The great Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakai was once asked by a student, “Rebbe, I have a question which has puzzled me for some time. We find in the Torah a law concerning an eved Ivri, a Hebrew slave. He serves for six years and at the end of that time he may go free. Should he refuse, however, saying that he likes his master and prefers to remain with him, the tribunal takes him and makes a hole in his ear as a punishment.”
From the remarkable beis midrash in the town of Brodi came forth a dazzling number of Talmudic chachamim, many of whom went forth to greatness. The most famous was the great Nodah B’Yehuda, Rav Yechezkel Landau, who was the rav of the Diaspora during his lifetime. But there were other towering scholars who were members of the famous beis midrash. One of them, a giant in his time, was Rav Chaim Tzanzer.
Rabi Yehudah Hanasi (the prince) known as Rebbe had an amazingly warm friendship with the Roman Caesar, Antoninus. The friendship began at the birth of the two men and continued until their dying days.
Rav Moshe Sofer (The Chasam Sofer), one of the greatest Gaonim in his generation, always preached and practiced charity and kindness towards his fellow man. His door was always open to the poor and to the needy for help and advice.
Chazal tell us that Torah is our life and the length of our days. Here is a story that proves this statement quite literally. In Yerushalayim there lived a family in which all the children passed away at an early age. Everything possible was done to protect the children from illness and the slightest danger, however, it was to no avail. Not one child lived past the age of 18.
On Erev Yom Kippur, the Gaon Rav Atshal of Frankfurt (Tifereth Avraham) would usually permit the eating of every doubtful fowl, which was brought before him to decide. He would make all the doubtful cases kosher.
The Strength Of Suffering Man does not have it easy in this world. Sufferings are often visited upon him tempting him to curse his fate...
The Gaon, Reb Nachum devoted all his time, day and night, to collecting money for charity and helping the poor. The vast majority of the people thought so highly of Reb Nachum that they would deduct a fixed amount of their income every week and give it to him to distribute it to the poor. But there was always the exception, some people just tried to avoid contributing.
How often we, even the greatest among us, tend to forget the respect and honor due every single human being. Every one who walks the face of the earth was created in the image of G-d and carries within him the Divine Spark. Therefore, when we insult any human being we are really insulting the Almighty Himself which is the worst of all sins.
The name of the Gaon, Rav Yitzchok Elchonon Spektor, was known to Jewry throughout the world. He was also well know to Russian royalty, having visited the Czar many times to plead for his fellow religionists.
How the Sages of the Talmud used to honor Shabbos! Each day of the week was only an introduction to the coming Shabbos and everything was done with an eye towards Shabbos.
The Gaon, Rav Yisrael Hopstein, known as the Maggid of Koznice, was the prototype of Aharon HaKohen. He loved peace. When the dispute arose between the Chassidim and the Misnagdim he refused to participate in it. When asked to help the cause of the Chassidim, he replied: “Not through quarrels or excommunications can Chassidim hope to win, but only through showing their strength in the study of Torah, prayers, observing mitzvos and doing the work of Hashem.”
In the days of Shmuel Hakatan a terrible drought held the land in its deadly grip. The wheat withered in the field and the grass dried and died. Day after day, the skies remained leaden and no clouds appeared to bring rain and salvation to the parched land.
The Gaon, Rav Eliyahu Chaim Maizel, the chief rav of Ludz, loved his fellow man. He treated every person as an equal; whether Jew or a Gentile and when a matter of dishonesty came before him he bent all of his efforts to apprehend the culprit.
Rabi Moshe ben Nachman, widely known as the Ramban was born in the year 1194 in the town of Gurunda, Catalina. He became famous as a great scholar and sage and wrote interpretations on the Torah and on many Gemaras, and authored many seforim, which are revered to this day. The Ramban was also a philosopher and a physician and his services were in great demand.
Rav Tzvi Hirsh Levin, the rav of Berlin, was an extremely clever and sharp individual and possessed a remarkable sense of humor that he used well in his attempts to get across Torah views.
The power of faith is unmatched; it can lift man above adversity and help him climb the highest of mountains. It can help him overcome pain and torture. It can make him see the light in a night that is inky in its darkness. The Gaon Rav Tzvi Hirsh Levin manifested such a faith when he was a starving and poverty-stricken rav in Halberstat.
Man is seldom satisfied with his life. Even when he has done great things, amassed vast amounts of wealth and achieved great fame, he still yearns for more and his soul is not fulfilled. "No man dies with even half of his ambition fulfilled," say Chazal.