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.
Rav Chaim Soloveichik, the Torah luminary of the city of Brisk, was a legendary figure when it came to charity and good deeds.
Many inspiring stories emanate from the Lubavitch chassidic movement. One of the stories published in Di Yiddishe Heim bulletin describes the early years of Rav Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch, known as the Tzemach Tzedek. This year marks the 146th anniversary of his passing.
“Leave me Zemira,” cried Raamyah, “I have shamed you and your family. I have deceived my child whom I love so much. Turn your back on me for I can offer you only tragedy and unhappiness.”
As Zemira threw herself (and her infant), into the path of the king’s carriage, the crowd shrieked. Hastily, the driver reined the horses up sharply, and the hoofs of the lead horse stopped barely inches from where she lay.
No matter what Zemira said and how much she implored Avinadav to tell her what was bothering him, he remained adamant in his silence.
In the days of the Second Beis Hamikdash the Romans ruled over Eretz Yisrael and installed a king by the name of Hordus, or Herod, to enforce their rule. Hordus was an evil and ambitious man, and was quick to do whatever the Romans requested of him, no matter how terrible the decree was. Because of this, the Jewish people hated him, and this in turn caused him to hate them even more.
In the 19th century, the heart of European Jewry – its centers of Torah learning, its crown of glory – was centered in the vast expanse of the Russian Empire. There, under the hand of the czars, lived millions of Jews – poor in material wealth but blessed with a love of Torah and a dedication to their faith that was unshakeable.
Lag B’Omer is the yahrzeit (anniversary of the death) of Rabi Shimon bar Yochai. Thousands visit his grave in Meron to pay homage to this tzaddik and leader in Israel.
Reb Aryeh Leib, the author of the Shaagas Aryeh, was one of the great minds of all times. His genius led him to be very impatient with people, especially with communal leaders who were not worthy of their exalted positions. Because of this he was seldom able to remain as rav in one town for very long, and spent much of his life wandering from city to city, in great poverty.