From the remarkable Beis Midrash in the town of Brodi came forth a dazzling number of Talmudic chachamim (scholars), many of whom went forth to greatness in the annals of Israel. One of them was Rav Chaim Tzanzer.
The great sage Don Yitzchak Abarbanel (1437-1508) would never stop lauding the brilliance and sagacity of his fellow Jews to King Alfonso V of Portugal. Abarbanel was the King’s treasurer and he was respected and loved by the monarch.
The Baal Shem Tov had two grandsons, Rav Moshe Chaim Ephraim and Reb Baruch. Both were pious and well educated in Torah, yet, Rav Moshe lived a frugal and poor life while his brother, Reb Baruch, became very wealthy.
“Sin between man and G-d, Yom Kippur can forgive, but the sins between man and his fellow man, Yom Kippur cannot forgive until his fellow man forgives and he makes amends (Yomah 85b).
Rav Eliyahu Chaim Maisel of Lodz was a great scholar and also had a very sharp mind. Because of his own cleverness, he once saved an innocent Jew from an unjust punishment.
Galicia was able to boast of having three giants of the Chassidic movement who lived at the same period of time. They were Rav Meir of Premishlan, Rav Tzvi Hirsh of Rimenov and Rav Naftali of Ropshitz. The latter, especially, was famous for the sharpness of his mind.
One of the great Chassidic rabbis was the saintly Reb Mordechai of Nashchiz. He used to eat only a loaf of bread the whole week, and added herring on Shabbos — in honor of the day.
It is very easy to catch a thief when one has clues and evidence. It is a far different matter, however, when one must attempt to find the guilty party through his own wits alone. It is then that we must have a truly wise man- one as wise as, say Shlomo HaMelech.
One of the great chassidic rebbes was the saintly Rav Mordechai of Nashchiz. He used to eat only a loaf of bread the whole week, and added herring on Shabbos — in honor of the day.
Once when there was a drought in Eretz Yisrael, the rabbanim approached Rabi Yochanan Ben Zakkai. “Rebbe,” they said, “please pray to Hashem that He send rain before the people perish from thirst and hunger.”
Chazal say that on the New Year, the entire amount of a man’s sustenance is fixed, except for what he spends on Shabbos, Yomim Tovim, Rosh Chodesh and sichar limud. In these cases, if one spends more one receives more; if one spends less, one receives less.
Our sages teach us: “Great is charity and great is its reward.” He who gives charity to the poor, his prayers will be answered; a measure for a measure - midda k’neged midda. He heard the cries of the poor so will G-d hear his prayers when he cries.
There are certain mitzvos that all civilized people can understand and appreciate. One such mitzvah is that of honoring one’s parents. While there are certain specific particulars that are distinctly Jewish, the general concept is one accepted by non-Jews as well. Indeed, when the Talmud sought to find an example of one who observed this mitzvah in its proper form, it selected a non-Jew by the name of Dama ben Nesina.
Modesty, both in conduct to people and in dress and speech has always been a deeply praised virtue — especially for Jewish women. In Yerushalayim there once lived a woman named Kimchis, who symbolized this virtue and was blessed for it.
The Gaon, Rav Chaim of Volozhin, one of the most beloved students of the Vilna Gaon, was known to be a genius even as a child.
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.
Reb Raphael of Barshad was a humble and pious man, known as a tzaddik who never uttered a bad word against anyone.
The Gaon Reb Yosef Ber Soleveitchik avoided criticizing anyone. When once he did criticize a person he felt so bad about it that he later asked for his forgiveness.
Galicia was able to boast of having three giants of the chassidic movement who lived at the same period of time. They were Rav Meir of Parmishlon, Rav Tzvi Hirsh of Riminov and Rav Naftali of Ropshitz. The latter, especially, was famous for the sharpness of his mind.
The Baal Shem Tov had two grandsons, Reb Moshe Chaim Ephraim and Reb Baruch. While both were pious and well educated in Torah, Reb Moshe lived a frugal and poor life while his brother, Reb Baruch, became very wealthy.
The Maharil lived during the period of the Hussite wars, which brought misery upon the Jews of the Rhine, Thuringia and Bavaria. The Jews appealed to the Gaon to intercede with G-d for them. The mercenary soldiers entered the Jewish homes at will and took everything they could lay their hands on. Should anyone protest, they would be shot on the spot.
The following story is told about the Vilna Gaon who was called upon to decide a case of a bill that was due a doctor.
It was the night of Shavuos, the anniversary of the giving of the Torah, and the Jews in Jerusalem adhered to the custom of remaining up all night and studying the Torah. Not all, however, could do so, and as the night wore on, a few got up to go home.
The Gaon Yosef Ber Solovetichik, while chief rabbi of Slutsk, was in poor ﬁnancial straits. It was a poor community, and there was very little money for the rabbi. Once, a delegation from Mohlev arrived to offer the gaon the position of chief rabbi of Mohlev, which was a larger and wealthier town. The gaon, however, refused the offer.
Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev would use the Yomim Tovim as a forum for his continued dialogue with the Holy One blessed be He and as opportunities to demonstrate to the Almighty that His children, Israel, were deserving of both forgiveness and a better fate.