Are You Saving His Life … Or Your Own?

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It was an ordinary night in Bnei Brak.  In his home, the Sar Hatorah, Rav Chaim shlit”a, gets up for Tikun Chatzos. He recites the tefilos and cries over Galus Hashechinah. 

Suddenly, the door of his home opens. Standing there is a fine Jew, the son of Rav S. He is a fine talmid chacham and a close acquaintance of Rav Chaim’s. 

“My father was just flown to the hospital,” says the son in a trembling whisper. “They put an emergency stent into him and the doctors don’t have a lot of hope. They say that his heart is almost finished.” 

Rav Chaim lets out a deep sigh. He asks a few inquisitive questions and gives a warm blessing. 

After a short period of time, worrisome news comes to the Gadol Hador. He is leaning on his shtender, pauses for a few long minutes from his learning, and davens quietly. 

Another night, the sound of sirens pierces the chilly air. A mobile intensive care unit screeches to a stop under the apartment building of Rav S. The paramedics shoot up the stairwell and the neighbors say Tehillim. They are taking Rav S. another time, may Hashem protect him… 

Rav Chaim simply can’t keep silent any longer. He hears the news, closes his eyes above the Gemara, utters a tefilah for his refuah, and immediately decides to take action. 

Once upon a time, Rav S. would come to Rav Chaim’s home every week, and when he came, the little home would stop in its tracks. More seforim would be opened on the table, and Rav Chaim together with Rav S. would delight in Torah discussion. 

Afterward, Rav S would receive a stack of precious manuscripts from Rav Chaim shlita, and turn them into the seforim of the Gedol Hador. 

But now, Rav Chaim’s trusted and faithful companion is drowning in terrible debts that got out of control. “It was not his fault,” Rav Chaim stated in his characteristically simple and terse language. And these debts are literally killing him. 

“Due to the din of hatalas nefashos, we must act,” says Rav Chaim to his son Rav Yitzchak Shaul. 

Although Rav Chaim carries all of Klal Yisrael in his heart, it is not his way to take the initiative in calling gatherings and organizing projects. But it is a different story here, and Rav Chaim sees himself personally obligated to shake the world. 

Last Friday, Rav Chaim called his brother-in-law Harav Hagaon Yitzchak Zilberstein shlita, and requested that the rabbis of Vaad Harabbanim should come and bring his close friend into the ever-expanding ranks of those who receive assistance. Together, they organized an emergency assembly that was photographed and videoed. In this assembly, Rav Chaim requests from the Jewish community at large to save the life of a great Talmid Chacham. 

“It is a great mitzvah to help our friend Hagaon R…. shlita who is an eminent talmid chacham, and is as full of debts as a pomegranate is full of seeds, and this is due to no fault of his own. Lately he had a heart attack and several illnesses, rachmana litzlan.

 This is real Hatzalas Nefashos, and the mitzvah of supporting a talmid chacham is the greatest of all tzedakos. The more you give, the more Heaven will give you. All the donors will be blessed with children, long life, and abundant parnassah, and everything good, forever. And they will merit having a simcha soon in their homes.” 

R’ Chaim Kanievsky 

When it comes to giving tzedaka, we sometimes make the mistake of seeing ourselves as fortunate, and the receivers of our charity as being lucky to be helped. In reality, in the spiritual world which transcends this one, we gain far more from the mitzvah than the one who winds up with the money. This is more apparent when the mitzvah of giving tzedaka also comes with such an elaborate bracha. Now the reader must ask themselves, if they join the Rav and give to this cause … Whose life are you really saving?

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