The Radziner Rebbe is most widely renowned for his chiddush and discovery of the techeiles. Much has been written concerning his find, namely his suggestion for the chilozon fish whose blood is drawn for the dye of tzitzis.
Although the majority of Klal Yisroel did not accept his chiddush, the chassidei Radzin were a large group in Poland. In fact, HaRav Dovid Halachmi, may Hashem send him a refuah sheleimah, writes that fifteen thousand chassidim of Radzin in Europe wore the techeiles on their arba kanfos.
In his youth, when his grandfather the Izhbitzer Rebbe, the Mei Shiloach, was saying a dvar Torah, he mentioned that in Bircas Cohanim there are eleven words. Immediately, the young grandson added, "That is excluding the words that appear twice," amazing the chassidim with his quick head.
His father, the Beis Yaakov of Radzin, was once heard to comment that the young Gershon Henoch is an illui in the making of tzitzis. It was only years later when the chiddush of the techeiles came out that the father's words were understood.
Another sefer of Rabbeinu's that aroused much controversy among the gedolim of his time was his wonderful sefer Sidrei Taharos.
As is well known, there is no gemora on seder Taharos; only the mishnayos. Rabbeinu collected every meimra from all of Shas that is connected to Seder Taharos and published them arranged in the order of mishnayos, adding explanations and chidushim on both sides, so that the sefer looked just like a gemora.
Those opposed to his idea had no doubt as to his greatness in Torah and the immense sharpness revealed in the pages of his sefer. Rather they were afraid that due to its similarity to the rest of the Shas it would be learnt as though it was the gemora itself.
After years of toiling in Torah learning, staying up days and nights without end, when his draft for the above sefer was finally finished, Reb Gershon Henoch took the written manuscripts in to his father, the Beis Yaakov.
The father was delighted to behold the breadth of wisdom the pages revealed, but told him the following:
"Listen my son. I will not give you a haskomoh for your sefer until you bring me the following three things;
1) A sign from Heaven that they desire your work to be printed;
2) A ra'ayo that someone somewhere among the gedolei hadoros had this idea before you;
3) Ten haskomos from gedolim of our time.
Extremely dejected, the young genius left his father's house.
Haskomos from rabbonim I can acquire, for I will go to fifty rabbonim and I can hope that ten of them will give me a letter. But a sign from Heaven? How am I to procure that?
He decided to fast two hafsokos — two consecutive weeks — during which he davened to Hashem to enlighten him. Upon the conclusion of the second week, he received in the mail a catalogue from a company in the West that dealt in antique seforim and manuscripts. Among the names and descriptions of valuable items listed, he found reference to a sefer on Zeraim and Taharos written by one of the gedolim. The sefer had been laid out exactly like the gemora but for some reason had never gone to print.
Considering that the arrival of this catalogue coincided with the end of his fast, Rabbeinu decided that perhaps this was the sign from Shomayim that he had been awaiting.
His father agreed with his theory and urged him to hurry and travel the length and breadth of Hungary and Galicia to collect his haskomos.
Reb Gershon Henoch made his way to Sanz, knowing that with the haskomoh of the holy Divrei Chaim, many more doors would be opened to him and opposition to his sefer would decline drastically. However the Sanzer would not give his haskomoh to a sefer in the form of a gemora, for, as he put it, "The gemora has sodos — not only in the gemora itself, but even in the number of its pages."
When Rabbeinu admitted that he had not reckoned out an order or number of pages but that they would be determined by the printer, the Sanzer shook his head, "The medrash tells us, `If a person sinned and is chayav misoh what can be his tikkun? If he is used to learning one daf, he should now learn two . . .' So we see that the pages themselves have a certain significance."
And so he never received that haskomoh from the Sanzer.
However there were many others who did agree; The Shoel Umeishiv, Reb Yosef Shaul Nathansohn of Lemberg, gave an enthusiastic haskomoh after being immensely impressed with the wisdom of the sefer's young author's greatness.
Among others who joined him were the Malbim, the Machaneh Chaim, Rabbi Shamshon Rafael Hirsch, the Sdei Chemed and Reb Shieleh of Kutno, the Nefesh Chayoh of Pietrkov and the Gaon Rabbi Yitzchok Elchonon Spector of Kovno.
Rabbeinu's chiddush of the techeiles is explained in his three seforim on the subject: Pesil Hatecheiles, Ein Hatecheiles and Sefunei Temunei Chol.
Rabbeinu had to use wisdom, tact and persuasion even with those who agreed with him in theory, like Reb Shieleh of Kutno. When Reb Gershon Henoch came to Kutno to discuss his chiddush with Reb Shieleh zt"l, the latter suggested, "Let's go outside and see what everyone does. Since nobody wears the techeiles, why do we have to introduce a new practice?"
Quick-witted, Rabbeinu countered, "Let's go outside and ask an ordinary person what his opinion is regarding the machlokes between Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Yehuda regarding chometz."
They went outside and the first person they met was a simple wagon driver, to whom they posed their question. Naturally, the ignorant man had no idea of what they were talking or what they wanted of him.
Turning to the Rav of Kutno, the Radziner said, "It says in Pesochim, `Everyone is of the opinion that chometz of six hours is osur.' Who is everyone? Here we just saw a Jew who has no idea. So we can infer that the `olom' referred to in the gemora means the talmidei chachomim.
"Following that, we are the ones who have to decide according to the ra'ayos and explanations of the gemora how to deal with the techeiles, and not to look at what the olom does."
A young avreich came to Rabbeinu for a brochoh that he be appointed to a position as rov of a kehilloh. "Who says you are fit to be a rov?" asked Rabbeinu.
"I am a soneh betza, I detest money."
"Know then," replied Rabbeinu, "that with money even a soneh betza can be bribed."
An opponent of Rabbeinu whose opposition was not lesheim Shomayim met the Rebbe on Purim and greeted him.
"With your greeting," retorted the Radziner, "you can be yotzei the mitzvah of mishloach manos today."
"Doesn't the mitzva require two manos?" questioned the man.
"Your greeting was already two portions," came the sharp response, "echod bepeh ve'echod beleiv!"