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Jan. 24, 2020 - 27 Tevet 5780

5649/c.1889 Rav Shamshon Ben Refoel Hirsh - Chorev, Igros Tzafun

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Section: Stories   Category: Gedolim Biographies
Rav Yitzchok Blazer: Master Of Silence

Rav Yitzchok Blazer also known as Rav Itzele Peterburger was talmid and successor of Rav Yisroel Salanter as the head of the Mussar movement.  During the period of the Yomim Nora’im Rav Itzele would not speak even to his wife, except for the time when his daughter was born and he wished his wife Mazal Tov.  

Rav Chaim Berlin related that Rav Itzele left in his Tzava’a that they should not say a Hesped for him after his death.  Rav Chaim Berlin asked Rav Shmuel Salant if he should abide by the Niftar’s wishes and he said yes.  A few days after his Petira, said Rav Chaim Berlin, Rav Itzele came to him in a dream and thanked him for honoring his request.  He then asked him Rav Itzele what Din Shamayim is like.  Rav Itzele told him that a human being cannot fathom the depth and detail of the Din and that they are particularly Makpid on a person’s speech.  This from a person who mastered the art of silence!

His pursuit of Haskamos before printing his Sefer Pri Yitzchok illustrates his anivus.  He sent his Sefer to two renowned Geonim far from his home country, Rav Shlomo Kluger in Brody and Rav Yosef Shaul Natansohn the famed Shoel U'Maishiv of L'vov for them to review and give a haskama.  Yet he didn't ask for any haskamos from the Gedolim of Lita where he lived.  Why?  Because he was afraid that the local Geonim who knew would write excessive praise about him personally, while these two Geonim did not know him and would keep their comments directly related to the quality of the Sefer.

Rav Itzele was the Rov of Petersburg, the capital of Russia at the time.  He was pushed into the position by Rav Yisroel Salanter.  One time the city hosted a convention of the Gedolei HaDor.  During the convention the Bais HaLevi, Rav Yosha Ber Soloveitchik, posed a very difficult question raised by his son Rav Chaim.  A great Torah debate broke out among the gedolim who were all trying to answer the question, each one showing the depth and breadth of their abilities.  At the end, the Bais HaLevi gave two answers, one from himself and one from his son Rav Chaim.

During this whole scene Rav Itzele, the Rov of the city, just sat there quietly.  This made the Bais HaLevi wonder what kind of Adam Gadol he was and how he earned such a good reputation.  Later the Bais HaLevi went to peruse a sefer the Rav Itzele wrote to see for himself.  He was amazed to find the question he had posed, with two answers, his answer and Rav Chaim’s.  Such was the greatness of Rav Itzele Peterburger.

At the end of his life in 5664/1904 he moved to Yerushalayim where his home became a central meeting place for the Gedolei Yerushalayim, and he assumed a central role in all affairs.  Poor health forced him to move to Yaffo, but when he saw the end was near he returned to Yerushalayim where he was niftar with the Gedolei Yerushalayim present at his bedside on 11 Av 5667/1907.  Yehi Zichro Boruch! 

RELATED ARTICLES:anivus  Rav Itzele Blazer  Shmiras HaLashon

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