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Stories of Yom Kippur


Tales of the Gaonim-logo

On Erev Yom Kippur, the Gaon Rav Atshal of Frankfurt (Tifereth Avraham) would usually permit the eating of every doubtful fowl, which was brought before him to decide. He would make all the doubtful cases kosher.

His Beth Din and his disciples began question his actions.

The gaon replied: “He who makes a kosher fowl treif, incurs the wrath of his fellow man (bein adam l’chavairo), while he who make treif fowl kosher incurs the wrath of G-d (bein adam l’makom). We all know that the sin between man and G-d on the holiday of Yom Kippur will be forgiven but the sins between man and his fellow man, the holiday of Yom Kippur cannot help. Therefore, we have to very careful of our fellow man and not incur his wrath or cause him to lose money, especially before Yom Kippur.”

The Power of Saying Kaddish

The following strange experience is brought down in the sefer Ish Al Hachoma, written by Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld’s grandson who heard it from the rav himself.

In the city of Pressburg there lived a wealthy woman whose husband owned a large estate. Every year, before the High Holy Days the woman would come to the Yeshiva Ksav Sofer and make a large donation requesting that the yeshiva appoint a student to say Kaddish for the orphaned souls who left no heirs. This was also to include the many children who left the religion and did not say Kaddish for their parents. The administration gladly complied.

After a while the woman’s husband died and without his guiding hand the business failed and the creditors took away all of the woman’s possessions. Out of desperation she had to seek employment to support her two daughters. Her daughters were of marriageable age and she needed money to make the wedding and provide for a dowry. But alas she had none, for she barely eked out a living, let alone had any money to spare.

She accepted her bitter lot quietly as she struggled to meet the daily living expenses. But now the holidays were approaching and what aggravated her most was that she could not give any money to the yeshiva, for them to say Kaddish for the orphaned souls.

With a bitter heart she approached the administration, explaining her predicament and pleading with them that they continue the Kaddish even though she couldn’t pay them at the present time. “Somehow, G-d will help and I will be able to give you the money like I used to,” she cried.

The administrators were amazed at the sincerity and piety of this woman and they assured her that Kaddish would continue to be said. With a light heart and a smile on her face the woman thanked them. It appeared as if all her worries were now gone. Forgotten was the fact that she needed a large sum of money to marry off her two daughters and how hard she had to struggle to earn the daily bread. As she walked out of the yeshiva she looked up at the Heavens and exclaimed, “G-d, I did my part, now its Your turn, for You are the Father of orphans and the Protector of poor widows. I have no doubt that You will not let us down!”

Walking out of the yeshiva she suddenly came face to face with an elderly man, with a large snow-white beard, who made a very impressive appearance.

“Pardon me,” he said, as he stopped the poor woman. “Are you the widow of the very wealthy man who died recently?”

“Yes,” she replied, wondering who this man could be.

“I owed your husband money,” he said as he questioned her about her present circumstances.

The woman began to cry as she described her extreme poverty. She explained that creditors had taken how all the money her husband left her away and she didn’t know how she would secure the dowry for her two daughters.

“How much do you need for the dowry and to make the wedding?” he asked.

The woman named a figure in the thousands. The man immediately took out his checkbook and wrote out a check for that sum of money and told the woman to cash it the following morning in the local bank.

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“When I asked why she cried so much she said she came from a very religious home and feared she would be sold to a non-Jew and forced to convert.

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