Revach L'Neshama RSS feed for - Section: STORIES Category:STORY CORNER Copyright 2007, Revach L'Neshama en-US Revach L'Neshama Logo 144 31 Sat, 27 Nov 2021 03:00:00 +0000 240 The Chortkover Rebbe Sends Regards to Hashem in America

A man living in Vienna was struggling to support his family. He decided that his fortune lies overseas in the Guldineh Medina of America, so he bought a ticket travel there and start anew. While he was not one to run to Rebbes before making important decisions, he decided to heed his friends advice and go to the saintly Chortkover Rebbe for a Bracha before embarking on his new life.

He was greeted very cordially be the Rebbe who gave him a heartwarming bracha for his success. On his way out the Rebbe stopped him and said, "When you get to America please sends regards to Hashem." The man a bit befuddled turned to the Rebbe and asked, "Why? Is there a different Hashem in America then in Vienna?" The Rebbe then retorted and said, "If the same Hashem is in Vienna, why do you need to go America for Him to give you parnassa?"

[Ed. note the story as cited above is complete and nothing more needs to be added. For the sake of closure and for those who enjoy a good ending we will continue.] The man took the Rebbe's message to heart and decided to stay in Vienna, accepting the loss of the money he spent on the boat ticket to America. The name of the boat was "The Titanic".

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, 16 Nov 2016 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Nosson Adler Dances For The Donkey One cold winter day, the Gaon, Rabbi Nosson Adler, was traveling together with his esteemed talmid, the Chasam Sofer.  The horses pulling the wagon were trudging through the heavy snow with great difficulty.  Suddenly, one of the horses collapsed and died, and the second horse was not strong enough to pull the wagon alone.  The wagon driver, having no other choice, starting walking to the nearest village to obtain an additional horse.  The two venerated passengers waited in the wagon.

Eventually, the wagon driver returned, leading a.....donkey.  When Rav Nosson saw the donkey, he descended from the wagon, and began to dance happily in the snow.  "Rebbi," asked the Chasam Sofer, "Why are you so happy?"

"Don't you see?" asked Rav Nosson.  "The wagon driver brought a donkey instead of a horse.  Who would have ever thought that I would merit fulfilling the mitzva of, "Do not plow with an ox and donkey together"?  At home in Frankfurt, I never imagined that I would merit fulfilling this commandment.  Now that Baruch Hashem, I merited it, I am filled with joy!"

The passengers instructed the wagon driver to return the donkey, and he brought back a horse in its place.    (Ukarasa Lashabbos Oneg)

Sun, 04 Dec 2011 03:00:00 +0000
A Lawyer Meets His Match

A Rav in England had a friend who was a lawyer, and who knew very little about Yiddishkeit. Once, this lawyer approached the Rav with a very serious dilemma. He was currently defending a non-Jew who had become involved in criminal activities. This man was extremely cunning and deceitful, and the judge who saw right through his lies, decided to prosecute his lawyer as well, since he was a partner to the criminal's deceit. It is common practice in England that the judges can implicate the lawyers, to ensure that they do not become tainted by their clients' wrongdoings. This lawyer was in great danger of not only of losing his right to practice his profession, but of also of receiving a heavy punishment and fine. The lawyer was anguished and worried, and at a loss of what to do.

The Rav said to him, "Listen, my friend, the best advice I can give you is to do what all of Klal Yisrael does. Simply daven to the Ribbono shel Olom, and He'll save you from this tzara." The lawyer replied, "What! I should ask Hashem? It's not possible, and I'll tell you why. Once I already asked for help from Him, and I promised that I wouldn't ask for anything else."

The lawyer explained that few years prior, he traveled to Australia for work, and stayed there for six months. While in Australia, his only daughter, who was then seven years old, suddenly became critically ill. After many tests, it was determined that it was cancer, and she began treatment. Unfortunately, she did not respond well, and she grew sicker. One day, which happened to be Shabbos, the doctor told the lawyer that her situation is critical, and she has only a few hours to live.

The distraught father decided immediately to find a shul. Despite his ignorance of Yiddishkeit, he remembered that when he became Bar Mitzvah, his father took him to shul. He searched for a shul, and eventually found one, which was unlocked. It was the middle of the day, and the shul was empty. He burst out crying and continued crying without a stop for two hours. Amidst his tears he said, "Hashem, I need to ask You something, and I promise You that I'll never ask for anything else. I ask of You that my beloved daughter remain alive." Eventually, the lawyer felt a sense of relief, and returned to the hospital.

He was greeted at the hospital with miraculous news - his daughter had opened her eyes. She began improving little by little, and eventually fully recovered. In fact, her new X-rays showed no sign of a cancerous growth at all, and even the doctors admitted that it was a complete miracle.

The lawyer finished speaking, "So, didn't you hear that I promised Hashem never to ask for anything else? How can I break my promise?"

The Rav said, "Your promise is not valid! Hashem is not a person. You can continue to request whatever you need from Him."

The lawyer followed his advice, and was declared innocent. (Shaal Avicha Veyegadcha)

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 03:00:00 +0000
A Story Of Debt Collecting In Elul

Hagaon Rav Moshe Chadash once told over an incident when he was a bochur in Yerushalayim, and he ate a meal by a family during Elul. While he was in the house, he overheard a conversation between the husband and wife, who were the parents of many children. The wife was complaining to her husband that they had finished all the food in the house, and there was no money to purchase additional food. She reminded her husband that there were several people who owed them money, and since the situation in the house was becoming dire, she asked him to approach these people and request their money.

The husband answered, "I'm sure you remember that it is now Chodesh Elul, and we will soon stand by the Yom Hadin. We will request from Hakadosh Boruch Hu that He will grant us a good and blessed year. And with what zechus will we dare to request a good year from Hakadosh Boruch Hu? In Shamayim, they will present all our debts from the past year! And if the debts of the past year are not enough, they will also remind us of old debts from past years. And what will we answer?"

The husband continued, "The only advice I have is that we also will not demand from our debtors that they return the money to us, and we will struggle to continue to live with what we have. Maybe doing this will serve as a defender for us, and will act for us as midah keneged midah. We won't demand what we are owed, despite the great difficulty it will cause us, and maybe there will be hope that in Shamayim they will also have mercy on us and agree to grant us a good year, and not mention our debts."

Rav Moshe Chadash said, "These were the husband's words, and I was awed by the fact that his wife listened to his words and agreed with them! Despite the fact that she had many small children in the house and had no food left to feed them, she was convinced by her husband's words. These were the type of Jews of yesteryear, with their simple emunah!" (Aleinu Leshabeach)


Tue, 04 Oct 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Eliyahu Lopian Feeds The Cat

One day in Yeshivas Kfar Chassidim, the almanah of the late Rosh Yeshivah, Rav Noach Shimanovich, went down to the storage room together with one of the bochurim to bring up some supplies for the kitchen.  While they were in the storage room, they heard suspicious noises.  When Rebbetzin Shimanovich asked the bochur what the source of the scurrying noises were, he told her that the bochurim had spotted mice on several occasions.  Rebbetzin Shimanovich was aghast at this news, and asked the bochurim to find a solution to the problem.  The bochurim located a cat that would hopefully take care of the burgeoning mice population in the yeshivah.

A few weeks late, the Gaon Rav Eliyahu Lopian was walking around the yeshivah building on his daily walk accompanied by a bachur.  They were discussing words of Torah when they suddenly ran into the yeshivah cat.  Rav Eliyahu was surprised – this was the first time he had seen a cat on the yeshivah grounds.   

“Whose cat is this?” inquired Rav Lopian.  The bochur explained that the cat had been brought to the yeshivah to curtail the mice problem.   

Rav Lopian inquired further, “And who feeds her?”

The bochur answered, “What do you mean?  She has plenty of food –she eats the mice.  We don’t need to bring her food.”
Rav Lopian answered, “I don’t understand.  If she does her job well, and scares off the mice, she won’t have anything left to eat!  We surely have to provide her with food.”

Rav Lopian then entered his apartment and brought out a bowl of milk.  He said to the bochur, “When you want one of Hashem’s creations to serve you and work for you, you need to provide it with food.  This is an explicit mitzvah in the Torah, “And I will put grass in your fields for your cattle –and you will eat...”   (Leorum Neilech)

Mon, 19 Sep 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Hutner the Shadchan Yaakov was the top bochur in his yeshivah.  He was known not only for his intellectual capabilities, but for his yiras Shamayim and refined middos as well.  Therefore, it was quite a surprise to everybody that Yaakov was having problems with shidduchim.  It wasn’t for lack of opportunities, since he had gone out on countless dates, but nothing ever seemed to materialize.  Yaakov was already in his late twenties, and he was beginning to despair.  A veil of sadness could be discerned beneath his normally happy disposition.   

Despite his personal problems, Yaakov continued to learn with hasmada and was mapkid on his sedarim.  However, one day he made an exception to his normally tight schedule to attend the bris of his chavrusa’s son in the Beis Medrash of the Gaon, HaRav Yitzchak Hutner, z’tl.  It was the first time since he had arrived at the yeshivah that he didn’t go directly to the yeshivah’s Beis Medrash after davening.  

After the bris, the attendants crowded around Rav Hutner to greet him and receive a bracha.  Rav Hutner nodded to each person in greeting.  When Rav Hutner spotted Yaakov, he stared at him with his piercing gaze and whispered to him that Yaakov should meet him in his private office as he wished to speak with him. Apparently, Rav Hutner was able to discern Yaakov’s unspoken distress.
Yaakov stood by the door of Rav Hutner’s office, wondering what Rav Hutner could possibly wish to speak to him about.  A few minutes passed and Rav Hutner appeared, and ushered Yaakov inside his office.  The door closed, and Yaakov suddenly broke down.  His emotions from years of internalizing his sorrow and loneliness were released.  There was no need to explain – Rav Hutner understood everything.
Rav Hutner spoke, “I have a segulah, a mesorah from our rabannim; answering Amen Yehah Shemah Rabbah with all one’s koach. Answering Amen Yehah Shemma Rabbah is a tefillah for the magnification of kavod Shamayim, and through it, one fulfills the mitzvah of kavod Hashem.  It’s possible that once in your life you were mechallel the shem Shamayim and due to this, the gates of Shamayim have been closed to you.  When you answer Amen, Yehay Shemay Rabbah loudly and with kavanah, you are mekadesh the Shem Shamayim. This is a tested segulah - if you persist in following it, you’ll soon merit to stand at the chuppa, and if you’ll continue afterwards, you’ll also merit a bris.”  
Yaakov thanked Rav Hutner, left the office and returned to yeshivah.  On the way, he thought to himself that the eitzah of a Gadol Hador is not only a segula, but also an horaah, and an horaah one must fulfill forever. When Mincha arrived, Yaakov already began to say Amen, Yehay Shemah Rabba loudly and with kavanah.  A few short weeks later, Yaakov became a chassan and a year later, he was zoche to a son.  Rav Hutner was honored with sandakus.    (Shiru  Lamelech) 

Wed, 07 Sep 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Meir Shapiro's Lesson In American Style Marketing Rav Meir Shapiro travelled to America to raise money for his Yeshiva Chachmei Lublin.  A crowd came to greet him upon his arrival.  The next day the newspaper reported that 5,000 came to greet the European Rosh Yeshiva.

Rav Meir Shapiro was shocked to see this blatant lie being reported.  In fact there were only about 500 people in attendance.  When the reporter was asked why he exaggerated ten fold he replied, "I thought there were only 50 people there.  Had I known there were 500 I would have written 50,000!  (Tal Oros)

Welcome to the Goldeneh Medina Reb Meir!

Wed, 17 Aug 2011 03:00:00 +0000
The Poor Feeding The Poor

During the Holocaust we find stories of amazing courage by previously ordinary people and hear sickening stories of the depths that people sink to. Desperate times call for desperate measures and people make tough decisions about how they will behave. Ask yourself, if you were there and struggling to save your own life how would act towards others?  Would you rise or fall to the occasion?

Yosef Friedenson wrote that one of the most pitiful sights in the Warsaw ghetto was the hordes of homeless children wandering around in rags, barefoot, with their stomachs swollen from hunger. They would wander the streets begging for "a pizele broit" (a crumb of bread). In those precarious times, no one had a crumb of bread to spare, and people hardened their hearts to the cries of these starved children. However, his father, Rabbi Eliezer Gershon Friedenson, the renowed askan, talmid chacham, ba'al chessed, and editor, could not ignore their cries. He would cut up little pieces of bread, wrap them up in paper, and throw them out the window. The news spread quickly that a "rich man" was giving away bread, and every night, a group of children would crowd around the window.

One evening as the children were starting to crowd around like they did every night, R' Friedenson started cutting up the last loaf of bread in the house. He handed out the whole loaf to the children. There was no bread left in the house for supper, or for breakfast the next day. There was no money in the house to buy more. When R' Friedenson realized what he had done, he did not show distress. Instead, he began humming an old Jewish song. "Oif Morgen vet G-tt sorgen- Let the Good G-d take care of tomorrow." He then sat down with his sons, Yosef, Shimshon, and Raphael, and gave them a shiur in Hilchos Tzeddakah. The main point of the shiur was that even the poor are obligated to give tzedakah.

The life of this spiritual giant, a man who literally gave away his last crumb of bread, was snuffed out by the Nazis in 1943. (Source: A Path Through the Ashes)

Sun, 14 Aug 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Buried With Respect Or Dying With My People?

In 1942, the Germans had begun raiding the Warsaw ghetto and sending the Jews to concentration camps. During the first raid, the Germans, with the eager help of Ukrainian soldiers, surrounded the building where Rabbi Tzvi Michelson one of the oldest rabbanim of Warsaw lived, and barked in their megaphone that everyone inside the building must exit immediately. All the Jews in the building went outside except for Rabbi Michelson. His reasoning was that those who remained inside would eventually be found and shot by the Germans. They would then throw their bodies onto the street. It was possible that other Jews would find these bodies, put them on the cart that collected the dead in the ghetto, and bury them in a halachically correct way. On the other hand, those who turned themselves over to the Germans would be hauled off to a concentration camp. They would die there also after much suffering. To make matters worse, the rabbi had heard that they would be cremated instead of buried. He preferred the first option.

Rabbi Michelson decided to remain where he was and prepare himself for his death. He put on his tefillin and wrapped himself in his tallis. Eventually, the Germans, and a Jewish ghetto policeman broke down the door, and stormed into Rabbi Micheson's room. Suddenly, they stopped in their tracks. The sight of Rabbi Michelson with his flowing white beard, clad in his white tallis, standing before them was an awesome sight. The ghetto policeman (who survived the war) heard one of the Germans whisper to himself, "Why it's Moses himself!" Unbelievably, the Germans turned around and left the room, without harming Rabbi Michelson.

The Rav was left alone in the room. He could hear the shouts and moans from outside. He was able to see the Jews being pushed into the trucks from his window. He started having second thoughts. He knew that the Germans would eventually kill him, but he would die alone. Was it right to separate himself from the community in order to merit a proper burial? After a moment's thought, Rav Michelson decided to join his brethren heading for Treblinka. He left the room, went down the stairs, and walked into the courtyard. He joined the Jews on their final journey to Treblinka, and was able to serve as a source as strength for his fellow Jews. He never merited a proper burial, but he merited to live as a compassionate Jew among his brothers until the very end.

(Source: The Unconquerable Spirit)

Tue, 09 Aug 2011 03:00:00 +0000
The Chofetz Chaim Speaks About The Horrors Of World War III

The mashgiach, Reb Yechezkel Levenstein, z'tl, used to give over a vaad to avreichim.  On one occasion, he related that he had heard that the Chofetz Chaim said that there will be a second war which will cause the First World War to appear like child's play.  There will then be a third war, which will make the second war appear like child's play.

A sense of dread and gloom fell over those listening, and Rav Shalom Schwadron found the courage to ask the Mashgiach why it was necessary to utter such harsh words.  Wouldn't it be preferable to simply daven to be saved from future harsh decrees?

The Mashgiach became very agitated and said, "You completely misunderstood what the Chofetz Chaim intended with these words! The Chofetz Chaim's main intention was that there will be a dearth of emunah!  The dearth in emunah during WWI was child's play compared to the dearth of emunah during WWII, and the darkening of emunah that will be during the third war will make everything previous seem like child's play. During a war, they shoot a few guns, but this is not the essence of the war!  (Shi'al Avicha VeYagaidcha)

Tue, 09 Aug 2011 03:00:00 +0000
The Alter of Slabodka Fumbles The Davening

One day just before mincha the Alter of Slabodka ran into Shul and without missing a beat or stopping for a moment he ran straight for the Amud to be Chazan. This really shocking scene was followed by an even more peculiar one. As he started saying Kaddish he stuttered and swallowed and fumbled and jumbled the words.

After davening everyone tried to figure out what exactly that was all about. Slowly the story was pieced together and the tzidkus of the Alter was revealed. A gentleman in the town became an Aveil and due to his poor reading skills when he went to the amud he read the words with great difficulty and was terribly embarrassed. The Alter showed him that even he, the great Rebbi can have trouble before the Amud sometimes due to nervousness. In this way the Alter embarrassed himself to alleviate the pain of another. (Rav Chaim Zaitchek - HaMi'oros HaGedolim)

Wed, 06 Jul 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Naftali Trop Stays Up To Watch The Thief A vagrant Jew had acquired a reputation as a thief, and was ostracized by society.  However, when he came to Radin, he encountered Rav Naftali Tzvi Trop, the famed Rosh Yeshivah of the Chofetz Chaim's Yeshiva.  Rav Trop greeted him warmly, invited him to eat by his table, and even offered him a bed to sleep for the night in his home.  The Jews of Radin began murmuring with each other, wondering why R’ Trop was exerting himself for this unsavory character.

Someone worked up the courage to ask R’ Trop directly why he was treating this thief with such warmth.  R’ Trop answered in surprise, “It’s known that a thief pays back double the value of what he stole, and if he can’t pay it back, he’s sold as a slave.  But where is it written that I’m exempt from fulfilling the mitzvah of hachnasas orchim?    Isn’t he a Jew?  Didn’t Avrahahm Avinu fulfill the mitzvah of hachnasas orchim even with Arabs who worshipped the dust of their feet? It’s true that it’s risky to bring a suspected thief into my house, but I can watch over him carefully the whole time he’s in my home.  However, I have no excuse to exempt myself from the mitzvah.”

The next day, the people in Radin heard that R’ Trop had done exactly what he had said.  He had stayed awake the entire night to guard the thief while he slept in his home.          (Sidras Tikkun Hamiddos)

Wed, 29 Jun 2011 03:00:00 +0000
The Holy Wooden Spoon The author of the sefer “Ohel Dovid” lived in dire poverty.  Once, the Chasam Sofer was visiting in his city, and he went to visit him.  When the Chasam Sofer entered his house, the Ohel Dovid was in middle of eating, and he saw that he was eating his meal from a simple plate made out of wood and even his spoon was wooden.  The Chasam Sofer was astounded; he simply could not fathom such dire poverty.  
The two began conversing, and in the midst of the conversation, the Chasam Sofer picked up the wooden spoon and examined it in wonder.  The Ohel Dovid didn’t understand that the Chasam Sofer was simply shocked that by the fact that he was eating from such simple utensils, and concluded that he must really admire the spoon.  He began worrying that there was a possibility that the Chasam Sofer may stumble in the prohibition of  “Lo Tachmod.”  Quickly, the Ohel Dovid said, “I’m giving you the spoon as a present with a full heart.”
The Chasam Sofer loved to repeat this story, emphasizing how this tzaddik was so pure that it didn’t even enter his mind that the Chasam Sofer was simply bemoaning the fact that he was forced to eat from these simple wooden utensils. (Shaal Avicha Veyegadcha)

Tue, 14 Jun 2011 03:00:00 +0000 Rav Eliyahu Chaim Meisel, z’tl was the Rav of Lodz and one of the Gedolei Hador in the second half of the nineteenth century.  In addition to his gadlus in Torah, he was a gadol in chessed.  He spent much effort easing the plight of those who were less fortunate.  It was common at the time that poor Jewish children were kidnapped and conscripted into the Russian army, but this never happened under his jurisdiction.
Once, Rav Meisel met with Rav Chaim Ozer, z’tl, and Rav Meisel praised the Sefer Achiezer which R’ Chaim Ozer had recently published.  R’ Chaim Ozer asked R’ Meisel, “When we will see a sefer from you?”  Rav Meisel responded by emptying his pockets of little folded pieces of paper.  They were promissory notes from loans he had signed to enable him to aid widows and orphans.  He said, “This is my sefer.  I am so busy with problems of this nature that I don’t the time to complete a sefer.”  Rav Chaim Ozer responded, “My sefer pales in comparison to your sefer.”  (Sidras Tikkun Hamiddos)

Wed, 18 May 2011 03:00:00 +0000
The Chofetz Chaim's Articulate Polish In one of the last years of the Chofetz Chaim’s life, the Polish government decreed that every Rav was required to learn the Polish language.  In light of the decree, the Chofetz Chaim called for a meeting of Poland’s eminent Rabannim.  At the meeting, the Chofetz Chaim declared that this decree could cause the churban of Torah. The Rabannim decided that it was necessary to arrange a meeting with the President of Poland to attempt to annul the decree.  The Chofetz Chaim let it be known that he himself would travel to meet with the President, and several Rabbanim agreed to accompany him.  Rav Leib, the Chofetz Chaim’s shamash, accompanied him to the meeting in Warsaw, and later told over the story of what had occurred there.    
The Rabbanim traveled to Warsaw for the meeting, and the Chofetz Chaim was presented as the Chief Rabbi.  The members of the Polish government were astounded that that such a feeble man, who was almost unable to walk, was the Chief Rabbi.  The Chofetz Chaim began to speak in Yiddish.  “Our Torah says to daven for the welfare of the kingdom.  We’re living now in galus under the rule of Poland, and every day after davening, I daven for the welfare of the Polish government.  We came here now to discuss the decree that every Rav must know Polish.  We are sure that this will be the churban of Yahadus. If the government of Poland does not interfere with our Yiddishkeit, we submit completely to your rule, and will pay all your taxes. But we are obligated to guard our Yiddishkeit as we see fit.  If you interfere with our Yiddishkeit, you’ll experience a downfall like all our enemies suffered in all the generations, beginning from Pharaoh the Rasha.”
The Chofetz Chaim finished speaking, and the translator’s face paled.  How could he possibly translate what the Chofetz Chaim said?  On the other hand, he was afraid to change the words of the Chofetz Chaim, because he knew that the Chofetz Chaim had ruach hakodesh and would surely realize that his words were not translated accurately.  But if he would translate exactly what the Chofetz Chaim said, he could not imagine the repercussions!  As he was still pondering what to do and say, the President of Poland arose and said to him, “You can sit down, you don’t need to translate a word; just tell me in essence what he wants.”
The translator hurried to say that the Chofetz Chaim is requesting to annul the decree on the Rabannim to learn Polish.  The President answered, “There are many languages in the world, and one who speaks Polish may not know English, and one who speaks English may not know Polish, but there is one language which everybody understands, and that is the language of the heart.  The Rav spoke with the language of the heart.  There is no need to translate, I understood everything.”  He immediately sat down and signed a paper canceling the decree.    (Shaal Avicha Veyegadcha)

Sun, 15 May 2011 03:00:00 +0000
The Brisker Rav Mulls Over The Mishloach Manos

It was close to sunset on Purim, and someone entered the house of R’ Velvel of Brisk with shalach manos.  The Rav ran out of the house to see whether the sun had set yet.  When the Rav came back into the house, someone asked him the reason for his puzzling behavior.

The Rav explained that he did not wish to accept presents under any circumstances due to the dictum, “One who despises presents will live” which is not a light matter.  However, on Purim accepting presents stems from the din of shalach manos.  Now that Purim was almost over, he wanted to check whether the sun had set, which would cause the shalach manos to become a mere present - which he was not willing to accept.   (Chayim Sheyash Bahem)

Tue, 15 Mar 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Chaim Brim Refers To His Blank Notes Horav Chaim Brim, z’tl was once invited to speak at an event.  The speaker who preceded R’ Chaim at the event used notes that he referred to as he spoke.  Rav Chaim was then called up to speak, and he also referred to his notes as he spoke.  When he finished speaking and left the podium, he forgot to take his notes with him. 

When the event was over, someone straightened up the room and he found the notes which R’ Chaim Brim had left at the podium.  To his puzzlement, he saw that the “notes” was a blank piece of paper.  After a few minutes of thought, he realized what had occurred. Rav Chaim was known for his exquisite sensitivity to the feelings of others.  When he had observed that the first speaker had referred to notes as he spoke, he had feared that he would embarrass him if he then spoke without notes.  Therefore, he decided to refer to his “notes” as he spoke as well.

Wed, 02 Mar 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Elchonon Wasserman Sends The Childless To America

Rav Issar Zalman Meltzer once asked Rav Shach to ask the Chofetz Chaim for a bracha for a childless couple who lived in Russia. The Chofetz Chaim refused to give a bracha because the couple lived in an area where no Torah education was available for children. He said that it was better for them not to have children if it was impossible to educate them in the Torah way.

This is similar to another story which Rav Simcha Wasserman told about his father, Rav Elchonon Wasserman, h'yd. Rav Simcha was sitting with his father sometime before WWII and R' Elchonon had just finished telling Rav Simcha that his role in life was to travel to areas where there was a dearth of Torah and spread Torah. In fact, this is exactly what Rav Simcha did, traveling to France, and America. Unfortunately, he and wife remained childless all their lives, but were spiritual parents to thousands of students in the various cities they lived.

Immediately after R' Elchonon had finished instructing R' Simcha that he would be traveling, a man entered to consult with R' Elchonon. The man wanted to move to America because of the ominous situation for the Jews at that time in Europe. R' Elchonon refused to give his approval, and said, "Better for your children to die a physical death here in Europe than die a spiritual death in America."

R' Simcha said that he when he heard his father's words to this man, which immediately followed his instructions to his son to travel to Torah wastelands, he knew with certainty that he would never bear children. (Heard from Rabbi Akiva Tatz)

Sun, 13 Feb 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Tzvi Hirsch Broide's Litigates Against His Wife

One time the wife of Rav Tzvi Hirsh Broide, the son-in-law of the Alter of Kelm , suspected the orphan who helped her with her housework of stealing something from the house. She berated her about this. Her Husband Rav Tzvi Hirsch told her that since the girl is an orphan she cannot antagonize her, but if she believed she had a real claim she should take the girl to Bais Din.

His wife agreed and set up a date with Bais Din. When the time came, his wife got ready to leave the house. She saw that he was also getting ready to leave. She told her husband that he need not come with her to Bais Din since she is perfectly capable of speaking to Bais Din herself.

Rav Tzvi Hirsch said to her that he was not going to Bais Din on her behalf, but rather to defend the poor girl who had no one to defend her and was not capable of defending herself.

Mon, 31 Jan 2011 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Boruch Ber Leibowitz Teaches Bialik How To Smoke On Shabbos Chaim Nachman Bialik the famous Israeli poet learned in Volozhin in his youth before going off the derech.  He learned there at the same time as Rav Boruch Ber Leibowitz.  One time many years after their Volozhin days when Rav Boruch Ber was already a Rosh Yeshiva in Kaminetz, Rav Boruch Ber has the unpleasant experience of meeting Bialik in the street. 

Rav Boruch Ber crossed the street not wanting to have any encounter with him, but Bialik pursued him.  Berel, I here you are considered a big Gadol today, said Bialik sarcastically.  Since you are such a big lamdan maybe you find a way for me to smoke on Shabbos without being Michalel Shabbos?

Rav Boruch Ber without looking up at Bialik, since you may not look at the face of a Rasha, answered him, "Sure, you can smoke it with a Shinui.  Put the lit end in your mouth!"  (Heard From Rav Shimshon Pincus)

Fri, 12 Nov 2010 03:00:00 +0000
One Playgroup and Three Weddings An avreich in Rechasim had the good fortune of having two sets of twins born to him one after the other, in addition to his older children.  However, the good fortune was accompanied by the reality of having four extra mouths to feed in a short amount of time.  His wife decided to open a gan (playgroup) in their apartment to help support the family.  Their apartment was on the ground floor with an adjoining courtyard, so it was an ideal setting for a gan.  They asked permission from the neighbors, who were aware of their difficult financial situation, especially since the birth of the two sets of twins, and they all graciously agreed.  Each one gave permission in writing for the opening of the gan.
All the preparations were going smoothly, until one of the neighbors decided to retract his permission, citing two reasons for his decision.  First of all, his wife suffered from high blood pressure, and he was worried that the noise from the gan would negatively affect her health.  Secondly, three of his children had strayed from the Torah path, and he was making all kind of efforts to influence them to return to a Torah lifestyle.  He feared that if his children would see that the charedi neighbors were not considerate of their mother’s high blood pressure, they would be very angry, and there would be no hope of them returning to a Torah life.  
The avreich was very distressed by the neighbor’s decision, and he consulted with one of the rabbanim in the city.  The Rav paskened that even if the neighbor’s wife suffers from high blood pressure, he’s forbidden from retracting his original agreement, since his agreement was considered a neder.  The avreich told the neighbor about the Rav’s psak, and the neighbor requested to speak with the Rav himself.  The avreich took him to the Rav, and the Rav repeated his psak that it was forbidden for him to retract his agreement.  However, the Rav also had something additional to say.  He took out a bottle of wine and said to the man, “If you grant permission for the gan, you’ll be zochech to pour from this wine at the chasunos of your three children, after they return with a teshuvah shelaima!”

When the neighbor heard these words from the mouth of the Rav, he granted his permission again for the opening of the gan, and the two neighbors left in peace.  As the years passed, the Rav’s words were fulfilled completely.   (Barchi Nafshi)

Sun, 31 Oct 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Moshe Feinstein's Erev Yom Kippur Preparations

On Erev Yom Kippur after Mincha in Tiferes Yerushalayim, everybody hurried home to eat the seudah hamafsekes, and finish preparing for Yom Kippur. The Rosh Yeshivah, Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt"l, however, had other plans. Walking home with his talmid, he suggested that they visit the elderly rav of Boyan. This rav was bedridden, and R' Moshe was aware that most people would be too busy to visit him on Erev Yom Kippur. His talmid agreed and they both hastened to reach his house.

When they arrived, they found the rav lying in bed alone and dejected. The rav's face lit up when he saw Rav Moshe and his talmid. They sat down, and Rav Moshe talked to the Rav at length, without showing the slightest bit of impatience or worry about the passing time. Rav Moshe sat and talked until he saw a discernible change in the Rav's mood. Only then did he arise, and wish the Rav a gemar chasimah tovah. Once he was outside, he quickly hurried his steps to reach home in time to eat the seudah hamafsekes.

Tue, 14 Sep 2010 03:00:00 +0000
The Chofetz Chaim Passes Around A Petition There was a town near Radin whose Mikva fell into disrepair and could no longer function as a kosher mikva.  The Chofetz Chaim, then at a very advanced age, wrote a letter to the community leader urging them to raise money for the important cause.  His words fell on deaf ears as the townspeople cried poverty.

After a number of appeals failed, the Chofetz Chaim, despite his frail health, personally traveled to the town and called a meeting in the Shul.  He told the people that he is very old and does not know how many more years he has left on earth.  But when it comes to an end he will stand before the Bais Din Shel Ma'ala and need to account for all his actions.  They will ask him, "Yisroel Meir what did you do about the town near Radin that did not have a functioning mikva.  How can you let a Jewish community be without such an important and central need?"

To this I will respond said the Chofetz Chaim that I appealed to them many times but my words fell on deaf ears.  What more could I have done?  Therefore, said the aged tzaddik, I am passing around a form for everyone to sign that attests to the truth of my words.  I need to take this with me to show them.

Needless to say the speech had its intended effect and the mikva was repaired.  (Rav Pam on Chumash)

Fri, 03 Sep 2010 03:00:00 +0000
The Young Yehuda Lowe Plays Child Judge Before The Ruler Of The City
In the marketplace in Prague, in side by side stores with an adjoining wall, were stores owned by a crooked fragrance dealer and an honest oil merchant.  The Jewish oil merchant had a good reputation and his business thrived, while the crooked fragrance dealer struggled to bring customers into his store.

One night after the market was closed the fragrance dealer drilled a small hole in the adjoining wall.  He spent the next several days observing the oil merchant.  He noticed that each night the oil merchant would count his daily revenue and place it into a red pouch that he would hide.  This gave him an idea.

The next day he ran into the street screaming that his money had been robbed and he suspected the oil merchant since he is the only one who knew that he placed his money in a red pouch.  Sure enough the police found the red pouch in the store of the oil merchant.  Because of their respective reputations no one really believed the fragrance merchant but he told a good story and a trial was set to take place.

The talk of town was the big trial and the streets were full of debate as to who was the thief.  Even the children talked voraciously about the upcoming trial.  The ruler was in a conundrum and didn't know who to believe.  

One night before the trial, the ruler walked the streets and overheard some Jewish children playing "court".  One child presided, while arguments were made by other children pretending to be the two claimants.   The ruler amusingly stood by listening to the proceedings.

After hearing both sides, the young judge asked them to bring a bowl of water.  "We will put the coins in the water.  If oil spots come floating to the top then we know the coins were handled by the oil dealer and he is innocent.  If nothing floats to the top we will know that the rightful owner is the fragrance dealer and the oil merchant is a thief."

The very next day during the real trial before a packed courtroom, after hearing both side, the ruler asked for a bowl of water...  The oil merchant was proven innocent and the liable was discovered.  When all the townspeople praised the Ruler on his incredible wisdom, he said do not praise me but the little boy who gave me the idea.

That little boy whose name was Yehuda Lowe, said the Brisker Rov, is better known today as the Maharal MiPrague.  (Zichronam Li'Vracha/Uvdos V'Hanhagos L'Bais Brisk)

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Ben Ish Chai - Achav Is Learning Torah Here In Bagdad
The Ben Ish Chai once said that fifty years earlier a Chacham had a dream that a certain Mikubal in Bagdad was a Gilgul of Achaz the King of Yehuda.  The Ben Ish Chai commented, look how long it has been from the days of Achaz until now and he is still trying to achieve his Tikun!

More recently, said the Ben Ish Chai, one Talmid Chochom dreamed that another Talmid Chochom is a Gilgul of Achav the wicked king.  The Talmid Chochom who this was spoken about was very hurt by the news, as Achav is considered among those who have no Olam Haba.  The Ben Ish Chai told him not to feel bad.  First of all only a small part of your Neshama is from Achav and most of it is your own.  Secondly, do not dismiss the greatness of the Neshama of a King from lofty times.  We cannot comprehend either their sins or their vast greatness.  Furthermore only the good part of Achav's Neshama is in you, and who knows if there is anyone in this generation that can boast of a Neshama so great.

He concluded by wishing him Arichas Yamim and success in helping the Neshama reach its final Tikun.

Mon, 23 Aug 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Binyomin Mendelson Cancels His Trip To The Chazon Ish After Showing His Kvitel To The Belzer Rov

Rav Binyomin Mendelson was the legendary Rov of the famous religious farming settlement of Komemius. He would be Michazek the farmers to keep all the Mitzvos of agriculture in Eretz Yisroel, especially the great challenge of Shmittah. He would often visit the Belzer Rov Reb Aharon for a bracha for the settlement's Hatzlacha.

One time a baby boy was born in Komemius and the father wanted Rav Mendelson to be the Sandek. Rav Mendelson declined the honor because he had already been sandek by the man's previous son's Bris and the Rema says that one person should not be sandek twice, since it is a Segula for wealth and we want to spread it around. The father was insistent that the Rov take the Kibud and since some people are noheg to give it to the Rov more than once, Rav Mendelson was in a quandary.

He decided to travel to Bnei Brak to asked the Chazon Ish his opinion on the matter. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Rav Mendelson decided to go into the Belzer Rov with a personal Kvittel and Kvitlach from all the people of Komemius hoping to get a bracha.

When he came in to the Belzer Rov, he passed him all the kvitlech. Reb Aharon then told Rav Mendelson that he would only read Rav Mendelson's kvitel and not the rest of them, since when the Rov gets a bracha it flows to all his constituents as well, so it was unnecessary to read each individual request.

Then the Belzer Rov went on to explain himself. He said the Rema says that we don't let one person be a Sandek twice since we want to spread the wealth. However said Reb Aharon, we know that there is a Minhag to give it to the Rov more than once. We see from this minhag that when the Rov gets a bracha it goes to everyone, and therefore he can be Sandek many times without a hoarding the wealth.

When Rav Mendelson heard these prophetic words he accepted the Bracha of the Belzer Rov and headed straight back to Komemius without any more questions. And of course he gladly accepted Sandekaus at the Bris.

Sun, 01 Aug 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Reb Shalom Schwadron's Trip To The Doctor

Reb Shalom Schwadron accounted, "Once I was on my way to the doctor with one of my children, and on the way, I met the Gaon, Rav Issac Sher, z'tl. We exchanged greetings, and he asked me where I was going, and I informed him that I was taking my child to the doctor. He then asked me, "Why are you going to the doctor?" and I responded that my child is sick. He repeated the question a few times, each time with a different emphasis, as he was waiting for me to understand what he was really asking. Finally, I stopped answering him as I understood that my answer was not the one he was seeking.

He then said, "A grown animal takes its baby to the doctor." I didn't respond, and he continued, "Every animal worries about its helpless babies - feeds them, gives them to drink, and takes care of all of their needs. If so, you are also acting like an animal when you take your child to the doctor. How can it be different? A father who takes his child to the doctor needs to be aware that he is performing chessed with a Jewish neshama which needs a refuah, who also happens to be his child. This is how each Jewish parent should act with his children, and not like an animal which feeds and takes care of the needs of its young because they belong to her. We should strive to take care of our children only because the Torah commands us to do chessed!"

On the same day that I spoke with Rav Issac, I had the opportunity to see one of the greatest talmidei chachamim in Yerushalayim, Rav Chaim Todros Hershler, z'tl. I noticed him as he was on his way to his house, as he spotted his wife drawing water from the well, who was struggling with difficulty to lift the bucket. As he hurried to help her, I heard him say quietly, "Behold, I am ready and prepared to fulfill the mitzvah of chessed." He didn't say this because it happened to be his wife, but because she was also his wife. Later, I heard that even when he feeds his small children, he would say, "Behold, I am fulfilling the mitzvah of gemilus chasadim." (Shaal Avicha Veyegadcha)

Thu, 29 Jul 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Reb Shlomo Friefeld's Car Didn't Die, It Just Fainted

Reb Shlomo Friefeld, the Rosh Yeshivah of Sh'or Yoshuv was a unique individual with an exceptional ability to affect others through his incredible Ahavas Yisrael and simchas hachaim. His belief in each person's importance and spiritual potential endowed others with the ability to believe in themselves as well. His simchas hachaim was a spiritual inheritance from his rebbe, Reb Yitzchak Hutner, who told him shortly before his death that the key to acquiring light is remaining joyous. Rav Friefeld's simchas hachaim was accompanied by an indomitable optimism.

On one occasion, a friend of Rav Friefeld's received a call from him one morning. His jalopy had died in middle of traffic and he needed help. His friend recruited others and they rushed to the nearby neighborhood where he was stranded in middle of traffic, and helped him push the car to the side out of the way of traffic. His friends, who were fully expecting him to park the car on the side of the street, were shocked to see him floor the gas pedal and reenter the line of traffic. "I need to go to Williamsburg," Rav Friefeld explained. His friends were open-mouthed. "How do you expect to get there when your battery just died?" Rav Friefeld smiled and said, "It didn't die, it just fainted."

Rav Friefeld's friend always remembered that phrase, "It just fainted" as summing up Rav Friefeld's approach to life, his belief that there was always hope and possibility. This was the belief that he was able to exude to others, thereby changing many lives.       (Wings With Which to Fly)

Tue, 27 Jul 2010 03:00:00 +0000
The Tzaddik Who Sent His Wife And Children To Siberia

Rav Dovid Mintzberg was thirty-two years old when he was chosen to fulfill the position of the mashgiach of Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin. This position was formerly filled by the renowned R' Meir Shapiro, who passed away in his prime. R' Mintzberg was known for his genius and tziddkus, and was gifted in public speaking and education.

When the Germans arrived, R' Mintzberg and his family moved to Rutki-Kossaki, a town that was still under Russian control. For the time being, they were out of physical danger, but life under the Communists posed a new spiritual danger. The Communists' official policy was atheism, and practicing or learning about religion was strictly forbidden by law. The Russians insisted that all refugees had to become Russian citizens. R' Mintzberg was wary of the spiritual danger this would pose, and decided to refuse this ultimatum, despite his awareness of the possible ramifications.

One Friday night, while R' Mintzberg was learning in shul, Russian soldiers banged on the door and threatened the family with immediate exile to Siberia if they continued to refuse Russian citizenship. Exile to Siberia was often the equivalent of a death sentence; many people who were sent there did not survive. Rebbitzen Mintzberg sent someone to consult her husband; included in her question was also a warning. Rebbitzen Mintzberg wanted to make sure that her husband did not return home; at least he would be spared from being exiled. She made this decision despite its frightening implication for her; she would endure this ordeal alone. In addition, she carried the weighty responsibility of caring for her seven daughters, the oldest of who was only twelve, in a foreign and hostile land.

Rav Mintzberg wanted to join his family, but a good friend refused to allow him to leave the shul and fall in the hands of the Communists. However, he did manage to send a message to his wife that they should agree to be exiled to Siberia, even on Shabbos. Rebbitzen Mintzberg and her daughters were exiled to Siberia, bereft of their husband and father, and all of their worldly possessions.

R' Mintzberg remained alone in Poland. Eventually he sent for his son, who had been studying in Vilna. The Haskalah movement had been influencing many youngsters and R' Minzberg was afraid of his son's spiritual safety in Vilna. He preferred that his son join him in Poland, despite the physical danger, where he could protect him from negative spiritual influences.

When the fate of the Jews became clear, R' Mintzberg passed up an opportunity to try to save his life when partisans in the surrounding forest requested that he join them. R' Mintzberg preferred to remain with his community, and help prepare them for their death. During Elul, the Jews were forced to dig a mass grave. R' Mintzberg and his son's lasts words were "Shema Yisrael" as they were shot into the pit.

Rebbitzen Mintzberg and her daughters survived their ordeal in Siberia, and were able to leave Russia after the war was over. R' Mintzberg's decision had saved their lives.

Sun, 18 Jul 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer's Sad Goodbye

R' Shneur Kotler, the Rosh Yeshivah of Lakewood, escaped Europe and managed to survived the Holocaust after experiencing great miracles. Eventually, he arrived in Eretz Yisrael, joining his grandfather R' Isser Zalman Meltzer with whom he shared a very close relationship. Once he was in Eretz Yisrael, news reached him that his kallah who he was engaged to before the war was still alive. However, she was unable to join him in Eretz Yisrael so R' Shneur made plans to travel to her to finally get married.

On the day of his departure R' Shneur went to his grandfather's house to part from him. R' Isser Zalman expressed his great joy on his grandson's upcoming marriage and began accompanying him down the stairs. Surprisingly, after descending only two steps from his second floor apartment he turned around and went home. Everybody present was shocked and puzzled by his behavior. Was this a fitting way for R' Isser Zalman to part from his dear grandson who he would probably never see again?

One of his students dared to ask him why he had not accompanied his grandson all the way down the stairs. R' Isser Zalman said, "As I was walking down the steps, I saw a vision of the thousands of Yidden who did not merit living long enough to marry. I returned home to join in their pain." (Source: Stories My Grandfather Told Me)

Wed, 07 Jul 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach The Husband

"Although it is customary to ask forgiveness from one who has died," R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach said at his wife's funeral, "I shall not do so. Throughout our entire marriage we never offended or hurt one another. We conducted our lives according to the Shulchan Aruch, and I have no reason to ask her forgiveness."

The following is an example of R' Auerbach's exquisite sensitivity towards his wife combined with his exactitude in fulfilling the Shulchan Aruch. R' Yitzchak Yerucham Borodiansky told this story in one of the eulogies during the shivah week.

Once, R' Shlomo Zalman's sister came to his house to ask about a certain bachur who was suggested as prospective match for her daughter. When she first entered the house, there were a few people waiting to speak to R' Shlomo Zalman. She waited until they left, and finally she was alone with R' Shlomo Zalman and his Rebbitzen. She asked him about the bachur, and he answered, "He's a fine boy."

When R' Shlomo Zalman' sister was about to leave, he asked her if she was planning on visiting their sister in Sharei Chessed before she went home and she answered in the affirmative. Later, when she left the house of their sister, she found R' Shlomo Zalman waiting outside. He approached her and said, |"Regarding the bachur, you should know that you should only ask about others in privacy." "But who was there?" she said. "The Rebbitzen was there," he said, "and she doesn't need to hear loshon hara." Then he told her, "Don't follow through with this shidduch. He's not for your daughter."

R' Shlomo Zalman felt responsible to convey the proper information to his sister, but he was so sensitive to his rebbitzen's feelings that he didn't even want to ask her to leave the room. Instead, he used his precious time to meet his sister in another location, saving his wife from hearing loshon hara and from being insulted! (Source: The Man of Truth and Peace)

Thu, 17 Jun 2010 03:00:00 +0000
A Contract Until 120

Reb Chaim Gelb was a unique individual - a tzaddik and gaon in chessed who spent his entire life strengthening Yiddishkeit and performing chessed for others. He was a resident of Williamsburg, Brooklyn at a time when most Jews there were not frum, and he worked tirelessly to strengthen Shemiras Shabbos and all aspects of Jewish observance. At a young age, he quit his job so he could devote all his time to performing acts of chessed and tzedaka. His wife, who was a full partner in Rav Chaim's lifetime of chessed, willingly supported the family.

In the mid-twentieth century, modern American values were already slowly seeping in the frum community. Rav Chaim was not pleased with the increase in broken marriages, and was concerned with its negative affects on the future of Klal Yisrael.

As a man of action, he was not one to remain silent. At every wedding that he attended, Rav Chaim would stand on a chair after the chuppah was over, and announce in a loud voice, "A contract for 120 years!" The guests would shout "Amen!" and Rav Chaim would step down from the chair, satisfied that he had taken action to uphold the value of shalom bayis and a lasting marriage. (Reb Chaim Gelb: A Life of Chessed)

Sun, 13 Jun 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Yehonoson Eibshitz Doesn't Know Where He Is Going

One day Rav Yehonoson Eibshitz was walking to Shul when the powerful ruler of the region, with whom he had often conversed, met him in the street. The ruler had great respect for the brilliant mind of Rav Yehonasan. Upon seeing Rav Yehonasan the ruler asked him where he was going. Rav Yehonasan replied that he didn't know. Assuming he didn't hear the simple question, the ruler asked again. Once again Rav Yehonasan answered that he didn't know.

The ruler, thinking he was joking around, got very angry with Rav Yehonasan and threatened to throw him in jail if he continued to play games with him. Rav Yehonasan apologized deeply for the ruler's impression that he was making fun of him, but nevertheless told the ruler that he didn't know. Incensed, the ruler immediately summoned his guards and had Rav Yehonasan taken to jail.

The next morning the ruler came to visit Rav Yehonasan in jail and said to him, "Rav Yehonasan, I don't understand you. You are an intelligent, upstanding, and honest person and I am certain you were not on the way to any illegal activity. Why would you make a laughing stock out of me and have yourself sent to jail rather than tell me where you were going??"

Rav Yehonasan replied "My presence in this jail is precisely the reason why I couldn't tell you where I was going. I set out for morning services in the local synagogue, but, I ended up in jail. I can only tell you where I am intending to go but as to where I am really going, only Hashem knows and apparently he had other plans for me."

As the Yiddish expression says "Ah mensh tracht un Gut lacht" loosely translated to "If you want Hashem to laugh share your plans with him."  Do You Know Where You're Going????

Sun, 23 May 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rebbi Akiva Eiger And The Chavas Da'as Escort An Empty Wagon

Rebbi Akiva Eiger was renowned for his modesty.  His totally unassuming character is the subject of many stories.  One time Rebbi Akiva Eiger And Rebbi Yaakov MiLissa, the author of the Chavas Da'as and Nesivos HaMishpat, traveled together to Warsaw for a gathering of Rabbonim.  Eagerly awaiting the arrival of these two great gedolim whom they had never seen, the people of Warsaw waited for them at the outskirts of the city. 

When they arrived, the horses were immediately unhitched from the wagon so that the people could have the honor of pulling the chariot of these twogedolim by hand.  Upon seeing this, Rebbi Akiva Eiger jumped out of the wagon and joined the crowd pulling assuming that this great honor was done for the great Rav of Lissa.  Unbeknownst to him the Chavas Da'as assumed that this great honor was for Rebbi Akiva Eiger and had jumped out of the wagon from his side.

Together with the leaders and the lay people of Warsaw, these two gedolim humbly pulled the empty carriage to the city honoring the missing Gadol inside.  (Sarei HaMei'ah 1:251)

Sun, 09 May 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Eliyahu Chaim Meisel Calmly Shmoozes In The Bitter Cold One winter in Lodz was particularly cold and prices of firewood skyrocketed, leaving the poor people without any means to warm themselves.  The famed Rov of the city, Rav Eliyahu Chaim Meisel, decided to take upon himself to collect money for firewood from the wealthy people of the city.

The first stop was the home of the wealthiest man in Lodz, Mr. Posnanski.  When the doorman saw the Rov coming he quickly went to get his boss, who although wearing light clothing, immediately came to the cold door personally to greet the Rov.  He invited the Rov in to talk.  The Rov returned his greeting but began to talk without moving from the door.

The Rov was making small talk and casual conversation about nothing in particular.  He discussed the comings and goings of the city, world news, on and on without seeming to indicate the reason for his visit.  Mr Posnanski stood and listened with respect while his bones began to freeze from the cold.  

The Rov kept on going with endless conversation as if he were relaxing somewhere comfortable instead of standing in the freezing cold.   After a long while the cold became too much for Mr. Posnanski and he apologetically asked the Rov if they can move into the warm living room.  Without budging Rav Eliyahu Chaim said that now he will tell him why he came.  He told him about the lack of firewood, and Mr. Posnanski gave him the large amount that he asked for.  Only then did the Rov finally accede and followed the host into the living room.

When they sat down in the comfort and warmth, Mr Posnanski asked the Rov why he insisted on speaking for so long at the door in the cold.  Rav Eliyahu Chaim said that the world says that a satisfied man cannot comprehend the pain of those who are starving.  Similarly those who live in heated homes cannot fathom the pain of those linving in frigid apartment with no heat.  Had we sat inside you would not have given as generously as you did after standing in the cold for so long and experiencing a small taste of the poor peoples' pain.  (Gedolei HaDoros)

Wed, 28 Apr 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Who Was That Guy?

Reb Refoel Levine, the son of the renowned tzaddik, R' Aryeh Levine, was a remarkable tzaddik in his own right. Like his father, his tziddkus was most evident in his tremendous concern and love for his fellow Jews, especially those who were in need of support and encouragement.

One Motzei Shabbos, Reb Refoel was walking to the Kosel with a talmid when a man approached him to say hello. Reb Refoel answered him and asked him how his wife and children were doing. Apparently the man's family life was a difficult one because he spent the next few hours pouring his heart out. R' Refoel listened intently the entire time, and offered the man words of comfort. He sent him off with heartfelt brachos, and sent regards to his family. He reassured the man that he was davening for him as he said goodbye.

Reb Refoel's talmid was curious about who this man was, after seeing how much time R' Refoel had devoted to him. "Who was that man?" he asked.

R' Refoel responded, "I don't know. This is something I learned from my father. If someone greets you as if he recognizes you, you should respond to him in the same way." (Moshe Schapiro)

Sun, 18 Apr 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Why Was Rav Avigdor Miller's Head In The Sink?

Rav Avigdor Miller was known for his emphasis on appreciating the wonder and beauty of nature and the vast wisdom of the world that Hashem created among a multitude of other qualities from which we can learn so much. This classic story epitomizes his constant focus on appreciation for Hashem.

Once, a grandchild visited Rav Miller at home and was puzzled to see his grandfather with his face in the sink. After a few minutes, Rav Miller stood up, and breathed deeply. "The air is so wonderful," he said.

His grandchild said, "Why was your face in the water for so long that you couldn't even breathe properly?" Rav Miller said, "On my way home, someone started talking to me and commented that lately, the air has been polluted. I didn't want my appreciation of Hashem's air to lessen, so I decided to deepen my appreciation of air. After depriving myself of air for just a short while, I now am even more thankful to Hashem for providing us with such wonderful air. (Rabbi Shmuel Brog)

Sun, 11 Apr 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Of Persian Scarves and Chametz in Berditchev

The Chasidim were stunned when the Holy Defender of the Jews, Reb Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev announced just a few moments before starting Kiddush on Lel Ha'Seder that he would not begin the Seder until they gather together fifty Persian scarves, 10 pounds of Turkish tobacco, and one loaf of bread.

"But Rebbe they cried where are we supposed to get these items? The scarves and tobacco are all contraband and no one has any. Besides that you know it is Pesach. Where can we find a loaf of bread in Berditchev". The Rebbe said "as you wish but I will not start the Seder".

After going from house to house throughout the Jewish community explaining their strange request, the Chasidim met with little success. After two hours of searching they came up with only 5 scarves and no tobacco or Chametz. They laid their findings out before the Rebbe and pleaded with him to start the Seder but he insisted they meet the full quota without excuses.

This time the Chasidim were even more vigorous and pleaded with the members of the community to please be forthright for the sake of the Rebbe and the entire Kehilla and hand over any of these items in their possession.

After a short while they returned to the Rebbe hoping that this time he would agree to start the Seder with what they found. They emptied out one bag with over 100 scarves and another bag with four times the quota of tobacco. "Very nice" said the Rebbe "but where is the Chametz". With tears in their eyes the Chasidim pleaded with the Rebbe "please Rebbe this is ridiculous where should we find Chametz in Berditchev"???

The Rebbe then lifted his eyes to the Heavens and said "Dear Father in Heaven. The Russian have made owning a Persian scarf punishable with 25 years of hard labor and have policeman deployed throughout the city but nevertheless the Jews of Berditchev own at least 100 scarves. Furthermore there is a death penalty for anyone caught with Turkish Tobacco and the borders of Russia are guarded by hundreds of thousands of soldiers nevertheless there is plenty of Turkish tobacco to be found in Berditchev".

"You have Hashem have no visible army or police force, nor is there any physical signs of your heavenly court and your command of not possessing any Chametz was declared over 3000 years ago yet there is not one speck of Chametz to be found in the entire city". "U'Mi K'Amcha Yisroel" he shouted as he began his Seder.

Thu, 01 Apr 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Aryeh Levine's Jailbreak... Inward A Jew was arrested and jailed on Shabbos Kodesh during the era of the British rule over Eretz Yisrael.  R’ Aryeh Levine, z’tl, who was known as the Rav of the prisoners, was aware that this prisoner was a frum Jew who would not touch the food served in prison.  R’ Aryeh prepared food for Shabbos for the prisoner and brought it to the prison.  He approached the prison administration, explained why he had brought the food, and requested permission to deliver it to the frum prisoner.  The administration refused to fulfill his request.

However, R’ Aryeh was not so easily deterred.  He empathized with the pain and hunger of the Jew, and tried to think of another way to deliver the food he had prepared for him.  After a few minutes of thought, he called over the two Jews who had accompanied him to the prison.  He looked around to ascertain that no one was watching, and he climbed on their backs, despite his advanced age.  He then scaled the high walls of the prison and jumped inside, where he gave the food to the Jew.  The prison officers immediately grabbed him and brought him to their commander for his serious breach of law.

However, when the prison commander was informed that R’ Aryeh had endangered himself by scaling the high walls of the prison, he related to him with great respect rather than censuring him.  He said to him, “I’m now sure that you don’t receive a salary for your position as the Rav of the Jewish prisoners.  It’s impossible that someone who fulfills his position for a salary would show such great sacrifice.”     (Barchi Nafshi As told to R’ Zilberstein by R’ Elyashiv)

Wed, 24 Mar 2010 03:00:00 +0000
The Vizhnitzer Rebbe Demands an Extra Matza From The Skulener Rebbe

Pesach was fast approaching in Post World War II Romania and the Skulener Rebbe zy"a was fortunate to have someone illegally obtain for him some wheat and a mill on the black market.  Since there were very few matzos to go around the Rebbe decided he would allot 1 matza to all the Rebbes in the surrounding area.

The Vizhnitzer Rebbe zy"a hearing about the availability of matzos sent his son to the Skulener Rebbe.  Upon his arrival the Skulener Rebbe gladly handed the Vizhnitzer Rebbe's son the matza he put aside for him.  After receiving the matza his son said that his father requested 2 matzos.  The Skulener Rebbe explained that their was a limit of one in order to allow as many of the Rebbes as possible to all be mikayem the miztva of eating matza.

 The Vizhnitzer Rebbe's son explained that he had strict instructions from his father to bring back two matzos and made it clear that he would not leave back to his father until he had two matzos for him.  Seeing that he had no choice the Skulener Rebbe relented and gave him two matzos.

 A few weeks later on Erev Pesach the Vizhnitzer Rebbe's son knocked on the Skulener Rebbe's door and asked to speak to the Rebbe.  When he was brought in to the Rebbe he pulled out a single matza and handed it back to the Skulener Rebbe.  Befuddled the Rebbe asked him why he was so insistent on taking two matzos when he first came and why did he make the long trip, on Erev Pesach of all days, to come and bring it back.

The Vizhnitzer Rebbe's son explained that when his father heard that the Skulener Rebbe had only a small quantity of matzos and was giving them out, he was sure that at the end the Skulener Rebbe would inevitably give out ALL the matzos leaving nothing for himself for Pesach.  Therefore the Vizhniter Rebbe schemed to take an extra matza for safekeeping so that he can return it to the Skulener Rebbe Erev Pesach so that he himself would enjoy a seder that included the prized matzos.

Sun, 21 Mar 2010 03:00:00 +0000
What Is Scarier Than The Russian Army?

Reb Yechezkel Levenstein, a Kelmer and a student of the Chofetz Chaim, was the Mashgiach of the Mirrer Yeshivah during their flight from the Nazis through Siberia to Shanghai. Shortly before the war began, the Jews were apprehensive and uncertain about the times ahead. Furthermore, there was great uncertainty about which enemy was the worse of two evils, the Germans or the Russians. A palpable sense of doom was felt everywhere. The yeshivah students had already heard ominous rumors about the vicious behavior of the Russians, and their hatred of everything religious.

R' Levenstein gave a shmues shortly before Rosh Hashanah of 1939, which was also shortly before the official beginning of World War II. R' Chatzkel was aware that he was facing a beis hamedrash filled with bnei Torah with great fear in their hearts, but he was not pleased with the source of the fear. He said, "It is not because of the Russians that you need to fear. It is only the Yom HaDin that you need to fear." The absolute conviction in R' Chatzkel's voice helped instill emunah and bitachon in the heart of each person present, and fortified them for the difficult times ahead. (Reb Chatzkel)

Sun, 14 Mar 2010 03:00:00 +0000
The Brisker Drasha - Quick & Short, No Time To Nap The Brisker way was to say short Drashos.  As the Brisker Rov would say, the goal is to reach the truth, which can be done quickly with few words.  At the wedding of the Brisker Rov's son Reb Dovid, the Chosson stood up and gave a drasha as was the minhag back then.  The son of the great Brisker Rov gave a drasha that lasted a whole of seven minutes.

There was an Adam Gadol who was present who expressed surprise to the Chosson about the brevity of his Drasha.  Reb Dovid did not respond and neither did the Brisker Rov.  This Gadol then again commented and said that it was befitting the son of the Brisker Rov to give a longer Drasha.  At this point the Brisker Rov became a bit agitated in his seat but still remained quiet.

When this Gadol did not give up and made his third remark about the length of the Drasha, the Brisker Rov broke his silence.  He said, "Does one need to speak longer?  I was at a Chasuna where the Chosson spoke so long that I had time to fall asleep and even wake up again.  Even after I awoke the Chosson still had nothing to say."  (Rav Moshe Shmuel Shapira - Zahav MiShva)

Mon, 08 Mar 2010 03:00:00 +0000
I Think I Came To Israel Just To See You

On one of R' Nachman Bulman's trips from his home in Eretz Yisrael to New York, his close friend, Rav Yechiel Perr, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Derech Ayson, came to see him. He noticed how exhausted R' Bulman appeared and asked him why he was so tired. R' Bulman answered that he was up the night before the trip. R' Perr expressed surprise that R' Bulman didn't make sure to rest before his long flight. R' Bulman sighed and told him a story which aptly illustrated his devotion to helping and inspiring people.

A young girl from the States had traveled to Paris to study art, and she became involved with a non-Jewish artist there, who eventually proposed marriage. She called her parents and told them she was thinking of marrying this artist, and wanted to know if they had any objections to the fact that he wasn't Jewish. Her parents reassured there that they had no problem with it whatsoever, and if she loved him, she should marry him.

The girl was surprised by her parents' reaction since she had expected them to be opposed. Her own doubts about marrying a non-Jew led her to inquire about Yiddishkeit. Eventually, she decided that she should travel to Israel, where she had never visited, before she made a decision to marry him or not. She impulsively set out for Israel, without any concrete plans of what she would do when she stepped off the plane. Once she was off the plane and standing in line, she started chatting with the person next to her. She admitted to the woman that she wasn't sure why she had come to Israel, but she had simply felt she had to come, and she had no idea where she would go. The person she was talking to said, "There's someone in Jerusalem, R' Nachman Bulman; you must go talk to him."

The woman gave her the phone number, and the girl called from the airport. "Rabbi Bulman, I was told I must see you." R' Bulman apologized that he was unable to meet with her as he was leaving to America the next day. She said, "Please, I think I came to Israel just to see you. Please don't say no." Rav Bulman agreed, and the girl came that night. After speaking to him for a few hours, she enrolled in a seminary for ba'alos teshuvah, and Rav Bulman lost his night's sleep.    (Rabbi Yechiel Perr)

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 03:00:00 +0000
A Shul Seat Story

Last we published an article about being asking people to leave our seat in Shul (Help! Someone Is Sitting In My Makom Kavua).  In response we received the following story from a reader that we wanted to share with you.

A young teenager whose parents were killed by the Nazis escaped to Switzerland. He went into an Orthodox synagogue. No-one welcomed him, but he was told he cannot sit in the seat. All others were booked.  He walked out of the shul depressed. He then married out. Only years later he tried to return to Judaism. His wife and kids converted. All this trouble because they wouldn't let him sit in their shul seat.   That guy is now my father-in-law.

Mon, 22 Feb 2010 03:00:00 +0000
A Holy Toothless Jew

A Russian Jew once struck up a conversation with his seatmate on a bus in Eretz Yisrael, and in the course of the conversation, described himself as a Yom Kippur Jew. His seatmate immediately thought that he meant that he went to shul only once a year on Yom Kippur. However, the Russian Jew explained to his new friend that he was referring to something else.

He was a soldier in the Russian army following WWII. In order to avoid serving on Yom Kippur, every year he would feign illness. Each Yom Kippur, he would show up at the army doctor and moan over his "toothache" and beg to have his tooth pulled. After his tooth was pulled, he was freed from his duties for the rest of the day. The Russian Jew flashed a toothless smile to his seatmate, and said, "I was in the army for six years and I lost six teeth this way, but at least I never worked on Yom Kippur." (Meoros Daf Yomi)

Mon, 01 Feb 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Special Fruit From Reb Yitzchak Isaac of Ziditchov Every year on Tu B’shevat, the table of the Admor Rebbe Yitzchak Isaac of Ziditchov, z’tl would be surrounded by many chassidim and guests, and the Rebbe would distribute fruits to everybody present. 

One year, more visitors arrived than usual, and even the huge amount of fruit which had been prepared was not enough to be distributed to everyone surrounding the table. 

The Rebbe looked up and discerned what had happened.  He then said, “Is it fruit that you want?  Come close and I’ll tell you where you can find them.  ‘These are the precepts whose fruits a person enjoys in this world, but whose principal remains intact for him in Olam Haba…and Talmud Torah is equal to all of them.’ Go and occupy yourselves with Torah, and you will find numerous fruits without any crowding, besides for the principal which will remain for you in Olam Haba.      (Chayim Sheyash Bahem)

Fri, 29 Jan 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Spared From The Fire

One day, a fire began on the street where the home of the Chofetz Chaim was located. The fire was spreading quickly, and all the houses in its path were in danger of being burned down. All of the houses' residents began frantically gathering their most valuable possessions, and prepared to vacate their houses. The Chofetz Chaim, who was already an elderly man, sat in his chair amidst the turmoil, deep in thought. His family was puzzled by his behavior, but the Chofetz Chaim continued to sit and think with an anxious expression on his face, ignoring the tumult around him.

Fifteen minutes passed, and the Chofetz Chaim suddenly breathed a sigh of relief. He quickly arose from his chair, and walked toward the corner of his house, where a high shelf was situated. He stood on a chair to reach it, and took down a small watch. He then gathered his other possessions, and joined his family in vacating the house.

When his family questioned him, he clarified the reason for his mysterious behavior. "A yeshivah bochur had asked me to keep his watch in my house. Baruch Hashem, I found it; there's a specific mitzvah to guard anything given to one for safekeeping."

His family and students were astounded at his answer. During a time of crisis, when most people react with fear and panic, the Chofetz Chaim's first instinct was to save a yeshivah bochur's watch! (Stories My Grandfather Told Me)

Tue, 26 Jan 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Shlomo Zalman Stays Around To See The Presents The Rav of Ramat Chen, Rav Y. Auerbach, the nephew of Reb Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, z"tl was orphaned from his mother and father, and Rav Shlomo Zalman took care of all his needs.  When he married, Rav Shlomo Zalman took the place of his father at the wedding.  The wedding took place in Tel Aviv, and the chassan and kallah were planning on living in Tel Aviv after the wedding. 

After the wedding, Rav Shlomo Zalman informed the family that he wished to spend the night in Tel Aviv.  All the relatives were shocked since they were sure that Rav Shlomo Zalman would return directly to his house in Yerushalayaim after the wedding. Whoever was familiar with Reb Shlomo Zalman's tight schedule of learning and davening, knew that it was very rare that he spent a night away from his home, if at all.         

For many years, Rav Shlomo Zalman's nephew was unaware of the reason his uncle decided to stay the night in Tel Aviv.  He eventually discovered the reason when he merited to also tend to the needs of an orphan, including accompanying him to the chupah.  Rav Shlomo Zalman called him before the wedding and said, "I hope that you do for the orphaned chassan what I did for you."  His nephew didn't understand what Rav Shlomo Zalman was referring to, until he reminded about the night after his wedding when he stayed the night in Tel Aviv.

Rav Shlomo Zalman explained, "Every chassan and kallah receives many gifts on the day of their wedding.  One of the happiest moments after the chasunah is when the young couple opens their presents, and afterwards they show them off to their parents.  You had no parents, and I knew you wouldn't be able to enjoy these happy moments.  Therefore, despite the difficulties it involved for me, I stayed in Tel Aviv the night after the wedding so that you could show me your presents the next day."      (Aleinu Leshabeach) 

Tue, 19 Jan 2010 03:00:00 +0000
Rav Elyashiv & The Heartbroken Kohen

A couple that had been married for fifteen years without being blessed by children, decided to divorce, despite their harmonious marriage. Shortly after the get was completed, the woman discovered she was pregnant. The joyous news had a very sad side; the husband was a Kohen and was forbidden to remarry his former wife. Their pain and heartbreak knew no bounds.

The husband poured out his pain to Rav Chaim Kanievesky, who told him that he couldn't see any way that he could remarry his former wife, but he suggested that he should consult with his father in-law, Hagaon, Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv.

The man went to R' Elyashiv and repeated his tale of woe. R' Elyashiv told him with great pain that it's definitely forbidden for a kohain to remarry his former wife. "The only thing I can tell you is that you should go to the Kosel Hamaravi, and daven to Hashem that he should save you."

The kohain regarded R' Elyashiv's words as a direct instruction, and immediately upon leaving R' Elyashiv's house, went straight to the Kosel. When he reached the Kosel, he approached the stones and poured out his heart without restraint. After davening for a lengthy period of time, the kohein felt a hand on his back. He turned around and saw an avreich talmid chacham, who inquired what had happened to him. The kohen repeated his painful story, and the stranger asked him, "Do you have a father?" The kohen didn't understand the point of the question, but he answered that of course he had a father. His father was very old and was living in a nursing home in America, and barely communicated with those around him.

"In my opinion, you should fly to America, and tell your father what happened to you," said the man and he turned to leave. The kohein tried to explain to him again that his father's condition made it almost impossible to communicate with him at all. There was no reason that he should make such a great effort to fly to the States to tell his elderly father the story. However, the stranger brushed off his words and turned to go.

The kohein eventually decided to heed this man's words. He reasoned that if Rav Elyashiv told him to go to the Kosel to daven, and if this stranger approached him while he was davening and advised him to fly to America, maybe it was worthwhile for him to go. He arranged a flight, and a day and half later, he was already at his father's side, in the nursing home.

The medical staff had informed the son when he first arrived that his father had not uttered a word for many months, and that he shouldn't expect his father to speak to him. The kohein began his story, and his father didn't respond, but he seemed to be listening to what his son was saying. As the son continued his story, he began crying, and couldn't stop. The unbelievable then occurred; his father began speaking and said clearly that he was not his biological son, but was adopted after the Holocaust; he did not have the status of a kohen, and there was no reason that he couldn't remarry his former wife. (Barchi Nafshi)

Tue, 12 Jan 2010 03:00:00 +0000
One Chanukah Rav Chaim Ozer Met The Tailor In Cracow... Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzinsky, z”tl once visited Cracow.  When he arrived, Rav Chaim Ozer sought a tailor who could sew his suit which had torn on the way.  He eventually found one, and requested that he fix his suit. 

The tailor answered, “Forgive me, Kavod HaRav, but I have not yet lit the Chanukah candles.  If you wish, you can wait until I light, and after a half an hour, I’ll sew your suit.”

While Rav Chaim Ozer waited, he noticed how this simple tailor prepared himself for the mitzvah.  He removed his weekday clothing, and donned Shabbos clothing.  He washed his hands and joyously prepared to light the candles.

Rav Chaim Ozer was astounded by the temimus of this man and he said, “Now I understand how the city Cracow produces such Gedolai Torah and giants of spirits, if this is what the simple tailors are like!”   (Chaim Sheyash Bahem)

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 03:00:00 +0000