Tales of the Misnagdim

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    Chaim Eliezer

    Someone should publish a volume of stories about the great Livisher gedolim called “Tales of the Misnagdim.” No flashy miracles here–just utter devotion to limud Torah and an almost pathological sense of honesty. For example, when R. Aharon Kotler used to take an almost empty bus between Brooklyn and Lakewood, he’d pay for an extra seat. That way if he stretched out to take a nap, he wouldn’t be cheating the bus company.


    Rav Aharon Kotler was certainly no misnagid.


    “Rav Aharon Kotler was certainly no misnagid.

    He was certainly a novel change from the old style

    .He told a relative who asked him if it was permitted (in 1946) to marry someone from a chassidish background,that the cherem today is battul

    On the other hand when the satmar rav told someone “you’ll never be a chussid”He told the bachur “say Amen”

    The little I know

    There are dozens of biographical publications about the Litvishe gedolim. The stories about them are no less inspiring than of Chassidishe, Sefardishe, or other gedolim. Is this about wanting a specific title that refers to “misnagdim”, a rather derogatory, oppositional label?

    Avi K

    Chaim Eliezer, maybe the hooligans who fly El Al will earn from this. BTW, once the Chafetz Chaim had to send a letter by messenger. He bought a stamp and ripped it up so as not to cause the Polish post office a loss.

    Avi K

    What about Yekke tales? I will start (even though I am only a quasi-Yekke – my father’s father’s parents were from Czernowitz). I was offered NIS180 shekels off my first purchase if I took a certain supermarket chain’s credit card. I took the card and my first purchase came to NIS180.01 which is the same for charging purposes as $180.00. The cashier was amazed. “How did you do that?” .


    Avi K.
    Do you have a good source for that story about the Chafetz Chaim? I have a feeling it never happened. It makes no sense.
    Tearing up a stamp when sending a letter by messenger is not a chumra in gezel, it is pure bal tashchis. If you haven’t used the service, there is no need to pay for it. R’ Aharon Kotler in the OP was worried that the bus would fill up while he was asleep and lose a paying passenger due to his occupying two seats, but in the Chafetz Chaim story there is no loss involved.
    If he had intended to send a letter but then changed his mind, would he have torn up a stamp too? After all, why should the post office lose out just because he changed his mind!
    (It is possible that the government at the time had a law forbidding the sending of letters by private messengers, but I doubt it.)


    I too heard the story long ago about the Chofetz Chaim tearing a stamp for every letter he sent with someone rather than the post office.


    There should be almost endless stories of Misnagdim

    However A chassidish Rebbe who was relating ‘Mofes stories’ about his forebears to R’Berel .R’Berel told the Rebbe
    “we also have more than than enough such stories , But[bei unz]For us we consider it a step down , for the velt saying stories about us”


    So yeshivesh…. Lets ”Kler”…

    Really now you didn’t find any better stories of The Chafetz Chaim and R’ Ahron Kotler zt”l ?!

    Avi K

    Chad, that is a well-known story. Obviously, it was not really necessary. BTW, when two bachurs from Radin were accused of spying for the Germans during WW1 (then the German Army was very good to the Jews and even appointed an Orthodox rabbi as the liaison) the CC testified and their non-Jewish lawyer told some stories about his honesty. One of the judges asked if he believed all of them. He replied “No. But they don’t tell such stories about you or me”.


    Avi, The fact that it’s well known doesn’t make it true. If it is not really necessary then it is bal tashchis. You are right that some great people grow to such proportions that legends spring up about them that aren’t always accurate. But at least they are usually the kind of story that if it were true, would reflect an inspiring character trait that the person in question actually truly had, rather than portraying them as silly enough to believe that an unnecessary act of bal tashchis is really a praisworthy chumra!

    on the ball

    OP you wrote:

    “Someone should publish a volume of stories about the great Livisher gedolim called “Tales of the Misnagdim.” No flashy miracles here–just utter devotion to limud Torah and an almost pathological sense of honesty.”

    The insinuation here regardng Chasidish Gedolim, besides for being offensive, is totally untrue.

    As a aside , for me the gadlus in your story about R’ Aharon ZT’L is more the fact that he was happy to take public transport between Brooklyn and Lakewood.

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