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July 5, 2015 / 18 Tammuz, 5775
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His Own Faults

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Once, Rav Shabsi HaCohen, the Shach — author of the Sifsei Cohen on the Yoreh De’ah and Choshen Mishpat – had a dispute with a prominent merchant of Vilna. The matter pertained to a monetary transaction, and each claimed loss and damages.

They decided to take the case to Rav Avraham-Aba, who lived in a distant city.

Before they started out, the Shach reviewed all the points of his case in accordance with the Talmud, Rambam, Tur and the Shulchan Aruch, and he was convinced that his arguments were superior and that he would win the case.

Rav Avraham-Aba heard both sides and then found in favor of the Shach’s opponent.

The Shach was dumbfounded. “Surely, you must be mistaken,” he said. “I have reviewed my case and I find that in accordance with the Torah I have to be right. Will you please tell me on what source you based your decision?”

The elderly rav approached his bookcase and took out the sefer, Sifsei Cohen on the Choshen Mishpat, which the Shach had authored the previous year and which was acclaimed throughout the world. He then turned to one of the pages on which the Shach discussed a similar case. Pointing to it, he said, “I based my verdict on this decision established by the Shach.”

Looking into the subject, the Shach saw that the rav was right. The previous year he had discussed a similar case and awarded the decision to the other party.

Revealing his identity, the Shach then exclaimed: “Look how great are the words of our sages who declared (Shabbos 119a), ‘A person never sees nor finds fault with himself!’ ”

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His fifth stage of life starts when he is 18 years of age. He is then compared to a mule.

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To his amazement and disappointment, however, David HaMelech showed not the slightest indication of stopping for even a moment.

When his students saw the mule, they decided to clean it and smooth it for their teacher.

Rav Yosef Shmuel looked at the guests and said, “I am very sorry, but I am hired to do the holy work of teaching children Torah. I am not allowed to waste even a moment from this work. This evening, when I have finished, I will be glad to see you and talk with you.”

Finally, his wife came in with the dinner that she had hurriedly prepared and which was not comparable to the wonderful repast she had given away.

The great giant of his time, the Vilna Gaon, once said that the Shaagas Aryeh had the entire Talmud and its commentators at his fingertips and that he could relate the gist of all of them and their sources in one hour.

As for myself, I can only answer that the yetzer hara has persuaded me to take the position because of the honor.

“It must be that beggar,” he exclaimed. “He probably stole my cane.”

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