A gadol on his own

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  • #618796

    M
    Participant

    When I saw that R’ Solomon’s shlita’s wife was nifter, I was wondering what happens usually after a gadol’s wife passes away. Specifically, do these rabbonim tend to then start shopping, cooking, etc for themselves? or do their children usually then take care of them? Does the yeshiva send a bachur to help them out? I’m sure this is not an unusual event and imagine that some CR readers might have some experience or stories about this.

    Hope you don’t mind but I didn’t feel the title expressed the same level of respect as the question

    #1197916

    M
    Participant

    I like the change in title — thank you!!

    #1197917

    There no single answer for every gadol.

    #1197918

    every gadol has at least 1 gabai. Now either this gabai will also do the shopping etc… or another person will get the zchus to serve the tzaddik with doing the home needed errands

    #1197919

    Geordie613
    Participant

    It’s a good question, and obviously it depends on the different circumstances of each godol.

    Rav Chaim Kanievsky’s daughter, Rebbetzin Kolodetzky, has taken over domestic duties in their house.

    When the Gateshead Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Leib Gurwicz’s first wife was nifter, a bochur slept in the house with the Rosh Yeshiva. I’m not sure if he had any other duties.

    #1197920

    Joseph
    Participant

    Was Rebbetzin Kanievsky doing the shopping in the first place?

    #1197921

    M
    Participant

    DaasYochid — of course each is different. I am curious about some of the common arrangements, such as that which Mashiach Agent mentioned. I am curious whether some gedolim in these situations end up shopping and cooking, etc for themselves. Some CR readers might have some nice stories they could share.

    #1197922

    Geordie613
    Participant

    Joseph, I don’t know. I think the prices at the second place were better.

    But seriously, why not? She was not disabled or ill as far as I know. I’ve seen great rebbetzins shopping. Others, have children in town who do it for them. I know the Salamons have at least 2 daughters in Lakewood, so I imagine they or the grandchildren would/do help out.

    #1197923

    golfer
    Participant

    Why is it any of our business what goes into the day to day running of a gadol’s household?

    The gadol did not sign up to be a rock star. If we respect him as a person, we can respect his privacy.

    And do we really need to know if he puts the chrain on top of his gefilte fish? or next to it? Now you want to know who picked it up at the grocery?

    Passt nisht.

    #1197924

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Why is it any of our business what goes into the day to day running of a gadol’s household?

    The gadol did not sign up to be a rock star. If we respect him as a person, we can respect his privacy.

    You should learn Gemeroah Brachot

    #1197925

    nishtdayngesheft
    Participant

    “You should learn Gemeroah Brachot “

    Maseches Berachos is about 65 blatt. Perhaps you can be a tad more specific?

    #1197926

    M
    Participant

    I’m guessing that zahavasdad was referring to the story told on 62a, in which R’ Kahana hid under the bed of Rav… and justified his behavior by stating that this too is Torah — ???? ??? ?????? ??? ????. I think this story is well known enough that citing just the mesechta makes the point…

    #1197927

    nishtdayngesheft
    Participant

    M,

    Actually, he should cite the story with R Kahana. That would make more sense. There are a lot of things to learn from in the masechta.

    But, I don’t understand what the big questions is. Why do you think it is any different from any other person who loses a spouse?

    #1197928

    Because when you love someone, respect them or revere them, you want to know they are taken care of.

    #1197929

    nishtdayngesheft
    Participant

    Also,

    The Rebbitzen was not well for quite a while yet. I guess that whatever arrangements were in place until this time will continue for the most part.

    The Mashgiach should have a refuah shelaimah.

    #1197930

    iacisrmma
    Participant

    Someone once asked Rav Pam the following: I help my wife with the cooking. My friend says that it is not proper as that is the wife’s role. Is he correct? Rav Pam answered it’s possible. However, all the years my wife worked in the public school system I made the potato kugel for Shabbos.

    #1197931

    M
    Participant

    “Why do you think it is any different from any other person who loses a spouse?” I think in many “regular” families, even the husband has some experience shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc, and could pick it up when necessary. But I have been in the homes of several gedolim who, because of their unusual focus on learning and avodas haklal, would have absolutely zero idea of what to do in a kitchen. Any they certainly haven’t gone to the supermarket to shop, or maybe it’s been 50 years since they have. For these people, starting from basically zero at age 70+ would be substantially more difficult than for you or me.

    On further thought, I would think that even my own father, from a different generation, would also have no idea of what to do in a kitchen. I’m not sure what he would do without my mother shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc… But I guess you’re right, I guess this does come up all the time for regular people too. Perhaps the additional complications of kavod harov make this sound like a trickier problem for a gadol than for regular people.

    I like the story of Rav Pam, and it certainly says alot about him. But I’m sure that there are many gedolim that feel much less comfortable in their kitchens than Rav Pam felt in his…. I’m trying to picture R’ Chaim making a chicken soup or cholent…

    #1197932

    Lilmod Ulelamaid
    Participant

    ” I’m trying to picture R’ Chaim making a chicken soup or cholent…”

    In the biography of Rebbetzin Kanievsky Zatsal, it mentions that someone once asked her if Rav Chaim, YBD”L ever smokes. She said, “Of course not. 1. It’s unhealthy. 2. It would be really dangerous for him to smoke. He would put the cigarette down, and get involved in learning…”

    I can only imagine what would happy if he tried making a chicken soup….The Chulent would be less problematic, I suppose.

    #1197933

    iacisrmma
    Participant

    R’ Shimshon Sherer once accompanied his father R’ Moshe Sherer A”H to see R’ Shach TZATZAL. R’ Shach asked R’ Shimshon if he had breakfast and he answered no. R’ Shach went to the kitchen to fry him eggs. R’ Shimshon protested and R’ Shach said “You don’t think I know how to cook eggs”?

    #1197934

    Lightbrite
    Participant

    Don’t some remarry?

    #1197935

    Lilmod Ulelamaid
    Participant

    Some do and some don’t. It probably depends on both the person and his age, as it does with everyone.

    Rav Henoch Leibowitz, the Rosh Yeshiva of Chofetz Chaim, zatsal remarried. Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky, Zatsal remarried, but I don’t know how old he was when his first wife was nifter. Rav Elyashiv, Zatsal didn’t.

    I wonder how many men this age get remarried in general. I would imagine that most don’t. And for a Gadol it’s probably harder than it is for most people because he needs someone on his level.

    #1197936

    Joseph
    Participant

    Many gedolim and rabbonim, even having already reached older years when they lost their rebbetzin, remarried to a younger woman capable of child bearing in order so they could fulfill the mitzvah of Pru U’rvu.

    #1197937

    Lilmod Ulelamaid
    Participant

    Not when they were in their 70’s or 80’s. Certainly not most or many.

    #1197938

    WinnieThePooh
    Participant

    Mishpacha had a feature about R’ Chaim Kanievsky. To show how he was kulo Torah, a family member (I think it was a daughter) told the following story:

    Once the Rebbitzin was not feeling well. R’ Chaim asked if he could do something for her. She asked for a hot tea. After waiting awhile, she asked if it was ready. Turns out, as it was the first time making tea, he did not light the fire under the kettle. She then explained to him in more detail how to make a tea. He did it, and when bringing it to her, dropped the cup. That was the last time she asked for his help in domestic matters.

    For R’ Chaim, it is Torah only. For other gedolim, it may be different, and it may be different at different times in their lives. When their whole life revolves around learning or helping the klal, they don’t have time for other matters, and it is only appropriate for others to fill those needs- whether a family member or gabai. Imagine the president cooking his own dinner or going grocery shopping!

    #1197939

    Lilmod Ulelamaid
    Participant

    “For other gedolim, it may be different, and it may be different at different times in their lives.”

    That’s a very important point, WTP. Thank you for mentioning it. If someone hears that Gadol A was such a masmid that he never helped in the house, that shouldn’t lead them to think that Gadol B was not a masmid because he helped his wife. And of course vice versa as well -they shouldn’t think less of Gadol B because he didn’t help.

    Each person has his own tafkid and personality and responsibilities, and the same is true of Gedolim as well (although on a different plane than the rest of us).

    #1197940

    Geordie613
    Participant

    I mentioned Rav Leib Gurwicz earlier. A bochur who merited being the ‘hoiz bochur’, told me his best moment was when he came to the yeshiva to tell everyone that the Rosh yeshiva had just got engaged. He remarried to Rebbetzin Isbee from Detroit.

    Also, the Chofetz Chaim famously remarried and had a child, Rebbetzin Zaks at age 70.

    #1197941

    Joseph
    Participant

    Among gedolim who lost their rebbetzin when they were at an older age, many have remarried to a second, younger, rebbetzin capable of child bearing. Not too long ago it wasn’t even too uncommon for older men among the hamon hoam who lost their wife to do the same, to fulfill the mitzvah of Pru U’rvu. I know many folks whose zeida (or elter-zeida) lost their wife in their 60s or so and remarried to their bubbe when she was in her 20s or 30s and had more children.

    #1197942

    shebbesonian
    Participant

    @winniethepooh – That story about R’ Chaim makes no sense. Do you really expect me to believe that somebody who has extensive knowledge of kol hatorah kula would miss the many sources that talk about bishul (and different types of bishul at that)? Not only that, in R’ Chaim’s own sefer (???? ?????) he writes about how to make tea on Shabbos.

    #1197943

    golfer
    Participant

    Here is a true story about a real Gadol that I heard from his son.

    His son said that many, probably most of the stories told about his father are completely untrue.

    This was in response to a question about a hanhaga of his father at the Pesach Seder that I had heard about, specifically with regard to children.

    The Gadol’s son explained that he as well as his sblings had (obviously) been children at his father’s Seder many many times and what I had read about his father was not true.

    Learning about the hanhagos of a Gadol by spending time with him and/or speaking to him is a good thing. Another way we can learn about the hanhagos and opinions of a Gadol is by reading his writings, if he chose to leave such behind, and if we are fortunate to have access to them.

    Discussing a Gadol’s private life in a public forum such as this is disrespectful and inappropriate.

    #1197944

    WinnieThePooh
    Participant

    shebbesonian- I am just repeating the story published in Mishapacha as it was told by a family member, you can decide whether to believe it or not. I repeated it here only because it was already made public by the family. It was meant as an example of a type of gadol who has no shaychus to mundane household matters, even though he obviously understands these issues from a halachic standpoint.

    The lesson behind such a story for us is to appreciate how much a gadol can be totally immersed in Torah.

    #1197945

    Lilmod Ulelamaid
    Participant

    shebbesonian – I hear your kasha, but I don’t think it’s a stira. It’s known that Rav Chaim is kulo Torah. I heard that he wants to make sure that his memory storage is completely free for Torah so he doesn’t remember anything that is not directly connected to Torah. While he is learning the sugya of how to make tea on Shabbos, he knows how to make tea, and when someone asks him a sheilah about making tea, he may know how to make tea, but when it comes to making tea in the practical world, he is focused on learning Torah as he does it and forgets to light the fire. For Rav Chaim, making tea only exists as a halachic/Torah sugya not as a practical thing in the “real world”, aka olam hasheker.

    #1197946

    Lilmod Ulelamaid
    Participant

    Winnie the Pooh: “The lesson behind such a story for us is to appreciate how much a gadol can be totally immersed in Torah.”

    +1!

    #1197947

    Abba_S
    Participant

    Whether any Jewish elderly man remarries is dependent on does he think he can have children, if he doesn’t think he can, then he shouldn’t remarry. Although he can remarry a convert. As far as not being alone, he can either move in with family or have someone sleep over. Please note that I have no close relationship with any of the Gadolim listed in this thread and am just giving my opinion, which is not about any godal at all. If you fall in this category you should ask a Rabbi rather than rely on this forum.

    #1197948

    Lilmod Ulelamaid
    Participant

    There have been Gedolim who remarried even though they and their second wives were too old to have children. Having children is not the only reason for getting married. I have never heard of any source that said that a man who is too old to have children should not remarry. If you do know of such a source, I would be happy to hear what it is.

    But even if there is such a source, there clearly are other opinions as can be seen by the fact that there are Gedolim in such cases who did remarry.

    #1197949

    kapusta
    Participant

    The story as I remember it (based on the book, not the article) was that the Rebbetzin wasn’t feeling well and asked Rav Chaim to make tea. He brought a kettle to the sink and opened a sefer while it was filling up. After a while, the Rebbetzin heard running water and went to the kitchen to find an overflowing sink and Rav Chaim completely immersed in his learning.

    #1197951

    “You don’t think I know how to cook eggs”?

    Once while spending a weekend on the Lowere east side several years ago

    Rav Dovid .

    made for myself grilled cheese for melava malka

    He had a most unusual way of doing it.

    He put it on an open pan on the stove .Put a piece of Cheese on a piece of challah ,and then pressed down on them both with a pot and presto..

    #1197952

    typo Lower East Side

    #1197953

    ???? ??? ?????? ??? ????

    is brought down in a few places

    #1197955

    Lilmod Ulelamaid
    Participant

    ITFT – that’s a good quote. I like that!

    #1197957

    mik5
    Participant

    The original story with Maran HaGaon HaRav HaTzaddik Chaim Kanievsky shlita is off in some of the details; it is more like Kapusta said.

    The rebbetzin was extremely sick; otherwise, she wouldn’t have bothered to ask Reb Chaim to do this.

    Someone asked Reb Chaim if you would play basketball on Shabbos. Reb Chaim asked: Vos is basketball? So the guy told him, “You gotta put the ball in the basket.” And the rav said, “It is much better to put the ball in the basket erev Shabbos.”

    #1197958

    Lilmod Ulelamaid
    Participant

    Mik5 – I loved that story, and I know it is true because I heard it from the guy’s wife (Ayelet the Kosher Komic).

    #1197959

    Abba_S
    Participant

    LU – “There have been Gedolim who remarried even though they and their second wives were too old to have children.”

    This problem has nothing to do with his wife’s ability to have children see Deuteronomy Chapter 23 Statement 2.

    #1197960

    Abba_S, that “Statement” forbids mamzerim from marrying into

    Klal Yisrael. The only explanation I came up with for your post is that

    everyone is a safek mamzer, but we marry because otherwise we couldn’t have children. Once we have children, we shouldn’t marry again because we could be (or marry) a mamzer. Is that what you meant? (I hope not, because I’m pretty sure that’s some high-caliber nonsense I just made up. I also hope you can explain yourself, because many tzaddikim are known to have remarried at an advanced age.)

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