I can’t say that I was especially close to Rav Gershon Edelstein zt”l, but during the past several years, I would visit his home when I was in Bnei Brak. Originally, there was no waiting line and it was easy to get in to speak with a giant of his magnitude. As great as he was, that is how humble he was. He made an impression as the epitome of humility, a level he reached no doubt from decades of learning mussar and yegiah in Torah. He always spoke softly and measured each word that came out of his mouth. There was never an extra utterance. Each word was laden with meaning and gadlus.
Rav Gershon reminded me of my grandfather, Rav Leizer Levin, a Kelmer talmid through and through. Always calm, Rav Gershon’s room was the epitome of orderliness. He was kind, gracious, brilliant, and clearly a person who was molded by Torah. Since his youngest years, his only interests in life were learning Torah and teaching talmidim. It is said that when he was offered a candy as a young child, he refused it. “I get all the sweetness I need from Torah,” he remarked. For the past eighty years, he worked on developing and molding generations of talmidim through teaching them, learning with them, and loving them.
When I’d go to his home, I’d notice a small black-and-white picture of the Chazon Ish hanging on the wall. I would look at it and study it. One time, I noticed that under the picture were the words “HaChazon Ish shlit”a,” and I realized that the picture had been hanging on that wall for some seventy years. Rav Gershon hung up that picture when the Chazon Ish was still alive. For seven decades, that picture hung there. The same picture, on the same wall, in the same room. Nothing had changed.
And that was Rav Gershon. Nothing ever changed. His seder in life was such that every day, he would daven at the same time and learn at the same time. Everything he did was the same. He never changed. He lived for the past seventy years as if the Chazon Ish, the Ponovezher Rov, Rav Eliyohu Eliezer Dessler and his other rabbeim were there with him.
That picture hung on the wall, proclaiming quietly to the world the greatness of the giant who lived there: “Lehagid shevacho shelo shinah. In this home lives a gadol baTorah who hasn’t changed, hasn’t been affected by the world outside, is not temped by any allures, and seeks no fame or physical pleasures. Only Torah.”
So grows a gadol. So grows a leader of Klal Yisroel. So grows a man Klal Yisroel can turn to as a teacher, leader and guide.
Yehi zichro boruch. Mi yitein lonu temuraso?