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.
“You shall not swear in the name of the Lord,” says the Torah. This is true even if what one is saying is the truth.
The inhabitants of Yerushalayim were exceptionally clever. Rabi Chuna said in the name of Rabi Yose, “Wherever this Yerushalmi went in the provinces, they arranged a seat of honor for him to sit upon in order to listen to his wisdom.”
“And Hashem told Moshe, lift up thy rod over the sea and divide it”... And Moshe ordered the sea to divide. But the sea refused. “Why should I obey you,” it said, “You are but a man born of a woman and besides, I am three days older than you, I was established on the third day of creation, and you were created on the sixth day.”
Shares In The Embarrassment Among the famous practitioners of our forefather Abraham’s virtue, hospitality, was Rav Akiva Eger. Naturally, on Pesach, it was “Let...
In the land of Midyan there lived a pagan priest, Yisro, who was greatly respected by his people. He worshiped idols of stone and wood and so did his countrymen.
Rav Yosef Hochgelanter, the rav of the city of Zamushet, where Rav Akiva Eiger received his early training while still a young boy, was a great scholar and the author of Mishnas Chachamim. At the time he was chosen to be rav of the city he was the son-in-law of a very wealthy man who was very generous with his support.
For weeks before Pesach the people in small towns across Poland, Lithuania and Russia lived only with the Yom Tov in mind. The housewives turned their homes upside down, the matzah bakery became alive, tailors and cobblers prepared to meet the seasonal rush, and the children worked themselves into a pitch of excitement, which they could not have endured had they had to wait for the seder night one day longer than they already did.
A childless man once pleaded to the Almighty, “Creator of the world! Please send me a son so that I may teach him the Torah.” The Almighty heard the prayer and sent him a son whom the father named Shaul. When Shaul was old enough his father began to teach him Torah and, thus, they continued for many years.
One of the great gaonim was Rav Yaakov Berlin, the father of the Netziv (Naftali Tzvi Yehuda of Berlin), the rosh yeshiva of the Volozhin Yeshiva and a leader of European Jewry at the close of the 19th century.
If you were to ask the average Jew who destroyed the Beis Hamikdash and who sent Klal Yisrael into galus (exile), he would instantly answer, “The Romans.”