Rabbi Chaim Shlomo Leibovitz heard from a talmid of his
grandfather, Rav Boruch Ber zt"l, who had a chavrusa
with Maran during the period that the latter got married. He told him
that on the Rosh Yeshiva's wedding day, that talmid of his
grandfather reasoned he would have some free time, for surely the
chosson would be busy. However, the Rosh Yeshiva sat and
learned with him until half an hour before his own chuppah.
Furthermore, on the following morning at six o'clock, the
chavrusa was awakened by an urgent knocking on his door. To his
surprise, there stood the chosson in all his finery. His eyes
widened in wonder as he opened the door and Maran asked if he was
feeling well. "I've been waiting here for you an hour-and-a-half,
wondering why you haven't come to learn," explained the
chosson. "I reckoned you're probably not feeling well."
When the Rebbetzin was ill in the hospital and the doctors decided to
amputate her leg, the Rosh Yeshiva was informed that the operation
would take ten hours. During all that time the Rosh Yeshiva, who was
fasting, paced back and forth outside the operating theater without
saying a word besides for a short conversation with the Ponovezher Rov
when he came to him.
When the ten hours of the operation were over, the Rosh Yeshiva,
zt"l, returned home, immediately sat down and began writing
chidushei Torah on the Rambam on Hilchos Malveh Veloveh.
After one and a half hours writing, a sigh burst forth from his lips
that he has no more strength. Only then did the Rosh Yeshiva break his
fast. (This story appears in the hesped of HaRav Heisler, who
accompanied the Rosh Yeshiva that day, in greater detail.)
When he would walk in the streets, one could see on his face
expressions of deep thought and concentration and from time to time he
would nod or shake his head, murmuring, "That's not a svoroh,"
or "this is the correct svoroh." More than once he could be
found sitting for four or five consecutive hours thinking through a
When the Rosh Yeshiva, zt"l, was a young boy learning in Slutsk
in R' Isser Zalman Meltzer's yeshiva, the famous dayan of
Brisk, HaRav Simchah Zelig Riger zt"l, sent his son to learn in
the same yeshiva. Since the boy needed help with his learning, his
father asked Reb Isser Zalman to appoint a bochur who was a
talmid chochom to study together with him and he, the father,
R' Isser Zalman sought out the best bochur for the job and
asked his nephew Reb Elozor Menachem to learn with the son of the
dayan. At the same time, he knew he was doing his nephew a
favor, the boy was truly destitute at the time.
The Rosh Yeshiva zt"l agreed to do as his uncle asked him and
he learned with the son of the dayan.
After a month, R' Isser Zalman went to deliver the money R' Simcha
Zelig had sent to his nephew. The latter, however, refused to accept a
penny, his explanation being that the whole deal was ". . . a
mekach to'us. I was told that the bochur needs help in
his studies, but I've seen that he learns well and doesn't really need
my help." Thus he argued that payment here was incorrect and he
refused to accept the money as charity.
R' Isser Zalman was at a loss and decided to ask the advice of his son-
in-law, R' Aaron Kotler, zt"l. Surely R' Aaron's sharpness
would find a way to resolve the matter and see to it that the Rosh
Yeshiva, zt"l, would not refuse to take the money he had
Reb Aaron instantly came up with a brilliant solution. The whole
sofek is whether the boy needs help in his learning or not.
Give him a test on a difficult Tosafos in Shas which he
should study for on his own. If he doesn't do well it's a sure sign
that he needs help and Rav Shach will agree to teach him for
The son of the dayan himself later related that he had no idea
what R' Aaron was trying to achieve and when he was given the
Tosafos to learn for a test, he threw all his strength into
learning it well. After much toil and effort he grasped the material
and when he was tested he did very well.
When the Rosh Yeshiva, zt"l, heard the results of the boy's
exam, he was delighted that here was the raiyoh that he may not
accept the money.
Rabbi Meir Heisler, shlita, relates that in 5731 when the Rosh
Yeshiva was ill in the hospital, he was there together with the family
when the doctor came in. The family began to ask his advice as to the
Rosh Yeshiva's condition and treatment and obviously the doctors
listened and weighed up carefully the options, standing before Rav
Shach with yiras hakovod.
In the middle of the conversation Rav Shach asked his family what they
were discussing with the doctor. When he was told that they were
considering how to treat him, he announced, "I do not want you to
treat me with preference over my neighbor in the next bed, an elderly
Yemenite man. What will be with him, will be with me, and anyway,"
continued the Rosh Yeshiva, "I think it is gezel for the doctor
to give me more attention than any other patient. He is paid to treat
all patients in the hospital without taking time from one for the sake
R' Meir Zvi Bergman, shlita, son-in-law of HaRav Shach and Rosh
Yeshivas Rashbi, claimed that his father-in-law never gave him an
approbation for his yeshiva, saying he could not use his status for
the sake of his family.
The Rosh Yeshiva was once told that there was a teaching vacancy in
Chinuch Atzmai and he could put a word in for his granddaughter so she
could receive the job. The Rosh Yeshiva shuddered at the thought. "Do
you think I would use my work in Chinuch Atzmai as a tool to gain
positions for my family? Never!"
A close talmid of his came to the Rosh Yeshiva with a
sefer he had published. Thumbing through the pages, Maran
noticed dedications to those who had donated money towards the
printing of the sefer.
The Rosh Yeshiva said sharply, "When I printed my sefer Avi
Ezri, I took no donations. Instead I printed just a few, sold them
and then printed some more."
Seeing the face of his talmid fall, he then added softly, "On
the other hand, my uncle, R' Isser Zalman did take money from others
for his seforim."