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December 21, 2014 / 29 Kislev, 5775
 
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Too Long Without A Rav


Tales of the Gaonim-logo

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.

“Do you consider the town of Mohlev inferior or is it below your dignity to become a rav there?” the surprised delegation asked.

“On the contrary,” replied the gaon. “Mohlev is a greater town than Slutsk, and it would indeed be an honor to occupy the chair which the Gaon, Malbim had occupied in your town for many years. But, unfortunately, it has been many years since he is gone, and no rav has occupied the seat since.

This is similar to a widow who has not remarried for many years. After a while she gets used to living alone and she will not respect or care for another man. Mohlev has been so long without a rav that they would not know how to honor and respect a new one.”

Helping Others

When the first wife of the Gaon Reb Yosef Ber died, he took another wife who had eight children from her first husband. The gaon found it very difficult to support so large a family, but he suffered in silence, never complaining.

Once, one of his relatives asked him why he had married a woman with so large family.

He answered, “I have fulfilled the mitzvah of freeing an agunah, a deserted woman.”

“Freeing an agunah?” asked the astonished relative. “She is no agunah. Her husband died and what has that to do with you? Why did you have to marry her?”

“She wasn’t an agunah in the true sense,” replied the gaon. But if I hadn’t married her she would have felt deserted, for who would have taken a woman with eight children?”

The Charity Collector Gives Charity

Once, a charity collector for one of the yeshivos, known as a meshulach, came to the Reb Yosef Ber on an Erev Shabbos. As it was nearing evening, the gaon invited him to spend the Shabbos with him.

“Before you change your clothes for Shabbos, will you please loan me five pennies?” Reb Yosef Ber asked the meshulach.

The guest didn’t hesitate a minute. He took out five pennies and gave them to the gaon. Saturday night, after Havdalah, the gaon took out the same five pennies and returned them to his guest.

The yeshiva collector was astonished at the gaon’s behavior. “If the master will excuse my impudence, I would like to ask him a question,” said the meshulach.

“You may ask,” replied the gaon.

“Why did you borrow five pennies from me Erev Shabbos, and now after Shabbos return the exact pennies?” the meshulach inquired.

“It’s simple,” replied the gaon. “You are always traveling around the country, from town to town and from city to city, always borrowing, begging and pleading for money for the yeshiva. You are constantly urging people to give charity, and you are instrumental in providing them with great mitzvos. But you, however, never have the opportunity of gemilas chesed, helping others by loans or charity. Therefore, I wanted you to also have the mitzvah of gemilas chesed, of loaning me money which you so kindly did Erev Shabbos.”

His Occupation

Once a young man entered his study. He was a former disciple of his, having studied under him when he was the Rosh Yeshiva of Volozhin.

Reb Yosef Ber welcomed the pupil with open arms and invited him to have dinner with him. After a while the gaon turned to his former pupil and asked him, “What are you doing now?”

“Thank G-d,” replied the erstwhile student, “I have become a merchant and am very successful. I have made a lot of money during the past few years.”

The gaon listened attentively and he asked him, “What are you now doing?”

The student stopped talking momentarily and he thought that perhaps the gaon did not hear his reply. He again repeated, “Thank G-d, I have become a very successful merchant and I have made a lot of money.”

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“I’ll pay you whether you cure her or kill her,” shouted the loyal husband.

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Now let me ask you, what would happen to an infantryman if he deserted his regiment and went to serve in the cavalry? He would be court-martialed, wouldn’t he?”

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Pressing close to the cage, the Ibn Ezra shouted the words, “Shema Yisrael…”

“You can have your choice,” said the wise king. “You can choose to take this gold, 100 pieces each, or I can give you each three pieces of advice.”

“It isn’t the work,” said Eliezer. “I want to learn our holy Torah.”

More Articles from Rabbi Sholom Klass
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The man was overjoyed to see his benefactor and gave them food and water besides shelter and safety.

Tales-of-The-Midrash-logo

Because of this I wandered about and found friends in similar situations who were also unhappy and I began to hang out with them.

Time passed and Zemira gave birth to a son but not even this could awaken Avinadav from his melancholy.

Yonadav was greatly impressed at the vast sums of money the young man had in his possessions.

“I do nothing worthwhile,” he modestly replied and refused to discuss any of his deeds. For the man was a very modest and humble person.

While he slept, he dreamed of Eliyahu HaNavi, who was trying to awaken him from his sleep.

“I’ll pay you whether you cure her or kill her,” shouted the loyal husband.

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