The bi-annual "yerid" — business fair —
in Strisov was made up of a mixed concoction of Jews from
all over Galicia. After all, everyone has to make a
Lately, however, word spread among the more learned of the
businessmen that Strisov has another attraction: the son of
the town's rov, Rabbi Yehoshua Heshel. The little seven-year-
old had captured the heart and admiration of even great
talmidei chachomim. Visiting Jews would ply him with
difficult riddles and questions in learning and subsequently
delight in his sharp answers, given with a speed and
maturity way beyond his years.
When given a coin of ten greizer, little Dovid
Menachem Manish would recite a whole siman from the
Shaagas Arye by heart.
"What if I give you another ten?" teased one of the traders.
The little boy promptly recited another siman.
As the little boy grew up, he utilized his phenomenal talent
for Hashem and His Torah. All his time was spent in diligent
learning, allowing himself a maximum of two hours sleep a
night. His talmid, the rov of Sunderland zt"l,
related that his Rebbe would write his teshuvos at
night, continually rising from bed to look up different
seforim. Finally, just as the room had settled into a
peaceful silence, his "sleeping" time was over and the Rebbe
would get up to learn.
Once, in his later years, Rabbi Dovid Menachem fell asleep
during Melave Malka on a motzei Shabbos. Upon
awakening, he sighed, "You see what happens in my old age
— I just fall asleep. In my younger years, I was able
to stay awake several consecutive nights, learning without a
break. In fact once, after I had been awake almost all week,
I fell asleep on a Friday afternoon. How surprised I was to
awaken and find that tefillos Shabbos had begun and I
was still dressed in my weekday garb!"
A talmid once noticed that R' Dovid Menachem had
drifted off to sleep for a few minutes during the day
following a number of nights that he had not touched his
"Isn't it preferable," queried the talmid, "to set
aside a time for sleeping at night, rather than to fall
asleep in the middle of the day's seder?"
Rabbenu's reply was humble in its simplicity. "I've seen it
brought in holy seforim that forgoing the night's
sleep is an atonement for sins."
Rabbenu once had to stay for a while in a remote mountain
area in Switzerland for health reasons. The area was devoid
of any Jewish life and R' Dovid Menachem was delighted when
a Yid living in the area came in. Being a simple man, the
Yid did not have much Torah to tell and their conversation
centered mainly around stories of tzaddikim. After
the man left, Rabbeinu turned to his attendant with
"At first I was happy to meet a Jew here in this remote
little town, but to spend so much time without learning
Torah is too much for me."
A talmid who was privileged to spend Pesach with
Rabbenu related the following:
"For a few consecutive days and nights before Pesach, R'
Dovid Menachem did not sleep at all. Then, after the
seder, my Rebbe took a few seforim with him
into his room to learn. I fell into an exhausted sleep and
awoke to the sound of my Rebbe learning with a sublime
sweetness such as I had never heard before. I was sure that
he was learning chapters of Kabboloh and got up to
watch and listen closer. How surprised I was to see that the
Rebbe was studying gemora maseches Pesochim!"
Rabbi Dovid Menachem was extremely close to the rebbes of
Belz and would make sure to travel to Belz every Rosh
Once after spending the beginning of the High Holy Days in
the inspiring atmosphere there, Rabbeinu wanted to stay for
Yom Kippur too. He had nowhere to stay, but his yearning to
stay surpassed all else.
He lodged in the Beis Medrash, sleeping on a bench
when fatigue overcame him and basically fasting. But nothing
else mattered, as long as he would be in Belz for Yom
However, a mortal body can only endure so much and, during
the Yom Kippur tefillos, R' Dovid Menachem was
overcome by weakness. He was carried out to a small room
adjacent to the beis medrash, where the
dayonim of Belz instructed him to eat. Just at that
moment, the voice of Reb Yehoshua of Belz davening
the Avodoh floated through the open doorway.
R' Dovid Menachem felt the words imbuing him with renewed
strength. The color returned to his face and, sitting up, he
announced that he no longer felt the necessity to eat. In
later years, when he related the episode, R' Dovid Menachem
would add, "I felt that the Rebbe revived my body and soul
The year 1930/5690 brought with it new troubles for Polish
Jewry, as the government issued one edict after another
prohibiting the practice of Jewish laws and customs. An
emergency meeting, headed by the Chofetz Chaim zt"l,
was convened to discuss the situation. Rabbi Dovid
Menachem was sent by his Rebbe to take part in the
Upon seeing him,l the Chofetz Chaim remarked, "I wouldn't
say that the Belzer must come, but I did say that whoever is
prepared to lay down his life for the sake of Heaven should
Immediately Rabbeinu sent a telegram to Belz and so the
Belzer Rav also joined the meeting.
It was decided that a delegation would be sent to the
president. The question now was who would be sent to
represent Polish Jewry. An impressive list of rabbonim,
askonim, professors, and the like was presented, but the
Belzer Rav said that only rabbonim and gedolei
Yisroel should be sent.
Upon seeing that his Rebbe's words were not being
comprehended, Rabbi Dovid Menachem asked permission to
"In gemora Me'ilah, Daf 17, we find that the
goyim issued decrees against the observance of
mitzvos. Rabbi Reuven ben Istrobli was sent to try to revoke
the decree, because he was from a different area and would
not be recognized as a Jew. Indeed, the edicts were revoked
but as soon as the authorities found out that R' Reuven was
a Jew, the decrees were renewed. This time, Rabbi Shimon Bar
Yochai was sent to plead on behalf of the Yidden. The
reason was that he had past experience in miracles.
"It's therefore incumbent on us," continued Rabbi Dovid
Menachem, "to send gedolei Yisroel who have been
granted miracles in the past. Furthermore our leaders are
the children of Hashem."
Then, he added: "I once wanted to go to the mikveh
with my friend, the rov of Prodishne, but the man in charge
refused to let us in, claiming that he could not reopen now.
All our pleas fell on deaf ears, until his son happened to
come along. Seeing our plight he urged his father, `Come on,
Father — these two honorable gentlemen want so much to
go to the mikveh. Just open for them this once.' The
man was persuaded by his son and he let us in.
"We, too," continued R' Dovid Menachem, "daven and
plead to Hakodosh Boruch Hu to annul the decrees, but
when his sons, the gedolim, put in their good word,
He is sure to listen to their tefillos."
"When you go, it shall accompany you. (Mishlei 6:22)"
These words were fulfilled in the case of Rabbenu, where the
Torah accompanied him even as he went from this world to the
next. Rabbenu was penning a teshuvoh to a
talmid and while he was writing he suddenly felt
unwell and his neshomoh left him.
He left us a precious legacy — his sefer