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8 Iyar 5774 - May 8, 2014 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Pirkei Ovos, Chapter 2, Mishna 1

Eizohi derech yeshoroh sheyovor lo ho'odom? Kol shehi tif'eres le'oseho vetiferes lo min ho'odom.

A grandchild of the holy Chasam Sofer zt"l relates in the sefer Chut Hameshulosh:

During the hot summers, the Chasam Sofer would leave Pressburg with its pressures, for the serene atmosphere and green pastures of Jergen, a small countryside village not far away. Not that he took a holiday from his learning and shiurim. In fact, every day a carriage-load of bochurim would ride out to the tiny town to learn the daily shiur with their Rebbe and then travel back to transmit it further to the other talmidim.

But nonetheless, the quiet village gave serenity and a little respite from the rush of the Jewish central life in Pressburg with all the burdens that came with being its rov, and allowed the Chasam Sofer to gain fresh energy for the winter months.

Usually he would rent the small house of a non-Jew there. But once he was pressed upon by a rich yet simple Jew to be his guest.

The Chasam Sofer had not been in Jergen more than a few days when rumors began circulating that the Rov of Pressburg did not conduct himself in accordance with halacha.

Justifiably perturbed, the Chasam Sofer sent his shamash to inquire as to the source of the rumors. It turned out that this was none other than the Rov's host, who insisted he had seen the Rov eating his Shabbos meal without having made Kiddush.

In truth, the Chasam Sofer had risen early and, after davening, had made Kiddush over mezonos. He then sat down to learn a long while, after which he ate his Shabbos seudah.

His host, a simple Yid and an am ho'oretz, started his day much later and saw only the second half of the Rov's morning, so he missed the Kiddush.

Concerned, the Chasam Sofer tried to search for a reason for the occurrence.

"Perhaps," he considered, "it's because I acted against the gemora (Shabbos 63a) which forbids a talmid chochom from living with an am ho'oretz!"

Later in a public droshoh he explained that his mind was now at ease. "I was always worried about the future generations. What will be if, choliloh, there are people who profess to be rabbonim and leaders but in reality are not fit to lead Klal Yisroel?

"This story came as a sign from Heaven to placate me. I saw now that even when it came to a Rov like myself, elderly and well-known for many years, when a simple Jew saw that I did not make Kiddush he refused to accept any excuse, and immediately publicized the fact so that others should not be led astray.

"I was comforted that Klal Yisroel will always seek to follow only Torah- true leaders."


Vehevei zohir bemitzvoh kaloh kevachamuroh, she'ein atoh yodei'a matan sechoron shel mitzvos.

"People are mistaken," thundered Maran HaRav Shach, "when they think that only great and grand mitzvos that are rare and involve hard work are important, and regular mitzvos do not have to be fulfilled with such particularity."

He then proceeded to tell a story he had heard from Reb Boruch Ber zt"l.

The Nachlas Dovid, Reb Dovid Tebil of Minsk, was rov in a small village where his wage was low. However, he had an additional, fairly steady income from two businessmen from the next town. The pair worked together and whenever a problem arose in their business they would bring it to Reb Dovid and pay him "psak geldt" for settling their dispute.

When Reb Dovid's daughter became engaged, the rov was in need of extra money to cover the wedding expenses.

Turning to his two "supporters" he explained, "I've never asked anyone for help, but now I simply have no choice but to request your financial assistance to marry off my daughter."

The two of them conferred for a moment and then responded apologetically.

"To the rov of our town we give tzedokoh money. You are the recipient of our psak money, but that's a different account. Let the residents of your own town worry about your needs."

"Listen and I'll tell you a story," replied the Nachlas Dovid with a smile.

A wealthy man once passed away leaving a large inheritance to be divided among his children. Aside from this, there was a precious set of mehudar tefillin that had been written by a famed mekubol, that was also worth a fortune. Unable to decide who would become the owner of this special tefillin, the brothers decided that in the meantime they would give them to the youngest son who was soon turning bar mitzvah.

The tefillin stayed with the youngest son all his life and he was always particular to take them with him wherever he went. He only used these special tefillin and guarded them as the apple of his eye.

One winter day he went for a short trip to the neighboring town for a business deal, intending to return in a couple of hours.

As he arrived in the next town, a steady snow began to fall. Soon it had turned into a blizzard and there was no returning home that day. The young man slept overnight, snowed into a strange place and hoping to return home in the morning so as to be able to daven with his holy tefillin.

The weather, however, only worsened. By midday he had prayed without tefillin, hoping to arrive home before nightfall and still don them.

With the setting of the winter sun over the deep snow drifts, his hopes of reaching his own tefillin were dashed. Brokenheartedly he borrowed a set of tefillin from his host and made do with them for one day, much to his regret.

Years later, the man passed away and was brought to the Heavenly Court for his greatest trial.

"This man must go straight to Gehennom," a loud and awesome voice announced. He watched — shocked — as the deeds of his lifetime were detailed and it was revealed that his precious tefillin had been posul all along. The punishment for a Jew who never dons tefillin is a terrible Gehennom, and the mal'ochim grabbed hold of him to take him there.

Suddenly a clear voice stopped them: "Wait!" One mal'ach came to testify that one snowy day the man had been prevented by a blizzard from putting on his tefillin and had instead used the "ordinary" tefillin of another Jew.

If so he doesn't fit into the category of a Jew who never donned tefillin. You see? One day he did wear a kosher pair.

So this one day's ordinary tefillin turned out to be his lifesaver, pulling him out from the depths of Gehennom.

Concluded the Nachlas Dovid, "The fact that you give tzedokoh all your lives does not exempt you from giving tzedokoh now. Perhaps indeed this will be the mitzvah that will save you in the future. You never know which mitzvah it will be that can extract you from the fires of Gehennom."


Histakel beshloshoh devorim, ve'ein atoh bo lidei aveiroh . . . ayin ro'eh ve'ozen shoma'as vekol ma'asecho besefer nichtovim.

"Is our generation wiser than the previous one?" asked the Chofetz Chaim, "that it has come up with such great inventions as trains, telegraphs, etc.? Hashem gave us these tools for we are weaker in emunoh than the doros preceding us. When they saw this mishna they believed its words and were shaken to do teshuvoh. Our dor, however, needs concrete examples. Seeing a photo, we then believe that scenes can be recalled" (and of course videos make the message clearer).

It is told that Reb Dovid Schneebalg zt"l, rov of Vishnitz, in his old age heard a recording of one of his droshos and promptly fainted. When he came to, he gasped, "We can truly see how ozen shoma'as!"


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