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.
“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.”