Once a delegation of Jews appeared before Rav Eliyahu Chaim Maizel to complain that the milk being sold in the city of Lodz contained water. The Jewish farm owners were dishonest and had formed an association to cheat the public. The delegation appealed to the rav to intercede.
The following day, the rav summoned the dairy farmers to appear before him. When they arrived, he addressed them as follows:
“Gentlemen, a grave problem has come before me in regards to kashrut. It is a matter of the mixing of meat with milk, which is now being served in the city’s charitable homes. After searching through many seforim, looking through the works of the poskim, of the Rishonim and Acharonim, I have come to one conclusion. The food would be considered kosher if I knew for sure that the milk was not pure but was adulterated.
“We can assure you, Rebbe,” they replied, “that the milk is adulterated. We pour water into every container of milk.”
“Do you all do this?” asked the rav. “Is it possible that there is one among you who sells 100 percent pure milk?”
“We can vouch that everyone does the same thing,” they replied. “We made an agreement amongst ourselves.”
Jumping to his feet, the rav shouted in anger, “You do not feel ashamed to tell me personally of your thievery and crime of fooling the public? I am warning you that as of now, if you do not sell 100 percent pure milk, without water added, I will declare an issur, a ban, upon you all, and no Jew will partake of your milk. Your milk will be worse than chazir and the Jews will purchase their supplies from the neighboring towns.”
The dairy owners swore that they would never again add water to their milk. And from that day onward the city of Lodz had pure milk.
Proper Food For Children
Rav Eliyahu Chaim took a special interest in the welfare of the children of his city. He would look after the poor children who studied in the yeshivas making sure that they were well fed and clothed.
Once, during a depression year, the charity cases were the first to suffer. Money was scarce, and the poor suffered greatly. The leaders of the city, seeing a way to economize, began cutting down on the food given to the poor pupils of the yeshivas.
It was Rosh Chodesh Av, the beginning of the Nine Days of mourning, and of course, no respectable Jews would eat meat on these days. So a limited amount of dairy food was served to the poor students of the yeshivas. This way they managed to save money.
When Rav Eliyahu Chaim heard what was taking place, he summoned the leaders of the community.
“Why aren’t you serving the children of the yeshiva meat?” he asked them in an angry voice.
“Master,” they answered, “it is the Nine Days and we are not permitted to eat meat. Thus, we are serving the pupils dairy.”
“That is the forbidden food I am referring to,” replied the gaon. “The students of the yeshiva are poor and undernourished, for the Torah weakens a person. Therefore, they need the rich meat meals to regain their strength. Regardless of whether it is the Nine Days, their health comes first. Therefore, you are committing a sin if you deprive them of this meat.”
Inviting A Guest
Rav Eliyahu Chaim would go out of his way to invite guests to his home every night. He would serve them himself and when they would object to him taking care of them on his own, he would say, “The mitzvah of tending to a guest is greater than even greeting the Holy Spirit of G-d (Shabbos 127). Do you want me to lose this wonderful mitzvah?”
Once, when the rav was about to leave shul on a Friday night, he noticed a group of people who had not been invited to anyone’s home. Apparently, the members of his congregation had overlooked them.
“Brethren,” he greeted them, “you are welcome to enjoy the Shabbos with me.”
When he entered his home, his wife nearly fainted. Besides the normal complement of guests who were present in their home, the rav was now bringing home a large group of people, and she had not prepared for such a large crowd.
Seeing her look of despair, the rav said, “Come, let us make Kiddush and we can give our meal to our new guests. You know that we usually enjoy eating only a piece of challah dipped in honey and some fruit juices.”
That Shabbos the guests ate the fish, meat and all the delicacies, while the rav and his family had to be content with challah dipped in honey and fruit juices. But the thing they all enjoyed equally was the words of Torah, which the rav expounded upon that Shabbos.