Interesting facts and stories about our Gedolim

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    Once Rav Shach was trying to encourage a non religious heart surgeon, to become religious.

    He asked the surgeon as follows. How often do you buy yourself a brand new car? The doctor answered, ” every 2 years I upgrade to a more luxurious car”. Rav Shach then asked, “would you ever change the heart that you you have now to a diffrent heart?

    The surgeon answered, “of course not! Even the man made hearts don’t come close to the “natural” heart”.

    Rav shach smiled and said, ” no matter how many cars are made, every 2 years a better car comes out. But whenever the top heart surgeon cant come close to hashems heart.


    on the ball

    Rav Shach purportedly said to a generous Torah benefactor “For your support of Torah, it’s possible you have greater Olom Haba than me…but as a Torah learner I definitely have greater Olom Hazeh than you..”

    V’dok Haytayv Ki Omok Hu.


    R aharon kotler was fond of saying a similar line- he would say of balabatim- they think they get oilam hazeh and we’ll get oilam habah- buts its a ta’os. really, we get both!


    Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel would often recount, in vivid detail, a story that occured when he slept in the room of Rav Leizer Yudel Finkel’s house where the sefarim were kept. One morning, Rav Leizer Yudel came into the room real early, thinking that Rav Nosson Tzvi was sleeping. He was really awake, but he pretended to be asleep so he could watch how Rav Leizer Yudel began his day.

    What he saw remained for him the rest of his life: Rav Leizer Yudel stretched out his hand and embraced the entire shas, and then went from one volume to the next kissing each one individaully. Rav Nosson Tzvi would say that he learned how to love the Torah from this incident.

    Taken from the book about Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel.


    When people rose out of respect for Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and sang, “Yamim al yemai melech tosif,’ he would say, “I don’t know why I must suffer the bitter punishment of being honored in public.”

    One time, as he entered a wedding hall, he was surrounded by scores of bnei Torah who began to sing “Yomim al yemai melech.” Quickly, he grabbed the chasan and the mechutanim and pulled them into the center of the circle, chanting all along, “Chasan domeh le’melech,” “A bridegroom is like a king.”)


    The story is told of a woman who was married for sixteen years and had not been blessed with children. Pain and loneliness were her daily companions. She begged her father, a great tzaddik, and her husband, an illustrioustalmid chochom, to daven along with her, but the wait continued.

    The housewife was upset and burst into tears. She hurried into the privacy of her home and gave vent to her distress there, weeping in solitude. Then she went and engaged in the long process all over again, this time hanging her laundry to dry in a neighboring courtyard.

    One year later, a son was born.


    A couple that had been married for fifteen years without being blessed by children, decided to divorce, despite their harmonious marriage. Shortly after the get was completed, the woman discovered she was pregnant. The joyous news had a very sad side; the husband was a Kohen and was forbidden to remarry his former wife. Their pain and heartbreak knew no bounds.

    The husband poured out his pain to Rav Chaim Kanievesky, who told him that he couldn’t see any way that he could remarry his former wife, but he suggested that he should consult with his father in-law, Hagaon, Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv.

    The man went to R’ Elyashiv and repeated his tale of woe. R’ Elyashiv told him with great pain that it’s definitely forbidden for a kohain to remarry his former wife. “The only thing I can tell you is that you should go to the Kosel Hamaravi, and daven to Hashem that he should save you.”

    The kohain regarded R’ Elyashiv’s words as a direct instruction, and immediately upon leaving R’ Elyashiv’s house, went straight to the Kosel. When he reached the Kosel, he approached the stones and poured out his heart without restraint. After davening for a lengthy period of time, the kohein felt a hand on his back. He turned around and saw an avreich talmid chacham, who inquired what had happened to him. The kohen repeated his painful story, and the stranger asked him, “Do you have a father?” The kohen didn’t understand the point of the question, but he answered that of course he had a father. His father was very old and was living in a nursing home in America, and barely communicated with those around him.

    “In my opinion, you should fly to America, and tell your father what happened to you,” said the man and he turned to leave. The kohein tried to explain to him again that his father’s condition made it almost impossible to communicate with him at all. There was no reason that he should make such a great effort to fly to the States to tell his elderly father the story. However, the stranger brushed off his words and turned to go.

    The kohein eventually decided to heed this man’s words. He reasoned that if Rav Elyashiv told him to go to the Kosel to daven, and if this stranger approached him while he was davening and advised him to fly to America, maybe it was worthwhile for him to go. He arranged a flight, and a day and half later, he was already at his father’s side, in the nursing home.

    The medical staff had informed the son when he first arrived that his father had not uttered a word for many months, and that he shouldn’t expect his father to speak to him. The kohein began his story, and his father didn’t respond, but he seemed to be listening to what his son was saying. As the son continued his story, he began crying, and couldn’t stop. The unbelievable then occurred; his father began speaking and said clearly that he was not his biological son, but was adopted after the Holocaust; he did not have the status of a kohen, and there was no reason that he couldn’t remarry his former wife



    A frum Jew in New Jersey was involved in a car accident in which he killed an elderly non-Jewish fellow. The driver was exonerated and the court said it was not his fault.

    Still, he was troubled by the fact that he had killed a person. He could not sleep at night because of it. He wanted to know what he could do. So he sent a letter to Rav Chaim Kanievsky describing the situation and asking what he could do.

    Rav Kanievsky sent back a one word response: “Amalek”.

    He had no idea what that meant, and he continued to be troubled by what had happened.

    Eventually he decided to move. When looking for a new house, the seller of one told him that they wanted to get rid of it, because they were inheritors. their father had been killed in a car accident.

    He then discovered that the father who had been killed was the one who had been involved in the accident with him. He then went through the house and discovered in the basement a box of pictures.

    In the box were old pictures of this man as a young man in a Nazi SS uniform standing next to Adolph Hitler. He also found a list of names of people this person had killed when he was a Nazi officer.

    He now understood what Rav Kanievsky had said. He had told him he could be calm, because he had killed a card-carrying member of Amalek!


    When he was an elderly widower, Rabbi Eliyahu Lopian (“Lev Eliyahu,” 1876-1970) was a guest for dinner at the home of a certain couple. At the end of the meal, the couple had to excuse themselves for something that required them to leave the rabbi alone for several minutes. When they came back, the couple was astonished to find that the venerable and humble rabbi had, quietly and without any fanfare, washed and dried all the dishes.


    Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetsky was famed within his lifetime (1891-1986) for being a tzadik (one who fulfills all of the Torah). Three stories about him involve his saintliness in marriage.

    A few years after his first wife passed away, Reb Yaakov (as he is affectionately called) felt ready to re-marry. He was about sixty. Reb Yaakov was Lithuanian and followed the customs of Lithuanian Jewry. His second wife was Polish and followed the customs of her section of Poland. Reb Yaakov, also, had a private custom of never eating dairy on Fridays. He said he had no idea why, but not eating milchigs (dairy foods) Fridays was a custom in his father’s family. He was confident that it had a holy basis and he observed it uncompromisingly.

    He married his second wife shortly before the holiday of Shevuos. It is customary to eat dairy on Shevuos. As it turned out, Shevuos that year came out on Friday. His wife’s custom for the first day of Shevuos was to prepare a lavish dairy kiddush, and then serve a traditional meat meal after the kiddush. They were married such a short time that they couldn’t have possibly learned all of each other’s customs. The rebitzen thought that she would please her husband by preparing a generous dairy kiddush featuring that Shevuos favorite: cheesecake! Milchigs on a Friday!

    Rabbi Kaminetsky came home from synagogue with a gathering of guests, all yeshiva scholars. When he walked in, his bride was proud as a peacock. She honored yom tov as if for a king. The house was nearly wall-papered in cheesecake! She had evidently spent enormous time and care, buying, baking and preparing a royal spread. It was obvious that her intentions had been extremely selfless and noble. Inside himself, he was aghast. While he knew he had to express delighted and appreciative surprise to his rebitzen, he was in a real dilemma. He had a vow never to eat dairy on Friday. He also had a vow to keep a wife happy. Not eating the milchigs would break her heart. Eating, and breaking the vow to never eat dairy on Friday, was not an option.

    She said that she had to go into the kitchen to make some last minute arrangements. This gave him a moment to think. He turned to the three among his guests who were the greatest scholars. He explained the dilemma. “You three are Torah scholars. You can form a bais din [court]. You will do ‘hataras nedarim’ [the Torah court procedure for canceling vows, which may only be done under certain conditions – fortunately this case contained an allowable condition – ask your local orthodox rabbi if you have practical questions]. They finished the vow-canceling ceremony just in time. He ate his wife’s cheesecake.

    Story number two about Reb Yaakov tells of him coming to a dinner sponsored by a major Torah organization. He was with Rabbi Shnayer Kotler, late Rosh HaYeshiva of the prominent Lakewood Yeshiva. Appreciate that BOTH WERE EXCEPTIONALLY HUMBLE MEN.

    Both of these distinguished Torah giants were about to come in the main entrance of the banquet hall. Reb Shnayer said, “Let us not go in this way. I know of a back entrance. If we come in this way, everyone will stand up to give us honor. Let us not impose on an entire crowd.”

    To his astonishment, Reb Yaakov said insistently, and surprisingly out of character, “Let us enter specifically through this main door.”

    “But, why?” said Reb Shnayer, in amazement at his friend who was world-famous for humility.

    “Our wives are in there,” Reb Yaakov replied. “When the entire crowd stands, this gives honor to our wives.”

    Once Reb Yaakov, who lived in Monsey, was in New York City for a simcha. A young man from Monsey was asked to give the tzadik a ride home. He gladly agreed and eagerly introduced himself to the Rosh Yeshiva as his ride. Reb Yaakov said that he first had to inspect the car before he could accept the ride. He got into the back seat and sat for a moment. He then came out of the car and said he would accept the ride. The reason he went into the car first was to make sure the seat would be comfortable for HIS WIFE.

    from Rabbi Forsythe shalom bayis website

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