour is late so I needed to go outside and make sure the sun has not set on Purim, before I could accept your gift.  - Chaim Sheyesh Bahem -

Wed, 24 Feb 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Yehoshua Leib Diskin Warily Eyes The Moving Man

Rav Yehoshua Leib Diskin, the Rov of Yerushalayim, was moving apartments and had a number of moving men carrying his belongings to his new home.  During the move, Rav Yehoshua Leib followed one of the movers who was carrying two stuffed boxes, one on top of the other.  Rav Yehoshua Leib not only followed him out of the apartment, but he walked alongside him the entire way from the old apartment to the new one.  All the while he kept warning him not to switch the order of the boxes and to make sure that after he rests and loads up again he doesn't put the bottom box on top.

After hearing these instructions incessantly during the walk, the moving man finally lost his patience and asked Rav Yehoshua Leib, "what are you so tense about?  What difference does it make which box is on top?"

Rav Yehoshua Leib answered, in complete humility, that the top box contained his father's writings and the bottom box held his own personal writings in it.  "It is not proper that even for a short while my father's writings should be on bottom and mine on top."  

The level of Kibud Av V'Eim by a tzaddik!  (Chayim Sheyesh Bahem)

Wed, 10 Feb 2010 03:00:00 +0000
The Kotzker Rebbe Exposes The "Yetzer Hara's Tzaddik" The Chozeh of Lublin had a falling out with the Yehudi HaKadosh of Peshischa after one of the senior and most Choshuveh Chassidim from the Chozeh's court told false reports about the Yehudi HaKadosh.

The Kotzker Rebbe, who followed the Yehudi HaKadosh, said that we see from here the evil and conniving ways of the Yetzer Hara.  This senior Chasid was a no tzaddik.  However the Yetzer Hara did not interfere with his Avodas Hashem and even helped him his whole life in order that one day late in his life when he tells Motzi Shem Ra to the Chozeh, he would have good standing.  Then his malicious lies would be accepted by the Chozeh and cause machlokes.  Watch out, the Satan is smart and patient investor.  And Lashon Hara is a worthwhile investment for him.

Sun, 07 Feb 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Mendele MiRimanov Saves The Shul

A contingent of government officials came to Rimanov to search the city for a suitable storage warehouse for the army's food and supplies.  After combing the city, the only place they came up with was the local Shul.  When the heads of the Kehila heard, they ran to Rav Mendele of Rimanov to ask him what to do.

One person jumped up and said that as soon as the officials find out that the roof leaks and all their supplies will be ruined, they will not use our Shul as a storehouse.  Everyone agreed and seemed satisfied with the plan.  However Rav Mendele, with his great Yiras Shamayim, heard this and said that they are sorely mistaken.  In fact it is because of the leaky roof that this Gezeira befell them.  If we don't take care of our Shul and are Mizalzel in its honor allowing the roof to leak, what do you expect of the non-Jews?  Go fix the roof right away and everything will be okay. 

They did as they were commanded and never heard from the officials again.

Thu, 21 Jan 2010 03:00:00 +0000
The Sfas Emes Refuses To Be Sent Out The Sfas Emes rarely took any trips as he was a great masmid and preferred to stay put and learn.  Any small trip he took was a great occasion to his Chasidim.  One time he traveled to nearby Warsaw which was not far from his hometown Gur.  When he arrived, a large gathering was waiting for him and his host prepared a lavish Kiddush for the occasion.

The Sfas Emes said that he does not want to attend such a reception.  The host argued that Chazal tell us "Kol SheOmer Licha Baal HaBayis Aseh Chutz MiTzei", whatever the host instructs you to do you must do except if he asks you to leave.  Therefore, said the host, the Rebbe is halachicly bound to attend.

The Sfas Emes replied that the word "Tzei" has another connotation beyond leaving the immediate premises.  The Misha in Pirkei Avos (4:28) says that three things take a person out of the world, Kinah, Taava, Kavod.  Since honor will take a person out of the world and anything that will cause a person to "go out" he need not listen to the Baal HaBayis, therefore the Sfas Emes need not listen to the host and indulge in this honor.  (Chaim SheYesh Bahem - Aish Tamid)

Thu, 07 Jan 2010 03:00:00 +0000
The House Of Brisk Became Chassidishe When It Came To The Shineveh Rebbe One time when a number of Sanzer Chassidim came to visit the Brisker Rov, he told them that he was a Shineveh Chosid. (The Shineveh Rebbe, Rav Yechezkel Halberstam, was the son of the Divrei Chaim the founder of the Sanzer dynasty Rav Chaim Halberstam.)  They all looked at him in shock.  The Brisker Rov the leader of Lithuanian Jewry a Chosid?!?

The Brisker Rov them told them that when the Shineveh Rebbe came to Brisk, the people of Brisk came out to greet him carrying torches in his honor.  His grandfather the Bais HaLevi was among them.  The Brisker Rov said I know with certainty that absolutely nothing impressed my grandfather except for Torah and Yiras Shamayim.  If he went to greet the Shineveh Rebbe it was because apparently he was head and shoulders above everyone else in those areas.  Therefore I am a Shineveh Chosid!

One time when the Shineveh came to visit the Bais HaLevi he was accompanied by many Chassidim.  Before the entrance to the house he told his Chassidim that they should not accompany him into the house.  The Bais Halevi is a Misnaged and is opposed to Chassidim.  He does not approve of our ways and he may not appreciate all of you entering with me.

Apparently the Bais HaLevi was right near the door waiting to greet his guest and overheard the conversation.  He turned to the Shineveh and said, "Sholom Aleichem and Boruch Haba."  Then he smiled and said, "May the Rebbe of Shineveh enter and may his Chassidim enter with him.  Consider yourselves to be in a house of Chassidim!"

Wed, 23 Dec 2009 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Elchonon Wasserman: Let Hashem Put It In Writing At an engagement celebration the father of the Kallah was asked to put into writing the financial commitment that he promised to the young couple.  He did not want to do so saying that they should take his word for it since he was a very dedicated father who always watched out for his children.

Rav Elchonon Wasserman who was present at the time, immediately answered the Mechutan's claim based on the Tefila we say in Shmoneh Esrei during Aseres Yimei Tshuva.  Zachreinu L'Chaim Melech Chafeitz BaChaim V'Chasveinu B'Sefer HaChaim.  We have already asked Hashem to remember us for life, why do we them say to inscribe us in the book of life?  Hashem does not forget and is equally devoted to His dear children, nevertheless we ask to have it in writing.

From here we see, says Rav Elchonon, that as honorable a person may be... always get it in writing!  (Chaim SheYesh Bahem)

Mon, 14 Sep 2009 03:00:00 +0000