Section: Stories   Category: Gedolim Biographies
Rav Yechiel Heller - The Thoughtfulness Of A Tzaddik's Tears

When Rav Yechiel Heller, the great Gaon and Av Beis Din of Sulvak's was just under 40 years old, his wife died on the first day of Shavuos. Broken hearted he was consumed with emotion and felt the need to cry. However he told himself that crying is assur on Yom Tov since there is a mitzva to be happy on Yom Tov. But then he thought maybe since the burial did not take place yet he has the halacha of an "Onen" and is patur from Mitzvos. Therefore since he didn't have to be happy he is permitted to cry. He still wasn't sure. Then he thought that since the poskim say that if crying is enjoyable for you it is permitted on Yom Tov then he should be allowed to cry since he would be totally destroyed without the ability to shed some tears. (Amudei Ohr)

Rav Heller would sign his name "HaAluv" the pathetic or insulted one. Rav Shach said the reason for this unusual humility was that he once freed an Agunah by use of the halacha of Mi'un (annulment for an orphaned girl who married while she was still a child). Although this is a valid annulment of marriage according to halacha, the Rema says that we don't use Mi'un nowadays as a means of freeing a woman. In this difficult case he used it but carried the burden with him his entire life. (Gedolei HaDoros)

Rav Yechiel Heller's life was cut short and he died in 1861 (according to some accounts 1867) at the age of 47. Among his seforim include his most recognized work Shailos U'Teshuvos Amudei Ohr, Ohr Yesharim on the Haggadah, Oteh Ohr on Shir HaShirim, and Kinah L'Dovid which was a hesped on Rav Dovid Luria.