Monday, Jun 17, 2024

My Take on the News

A Holiday Dominated by Torah Learning

On a typical week, I often find it hard to keep within the space constraints of this column while reporting to you on all the events in Eretz Yisroel. On a week such as this one, after a long break that included Pesach, I find it even more challenging than usual. But I will begin on a refreshing note, by telling you about the intensive involvement in Torah learning that we have seen in this country over the past couple of weeks.

Of course, for the Torah world, the past few weeks have been part of bein hazemanim. For the men and youths—especially the latter—who spend their days toiling to learn Torah, this period is a necessary respite from their usual rigorous routines. It is a well-known historical fact that when a group of roshei yeshivos proposed abolishing the bein hazemanim vacation, Rav Shach objected strongly to the idea; he insisted that yeshiva bochurim needed the reprieve in order to continue with their studies. But in spite of the vacation, the botei medrash throughout the country have been bustling throughout this period. Personally, I find it especially enjoyable to make the rounds of various shuls and watch thousands of bochurim and yungeleit immersed in Torah learning even during this period. There are even stipends offered for those who engage in Torah learning in the context of various official frameworks, which is also to the credit of Klal Yisroel.

The Pesach edition of the Israeli Yated Neeman featured a list of shiurim taking place on Chol Hamoed in various shuls throughout the country. On every Chol Hamoed, roshei yeshivos and darshonim visit shuls and botei medrash throughout Israel, from Tifrach and Ofakim in the south to Haifa and Carmiel in the north, to deliver shiurim and shmuessen. Some of the guest speakers are especially prestigious talmidei chachomim who make many appearances over the course of the holiday, such as Rav Dovid Cohen, rosh yeshivas Chevron.

Spiritual Delights

On a personal level, I can tell you that I habitually seek out shiurim that I know will enhance my enjoyment of a Yom Tov. For instance, I particularly enjoyed hearing the shiur delivered by Rav Noam Alon, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Mir Brachfeld and son-in-law of Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel. Listening to his shiur was an experience of pure delight; I was dazzled by the scintillating questions upon which the shiur was built and with the fascinating chiddush that resolved every difficulty he raised. Last Sukkos, I had heard Rav Alon speak in the main shul in Ramat Shlomo; this time, I followed him to a large shul in Neve Yaakov. I could easily dedicate many pages to a description of this enthralling shiur and the atmosphere of meaning and intensity that pervaded the bais medrash throughout his visit.

In my neighborhood of Givat Shaul, I had the privilege of hearing a shiur from Rav Aryeh Shapiro, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Shaarei Shemuos in Bais Chilkiya and grandson of Rav Moshe Shmuel Shapiro. Rav Aryeh has enjoyed fantastic success at the helm of his yeshiva, which was founded in memory of his illustrious grandfather. In the span of a mere few years, the yeshiva has grown to reach an enrollment of over 400 bochurim. I could easily write many pages about this shiur, as well. Following in his grandfather’s footsteps, Rav Aryeh always manages to construct a fantastic presentation based on a single nuance in the wording of Rashi. And like his grandfather before him, he concludes every shiur with a highly creative chiddush that leaves his listeners with plenty of food for thought. In this particular case, he came up with a novel interpretation of the halachic concept of a loan. Of course, Rav Aryeh marshaled various proofs to support his contention, which he also used to resolve several powerful kushyos on various sugyos in Shas.

Kosher Electricity in Beit Shemesh

On the first day of Chol Hamoed, I participated in another remarkable event, this one in the city of Beit Shemesh. There is a shul in Beit Shemesh known as Mimizrach Shemesh, which was founded by Moshe Abutbul, the former mayor of the city, who is currently serving as a member of the Knesset on behalf of the Shas party. When the construction of the shul began, Abutbul visited Rav Chaim Kanievsky and asked him to sign an appeal for donations to help fund the project. Rav Chaim agreed to sign the letter and asked Abutbul to ensure that the shul would use only kosher electricity on Shabbos—in other words, to receive its electric supply on Shabbos from a generator rather than from the electric company.

The common practice in the chareidi community in Israel is to permit the use of electricity generated by the electric company on Shabbos. Even though the company is managed by Jews, and the power it generates might be forbidden on account of the chillul Shabbos involved in its production, it is presumed that there are some people who require an electric supply due to considerations of pikuach nefesh. This makes it permissible for the company to produce electricity for their benefit, and it is therefore permitted for others to benefit from the electricity as well. However, Rav Chaim Kanievsky (and the Chazon Ish before him and others) didn’t particularly approve of this line of reasoning. Instead, Rav Chaim maintained that it is proper for a religious Jew to use a generator on Shabbos. I presume that this is a fairly trivial issue for you in America, since the electric companies in your country are run by non-Jews. In Israel, however, it can be a major concern.

Abutbul took heed of Rav Chaim’s request, and now, a year after the shul was inaugurated, its connection to the Shabbos generator was finally completed. Abutbul related at the event that there had been some debate as to whether the shul should be connected to the neighborhood generator or to a separate generator of its own, and the kehillah had also debated whether the generator should be used for the air conditioning system or only for the lights in the shul. The bottom line, however, is that everything was done in accordance with Rav Chaim’s wishes. The festive occasion was enhanced by a siyum conducted in Rav Chaim’s memory, along with a few hespedim. The speakers included two prominent guests: Rav Yisroel Meir Druk, the rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Tiferes Yisroel, and Rav Yisroel Yaakov Kanievsky, Rav Chaim’s grandson.

All in all, it was an immensely uplifting event. In his capacity as the chairman of the Lobby for Shabbos, Moshe Abutbul distributed awards to three men who have been highly active throughout the country in defending the sanctity of Shabbos. I will undoubtedly write more about this in the future, in the context of a separate article.

Bein Hazemanim with Rav Yitzchok Hacker

There was another important event that took place this Chol Hamoed—a shiur delivered by Rav Yitzchok Hacker, whom I interviewed for the Pesach edition of this newspaper. In fact, when Rav Hacker’s talmidim were informed that he had been interviewed, I received a wave of requests for copies of the article in Hebrew. In any event, one of Rav Hacker’s talmidim contributed to the article by collecting a handful of anecdotes for my benefit, which were published in the form of sidebars. This talmid later revealed to me that the rosh yeshiva would be delivering a shiur at the yeshivas bein hazemanim program in Yeshivas Grodno Beer Yaakov. Yeshivas bein hazemanim programs are common phenomena in Israel; in some neighborhoods, these programs are organized by local askonim, while in other areas the programs are within the purview of the gabbaim of local shuls. On the last day of Chol Hamoed, Rav Hacker traveled from Bnei Brak to Beer Yaakov to deliver a shiur. In advance of his visit, I asked his son, Rav Yosef Shlomo, what his father could be expected to speak about. He informed me that the shiur would delve into an analysis of a complex halachic issue—the use of wine with kedushas sheviis for the arba kosos at the Seder. I realized that I wouldn’t be able to follow all the intricacies of the discussion, but I decided to attend the shiur simply for the sake of the experience. And in retrospect, I still feel that it was completely worthwhile, even if some of the discussion was lost on me. Both the shiur itself and the man who delivered it radiated pure grandeur.

As I watched Rav Hacker speak, I developed a deeper appreciation for the accolades his talmidim had showered on him. I observed his charm, his vast knowledge, his incisive intellect, and his gentle encouragement for the bochurim who attempted to ask questions or suggest resolutions during the shiur. When he caught sight of me, he recognized me immediately and commented, “It wasn’t bad, but I would have made a few subtle corrections.” This was a clear reference to my own lavish praise for him in the context of my article. He asked if I had followed the shiur, and I replied, “I didn’t quite understand the shiur, but I understood what the rosh yeshiva is all about.”

I also told Rav Hacker that I had received regards for him from a man in America who had read the article and remembered learning with him in the Ponovezh yeshiva many years ago. “His name is Rav Pesach Korb,” I said. Rav Hacker’s face lit up when I mentioned the name. “Reb Pesach!” he exclaimed. “Yes! A good friend of mine and a very distinguished man. He has written some very important seforim and has prestigious yichus.” Rav Pesach is a grandson of Rav Chaim Yitzchok Korb, the author of the sefer Nesivos Chaim, who served as a posek in the town of Ponovezh in Lithuania and later as a rov in Lita. He subsequently immigrated to America and served as rosh yeshiva in Beis Medrash l’Torah in Chicago. Reb Pesach himself is the author of a sefer. It is reported that Rav Hacker urged him many years ago to write a second volume, and that he was even supposed to receive a haskomah from Rav Hacker’s illustrious father-in-law, Rav Shmuel Rozovsky.

After the shiur and the minyan for Maariv that followed it, while midnight was rapidly approaching, I was surprised to observe a group of bochurim setting up tables as if they were preparing for an oneg Shabbos. Soon enough, they began a kumzitz along with the rosh yeshiva; refreshments were placed on the tables, and the air was filled with the sound of young voices raised in song, alternating with uplifting divrei Torah.

Smashed Windows and Frightened Passengers

The Kosel Hamaaravi, the last remnant of our Bais Hamikdosh, is another focus of attention on every Yom Tov. On every Chol Hamoed, the Kosel draws huge crowds of visitors. Unfortunately, visiting the Kosel became a very difficult endeavor this Pesach.

It began with the stoning of buses making their way to the Kosel. The images of the smashed bus windows, the stones lying on the seats and floors of the buses, and the frightened passengers crouching on the floor, including old men and young girls, were very painful to behold. Those images caused many to think twice before visiting the Kosel. When the buses began dropping off their passengers at a considerable distance from the Kosel, many potential visitors became even more reluctant to attempt to access the site. MK Yitzchok Pindrus, a resident of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, called on people to visit the Kosel despite the difficulty, explaining that they could still walk to the Kosel via the Arab shuk. However, this announcement came with poor timing, since another set of frightening images flooded the media shortly thereafter—this time showing Arabs hurling rocks at tallis-clad Jewish men making their way through the shuk.

In short, while the Kosel plaza wasn’t exactly empty this Chol Hamoed, it wasn’t nearly bustling with activity to the same extent as in any other year.

Meanwhile, in yet another display of the secular media’s Jewish ignorance, the media announced this year that in light of the circumstances, the authorities had decided to minimize danger to the public by splitting the traditional birkas kohanim at the Kosel into two separate days this year. The reporters implied that the purpose was to reduce the crowding at the Kosel, in case the Arabs decided to begin throwing stones again. However, these reports were simply inaccurate; the truth of the matter is that birkas kohanim always takes place on two separate days at the Kosel….

On that note, I should add that I was pleased to see David Friedman, the former ambassador to Israel under President Trump, attending the birkas kohanim. The sight of his face in the crowd was an encouraging reminder of the fact that we had enjoyed the service of a friendly and much-admired diplomat not long ago.

Israel Makes Concessions But Does Not Evade Criticism

Speaking of the Kosel and the Old City of Yerushalayim, I must also make mention of recent events on Har Habayis. This month, the month of Ramadan, is considered a special time on the Muslim calendar. Every year, the month brings Arab violence in its wake, and this year has been no exception. I wrote in the past about the meetings held by Bennett, Lapid, Gantz, and even President Herzog with King Abdallah of Jordan and with President Abu Mazen of the Palestinian Authority, in an effort to reduce tensions between Israel and Palestinians and to lower the flames of conflict. As I have mentioned, the people who hold the reins of power in this country do not seem to possess the ability, the experience, or the wisdom to lower those flames. Unfortunately, my fears seem to have been well-founded. The meetings with the Jordanian king, which included Israeli concessions to Jordan on issues such as the allocation of water, seem to have had an effect that was the exact opposite of their purpose. Palestinian incitement, based on the absurd claim that “the Jews” are endeavoring to take over the site, whipped the Arabs into a frenzy and triggered mass violence.

Just to help you understand how Israel’s international standing has sunk, let me reveal the following: On the day before the last Yom Tov of Pesach, the police arrested several Arab rioters and released a statement informing the Palestinian populace that the arrests had been made outside the Har Habayis compound. In other words, the Israeli police force felt compelled to reassure the Arab world that its officers hadn’t set foot on Har Habayis itself. The Israeli leadership is simply terrified of the world’s reaction. At the same time, this did not help Israel’s cause, as Jordan soon issued a fierce condemnation of the country’s actions.

I don’t want to discuss the actions of Jews who make a point of visiting Har Habayis, in an effort to demonstrate the country’s sovereignty over the siteI also do not wish to discuss MK Itamar Ben-Gvir. My point here is only to illustrate the extent to which Israel’s standing in the international community and its internal security have weakened. The police banned Ben-Gvir from visiting Har Habayis in spite of his status as a member of the Knesset, and Prime Minister Bennett announced at the end of this past week that Jews will not be permitted on Har Habayis until the end of Ramadan. Of course, this announcement was followed almost immediately by a deluge of recordings of statements made by Bennett and Shaked a year ago, when they insisted that anyone who wished to give up Israel’s sovereignty over Har Habayis should rightfully renounce the country’s claim to Tel Aviv as well. It seems that Bennett has made an about-face. Not the first or last time…

To make a long story short, as much as chareidi Jewry abhors the idea of Jews setting foot on Har Habayis, it is dispiriting to see how the government gives in to every whim of the Palestinian leadership in the area. And to make matters worse, their accommodating attitude does not even help; the Arab violence constantly continues!

Russian Aggression and Divided Arab Loyalties

There are two other issues that are connected to the violence in Yerushalayim and the weak Israeli response. One of those issues is the difficulty of navigating Israel’s relationship with Russia, which I have written about in the past. The prime minister and foreign minister are novices in their jobs, and both of them seem to be making every possible misstep. As I wrote previously, Foreign Minister Lapid has been zigzagging wildly on the issue of the war in Ukraine, and his constantly fluctuating stance has the potential to turn both Russia and Ukraine against Israel. In fact, that is exactly what is happening now. Putin released two statements against Israel both this week and last week. In one of those statements, he called on Israel to stop violating human rights and resolutions of the United Nations concerning Syria. In his second statement, he demanded that Israel return real estate holdings in Yerushalayim to Russia.

Then there are the Arabs. MK Ayman Oudeh, the chairman of the Joint Arab List, has called on every Arab serving in the army or the police force to resign and to return his weapons to the State of Israel. There are many Arabs, mostly Druse, both in the IDF and in the police. Oudeh’s statement sparked many fierce reactions, including calls for him to be tried on charges of treason or sedition. But this has simply brought the questionable loyalty of Israel’s Arab citizens back into the public focus. The chief of the police force reacted irately to his statement, and many people raised the concern that we might be about to witness a resumption of the Arab rioting against Jews in mixed cities such as Lod, Ramle, Acco, Haifa, and Yaffo.

There are two other issues that I haven’t discussed in this column, which I plan to treat more extensively next week, bli neder: the Supreme Court’s decision to postpone the issue of the Draft Law once again, and the testimony delivered by the chief of the police force at the commission of inquiry into the tragedy in Meron last year.

Government Spending at Bennett’s Raanana Home

There is another issue that stubbornly refuses to be removed from the public agenda: the status of the prime minister’s personal residence in Raanana. It has come to light that the government is spending a fortune on Bennett’s home. The Prime Minister’s Office was stymied by a simple question: Has Bennett’s home in Raanana become his official residence? It would have to be his official residence for state funds to be used to cover its expenses; however, Bennett has constantly claimed that he doesn’t plan to make it his official residence, and that he is simply waiting for construction to be finished at the official Prime Minister’s Residence on Rechov Balfour in Yerushalayim before moving there. Nevertheless, it was recently revealed that the legal advisor to the Prime Minister’s Office has classified the Raanana home as his official residence. Does that mean that Bennett lied? This issue has reached the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, reporter Ayelet Hasson publicized a list of the Bennett family’s expenditures, which have become a major topic of discussion. Last Sunday, Bennett felt compelled to release his own statement addressing the issue of his family’s expenses. Here is a brief excerpt: “Since we have nothing to hide, and we owe an accounting only to the public, here are the full facts: 1. There are no cooks employed at the Bennett family home. Consequently, external food services were used for the Bennett family, which consists of six people, in an organized fashion and in accordance with the rules. The cost was significantly lower than that of the employment of a cook at our residence, and it was also much lower than the food expenses of the previous prime minister and his family. 2. The law permits the prime minister to employ up to eight workers in various positions at his home, at a total cost of up to 102,000 NIS per month. This staff allowance was utilized to the fullest during most of the years of the previous prime minister’s tenure. Prime Minister Bennett, on the other hand, employs only three workers in his home, with a total monthly cost of 48,000 NIS. 3. The total monthly budget at the residences of the previous prime minister on Rechov Balfour and in Caesaria was 262,100 NIS, whereas the current budget is only 87,700 NIS.”

This preamble was followed by an extensive array of figures and calculations intended to prove that the previous prime minister, Binyomin Netanyahu, expended significantly more state funds than the current premier. For instance, Bennett reported that in both his Balfour and Caesaria residences, Netanyahu spent 102,000 NIS on employees every month, 141,800 NIS on maintenance and cleaning, and 37,300 NIS on food orders and preparation. Bennett’s corresponding expenses in Raanana, meanwhile, came out to 48,000 NIS monthly on employees, 15,000 NIS on cleaning and maintenance, and 24,700 NIS on food. In each of these areas, Bennett’s expenditures were thus significantly lower than those of his predecessor, yielding a total annual savings of 2,092,800 NIS for the state coffers. However, the level of detail in these figures reached the point of absurdity; it is very clear that Bennett is still living in Netanyahu’s shadow. And he also does not seem to understand that the exact numbers will not make a difference with regard to the main issue; if Bennett lied about whether his Raanana home is his official residence, then he will be in a problematic situation regardless of how much he has cost the state. To make matters worse, there is no logical explanation as to why the renovations on Rechov Balfour have been going on for a year already.

Bennett ended his highly irregular statement with the following comment: “We respect the duty of the media to critique any government, and we are not ashamed to take responsibility and admit to any mistakes we may have made. However, that critique must be based on truth and facts; no one should be allowed to cynically exploit the platform provided by the media and the public’s right to know.”

Two Terror Attacks Foiled Daily

This week, the Shabak announced that they have been thwarting two potential terror attacks every day. That is a stunning revelation. And when the Shabak makes a claim of this nature, you can be certain that it is accurate. Just two weeks ago, a group of terrorists were liquidated in a car while they were on their way to carry out a massive attack in Yerushalayim on erev Pesach. Hashem yishmor!

On that note, I must point out the intolerably frivolous attitude displayed by the police and the prosecution regarding Arab violence against Jews. Unfortunately, this laxity seems only to be inviting further violence. The Arabs have seen that the State of Israel is not in any rush to bring terrorists to justice, and they have been taking full advantage of that fact. We have been constantly hearing reports of charges against terrorists being dropped. Just last week, the media reported that the charges were dropped against two Arabs who were caught on camera accosting a chareidi Jew in the Old City of Yerushalayim and spraying him with water for several long minutes. In spite of the video evidence of the assault, the prosecution decided that the case is not subject to enforcement in criminal court.

The Jewish victim of this attack received support from Honenu, an organization that I have written about in the past. Attorney Ofir Steiner appealed the prosecution’s decision and demanded that the case be reopened. According to his appeal, the attack took place about half a year ago, during the nighttime hours. Footage from a security camera shows two Arab youths who were using a hose to wash an electric scooter when they noticed a Jew approaching them. One of the youths motioned to the other, who was holding the hose, and both of them looked at the Jewish passerby, who was dressed in chareidi attire, including a black hat. The assailant took the hose from his companion and waited until the Jewish man drew near them, and then he directed the spray of water from the hose at his victim. When the victim attempted to evade the stream of water, the assailant moved around the scooter so that the water would continue to drench him. The video shows the assailant shutting off the hose while the victim takes shelter behind a wall, and then moving around the scooter in order to target the victim again with another stream of water.

“The videos show that the assailant identified his victim as a Jew of chareidi appearance and decided to spray water on him for racist reasons, with the intent of humiliating him,” Steiner wrote to the court. “We have recently been witnessing a worrying increase in incidents of violence directed against Jews. Many people have contacted us [Honenu] after experiencing such incidents…. The chareidi Jewish community living in mixed neighborhoods in Yerushalayim has been suffering from this phenomenon in particular, and we must not belittle the contribution of incidents such as this one, which are not lethal but are extremely demeaning, and in which a Jewish person was targeted solely because of his Jewishness, to the general sense of a lack of security among the public.”

Shidduch advice from the Chazon Ish

As you might have guessed, over Pesach I pored over reams of newly published information and stories about Rav Chaim Kanievsky. I am eager to share some of my discoveries with you, although I could write endlessly on this subject. On account of space constraints, I will limit myself to two stories that were told by Rav Chaim himself. These are anecdotes that he heard from his revered uncle, the Chazon Ish. The stories appear in a kuntres published by one of Rav Chaim’s close talmidim, Rav Yitzchok Ohev-Tzion, featuring an assortment of material including two of his hespedim for Rav Chaim. The publication also includes a section titled “Kuntres Hazichronos,” which features various halachic rulings that Rav Chaim derived from the Chazon Ish. For instance, Rav Chaim is quoted as paskening that sheva brachos may be recited by a person who did not participate in the meal. (On the other hand, Rav Moshe Shmuel Shapiro—whose yahrtzeit is Rosh Chodesh Iyar—never agreed to recite any of the sheva brachos unless he had actually washed at the meal.)

Here is the first story, in Rav Ohev-Tzion’s words: “Rav Chaim once told a story about a bochur who used to reject every shidduch that was offered to him, finding a deficiency in every suggestion that was made. When the Chazon Ish heard about this, he asked someone to suggest a shidduch for the bochur that was extremely problematic. The intermediary told the Chazon Ish that he was embarrassed to redt such a shidduch to the bochur, and that he was afraid the young man would be deeply offended. However, the Chazon Ish was insistent and instructed him to tell the bochur that the shidduch had come from the Chazon Ish himself. After the suggestion was made, the young man became engaged to a different girl. Rav Chaim explained that the Chazon Ish felt that the bochur was rejecting every shidduch on account of haughtiness, and that this would be rectified by offering him a shidduch with many flaws and thus deflating his ego. Indeed, the bochur seemed to be jolted into looking past his pride, and he became engaged shortly thereafter.”

The second story concerns a man who came to the Chazon Ish to inquire about a bochur who was a frequent visitor to his home. When the questioner asked about the bochur’s Torah learning, the Chazon Ish replied, “It could be better.” The man took this as a positive assessment, reasoning that there is no limit to how much better a person can become. “How about his yiras Shomayim?” he asked. Once again, the Chazon Ish replied, “It could be better.” Again, the man took this as a positive sign and asked, “And what about his middos?” The Chazon Ish responded yet again, “It could be better.” The questioner was pleased with what he took as a glowing report, and in the end the shidduch came to fruition. When the Chazon Ish told this story, he added, “You see? When a shidduch is supposed to materialize, it will happen even if people speak against it.”

The Stolen Chosson Watch

Rav Moshe Shmuel Shapiro passed away on Rosh Chodesh Iyar 5766/2006. I still remember the day as vividly as if it were yesterday. Rosh Chodesh Iyar fell on Shabbos that year, and the rosh yeshiva’s nephew, Rav Moshe Dovid Lefkowitz, remarked that if he had lived for another half a day and had seen the bochurim arriving for the zman, his life would certainly have been extended for at least a few more months. Unfortunately, he passed away on Shabbos, shortly before the bochurim returned from the bein hazemanim break.

About a month ago, I traveled back to Yerushalayim from a wedding in Bnei Brak with an outstanding talmid chochom named Rav Shlomo Eliezer Fishman. The chosson was a bochur from “Wolfson’s,” otherwise known as Yeshivas Nesivos Chochmah, a yeshiva headed by Rav Doniel Wolfson. Rav Fishman is a member of the yeshiva’s faculty and is highly respected by the talmidim. During our ride, he surprised me by telling me that he had learned in Yeshivas Beer Yaakov in his youth, after coming to Israel from Monsey, NY. He surprised me further by sharing three stories about the rosh yeshiva that I had never heard before.

The first story illustrates the value that Rav Moshe Shmuel placed on family. Once, when Rav Fishman arrived at the rosh yeshiva’s home for a visit, he heard a commotion through the door that seemed to be fitting for a Yom Tov or some other special occasion. He soon discovered that the rosh yeshiva’s son, Rav Refoel (ben Chaya Feiga Tzipporah, who is currently hospitalized in Tel Hashomer Hospital) had arrived from Los Angeles. Overwhelmed by love for his son, the rosh yeshiva had gathered his family together to sing and give thanks to Hashem in honor of his arrival.

The second story took place when Rav Fishman once came to Beer Yaakov from Yerushalayim to deliver a chaburah in the yeshiva. When he had finished speaking and was preparing to return home, one of the bochurim approached him and asked for a ride to Yerushalayim. Rav Fishman hesitated to accommodate him, since upon arriving at the yeshiva, he had noticed a handwritten note from Rav Moshe Shmuel in which he implored the bochurim to refrain from leaving the premises until Shavuos. He was reluctant to accommodate the bochur in defiance of the rosh yeshiva’s wishes, and decided to consult with Rav Moshe Shmuel to ask him what to do. The rosh yeshiva replied, “The fact that the bochur plans to leave the yeshiva against my wishes is my problem. You, however, have a responsibility to provide him with a ride as a form of chessed.”

The third story was one that Rav Fishman heard secondhand. Many years ago, during his engagement, Rav Moshe Shmuel Shapiro learned in Yeshivas Lomza, along with many of the other future gedolei Torah of Eretz Yisroel. One Friday night, a thief entered the dormitory and stole a number of items from several of the rooms, including the suit that Rav Moshe Shmuel was scheduled to wear at his wedding and the gold watch that he had received as a chosson. The theft was discovered before Rav Moshe Shmuel returned to his room, and someone suggested notifying him about his loss. Rav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz, who was one of the most prominent bochurim in the yeshiva at the time, disagreed. “He is in the middle of learning now,” he pointed out. “What would be the benefit of telling him about it now? Let’s wait until he finishes learning, and then we will tell him.”

Rav Moshe Shmuel continued learning until the following morning. When he left the bais medrash, two bochurim approached him to tell him about the loss. The future rosh yeshiva immediately sat down and composed one of his most famous songs, to the words “seu marom eineichem u’reu mi bara eileh—lift your eyes heavenward and see Who created these things” (Yeshayahu 40:26). It is said that Rav Chaim Kanievsky, who also learned in Lomza, was very fond of this song.



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