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Section: Stories   Category: Story Corner
The Problems of a Rabbi
When the son-in-law of the Chofetz Chaim, Rav Aharon Cohen, was a young avreich, he searched for a position in Rabbanus.  Once, an opportunity for a position in a nearby town arose, but despite all his efforts, he didn’t receive the position, and he was very disappointed.

The Chofetz Chaim sensed his son in law’s distress, and he comforted him, “Don’t worry, if you weren’t appointed as a Rav, it’s a sign that you don’t need to serve in Rabbanus.  When I was a young man, I had a position as a Rav, and I resigned.  I’ll tell you why.”
“In the town where I served as a Rav, one of the butchers was caught selling treifus.  I summoned him and rebuked him, and I forbade him from continuing to serve as a butcher.  A few days later, the butcher’s wife and relatives came to me crying, and promised that the butcher had done teshuvah, and that he promised not to repeat his mistakes.  They begged me to let him continue serving as a butcher so he would have a means of earning a living.  I called to the butcher and I saw that he regretted what he did.  I fined him and I restored him to his position, as it’s written in the Shulchan Aruch.”
“A few years passed, and the butcher passed away.  One night, I was sitting in the ezras nashim and learning, and I fell asleep.  While I was sleeping I dreamt that I saw three men whose faces shone like the sun.  I was frightened from their appearance, but they told me not to be afraid.  ‘We came from Shamayim and we want to ask you a question.  When you fined the butcher who sold treifus, was the fine because of teshuvah, or you simply fined him, without taking into his teshuvah into account?’”
The Chofetz Chaim continued, “I strained my memory and I answered, ‘No, I only fined him according to what’s written in the Shulchan Aruch.  I didn’t make a cheshbon that the fine would cause him to be a baal teshuvah.’  After I answered, the three men disappeared.”
“A few minutes passed, and the butcher himself appeared in my dream, and he was black as night.  He was crying and pulling at his hair.  He cried out, ‘What does the Rav want from me? They sent me to the seventh level of Gehinnom, to the depth of the depths.  When they brought me to din, they claimed that I sold treifus, but I claimed that I did teshuvah and the proof was that Rav Yisrael Meir Hakohen fined me and restored me to my position.  However, the prosecutor claimed that the fine was only for its sake alone, and not for the purpose of teshuvah.  The Beis Din shel maalah ruled that they needed to ask the Rav himself what his cheshbon was when he gave the fine.  And then they came to the Rav to ask, and if the Rav had said that the fine was for the sake of teshuvah, they wouldn’t have sent me to the depth of depths!’”

The Chofetz Chaim finished his story, “I woke up from the dream, and I then left the Rabbanus.  It’s true that there were other reasons, but this was the main reason.  If I was capable of causing a neshama to descend to the depth of depths- what did I need to stay in Rabbanus for?”   (Shaal Avicha Yegadcha)

If you have a personal story that you think can inspire your fellow readers or you know of a good story we’d love to hear it.  Send your stories to

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