From that fateful day onwards, the day of the passing of his
father R' Yitzchok Zeev, zt"l, HaRav Yosef Dov didn't
stop giving shiurim. Reb Berel, as he was known, was
commanded by his father to continue teaching the
talmidim, a command which he carried out even with
mesirus nefesh at times, until and inclusive of his
There were days in his later years when he was physically
unable to do anything and, his failing strength
notwithstanding, he would still give over the shiur.
He expended tremendous effort into preparing what to say to
the talmidim and perhaps even more effort into
deciding what to refrain from saying. Thus, he would often
tell his students, "Here in Brisk, far more than learning
what to be mechadesh we have to learn what not to be
mechadesh and not to explain."
At the levaya of Reb Berel his son, HaRav Avrohom
Yehoshua, now rosh yeshiva of Brisk, quoted the
niftar as having often said: "Mesirus nefesh is
needed not only for limud Torah itself, but also for
amoloh shel Torah. One has to toil selflessly to
understand a difficult svoroh. That is what is
required of a ben Torah." He would add that this type
of selflessness is the most difficult, for it is constantly
hidden and no one will ever know or realize the extent of
yegiyah that went into understanding a fine profound
In addition to the regular shiurim in Kodshim,
from the year 5720, the year of his father's petiroh,
Reb Berel gave shiurim in Zeroim and
Taharos to a group of outstanding talmidim.
Unique in their pleasantness, these shiurim would
begin at nine in the evening and continue into the late
hours of the night as each talmid tried to attain the
maximum learning while savoring the special taste of the
During one of these sessions, the group finished learning
maseches Pei'ah in the middle of the zman.
Without stopping for a moment, Rabbeinu asked the
talmidim which masechta they would like to begin
next, and upon their request immediately gave a full
shiur of several hours in maseches Ma'aser
Sheni, as though he had been prepared for it.
It is no wonder, therefore, that streams of people came
knocking on his door begging to learn under the wings of the
great Rosh Yeshiva. One of these was HaRav Elya Lopian,
zt"l, mashgiach of Kfar Chassidim, with a
grandson whom he wished to enroll. Reb Berel showed him the
small, packed-full room where shiurim took place and
no explanation was necessary. There was simply no room for
another bochur. Reb Elya beheld the size of the room
and the number of talmidim therein and insisted: For
so many talmidim to fit into such a small hall there
cannot be anything but a miracle taking place. And if it is
ma'aseh nissim, then one more will make no difference!
Somehow, the ness extended to squeeze in the grandson
of R' Elya too.
The love of Reb Berel towards his talmidim was soul-
binding, extending far beyond the regular rebbi-pupil
relationship. With fatherly care he imbued in them yiras
Shomayim, exemplary middos and clear, pure
In earlier years, the Chumash shiur was known to go on
for many hours, while R' Yoshe Ber transmitted the daas
Torah of his father, Reb Yitzchok Zev, zt"l,
exactly as he had received it in turn from his father, Reb
Chaim Brisker, zt"l.
However, in later years the Chumash shiur would only
take about two hours. The reason is given by a talmid
who was present at the time of the abrupt change.
On a motzei Shabbos, Rabbeinu was teaching
Chumash and, in connection to the parsha,
strongly protested the actions of an askan that had
caused a serious breach in the wall of Yiddishkeit.
Nodding in agreement, one of the talmidim exclaimed,
"Oh yes, this askan is a thief," and went on to relate
all the fellow's misdeeds and bad character traits.
Rabbeinu stopped him in mid-sentence. "That is loshon
hora. Are we discussing people here? We are protesting
against the actions and the shittah, not the man
personally. I see I have been misunderstood," he added
sadly. "And in that case I will have to shorten the
shiur." From then on the shiur was considerably
shorter to avoid a similar occurrence.
Unparalleled in our times was his amazing power of
bitochon. His yeshiva was run without an office,
fundraisers or accountants. Yet every Rosh Chodesh one
way or another, the necessary amount of money was there to
be given to those whom he had to give. Never once did he
worry about the next month. Every talmid would receive
according to his needs, and Reb Berel knew exactly in whose
home expenses had risen, who had an upcoming wedding with
extra expenditures to cover — each one receiving as much as
he needed that particular month.
When he wanted to boost the bitochon of one of his
talmidim, he would allow him to have a share in the
"accountancy" so that the man could see with his own eyes
how just in the month when not much income arrived, many
talmidim did not come to ask for their money, each one
for his particular reason.
Not every donation was accepted without question. If a woman
donated the money, then her husband's permission had to be
confirmed or the money would be returned.
An anonymous donation brought with it a flurry of detective
work, for it could not be accepted until the identity and
behavior of the giver was discovered and approved of.
A large sum donated anonymously was duly returned when it
was discovered that the sender was living with a gentile
It is told that a certain philanthropist came to Reb Berel
with the intention of giving a large sum for the yeshiva. He
had almost reached the Soloveitchik house when he was
stopped by a Jew who worked for a different yeshiva who
tried, with all means of persuasion, to coerce the man into
giving his money to the other institution.
Enraged, a talmid of Rabbeinu burst into his room and
told him what was going on outside.
Unmoved, the Rosh Yeshiva placated his loyal pupil, telling
him calmly, "The money that has to pass our hands will reach
us anyway and that which doesn't get here is a sign it
wasn't destined for us at all."
How astonished were those present when a while later the
aforementioned nadvan came into Reb Berel, explaining
that he had almost come in earlier but someone had tried to
persuade him to direct his good intentions elsewhere.
"Boruch Hashem I finally arrived here," he exclaimed
and so saying withdrew a larger sum than he had originally
Despite his exalted middos, Reb Berel always
attributed his greatness to his father. From his youth, he
walked hand in hand with his father, cleaving to him and
etching every nuance into his memory.
Each word or opinion of his father's would be looked into
and clarified with the utmost precision, until Reb Berel was
sure he understood the Griz's line of thought. In fact, Reb
Yitzchok Zev himself would teach his talmidim his
son's ideas on difficult sugyos, so similar were their
derech halimud and hashkofoh.
Once Reb Berel came to his father, saying he had heard that
the Griz had been mattir a certain halocho.
"Did you doubt what you heard?" asked his father. When his
son answered that he had indeed suspected the report was an
unfounded rumor, his father was very pleased.
"My father Reb Chaim Halevi zt"l told me," said the
Griz, "that if I ever hear something quoted in his name that
to me does not sound likely, I should doubt its
authenticity. For I understand his style of opinion and if
to me it seems unlikely it is probably not so."
Already when he was young his father foretold that Reb Berel
would one day be a great rosh yeshiva. He even handed
him a large sum of money, saying that he had received this
for the yeshiva building.
"I feel that I will not build this edifice, but you,
be'ezras Hashem will be the one to build it."
An amazing fact was told by HaRav Avrohom Yehoshua.
"At the time when the yeshiva was being built, I as a young
boy was often sent to give over the payments in their
installments to the contractor. The last time that my father
the Grid gave me the money to pay, he said to me: `Listen my
son, this money is the sum I received from my father for the
yeshiva building. Take it and pay the contractor.'"
So saying he carried out the will of his father, HaRav
Yitzchok Zev zt"l.
"There's a well-known story that Reb Chaim of Volozhin knew
of a woman who had received a brochoh from the
Sha'agas Aryeh that she would merit to build a shul in
Yerushalayim. When he heard that the woman wanted to travel
to Eretz Yisroel to fulfill the blessing, he told her,
`What's the hurry? You have the promise of the Sha'agas
Aryeh!" She waited until she had lived to a ripe old age and
only then went up to Eretz Yisroel to build the
shul. Having done her life's task, she then passed
"So too my father," continued HaRav Avrohom Yehoshua. "After
he had carried out the shlichus of his father and
given over the money for the yeshiva building, he passed on
to chayei Haolom Habo."