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3 Kislev, 5781 - November 19, 2020 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Clarity in Torah and Character: HaGaon R' Shlomo Heiman — Rosh Yeshivas Torah Vodaas, Ramailless, and Baranovitch

by C. Zilberman

HaRav Raphael Chaim Shlomo Heiman


The yahrtzeit of HaRav Raphael Chaim Shlomo Heiman, gaon and true Torah pioneer in America, is 17 Kislev. He was niftar in 1945 at the age of 52, so this is his 76th yahrtzeit. We first published this 26 years ago, in the year of the 50th yahrtzeit, in our print edition in Eretz Yisroel. This is a major addition of information on HaRav Heiman to the Internet. It was written by Rabbi Zilberman originally in English specifically for the Israeli English Yated Ne'eman.

The heartbroken Rebbetzin was sitting shiva alone. Although they were childless, HaRav Shlomo Heiman and his wife had always been united in their aspiration to build true bnei Torah. Now R' Heiman had died, and Feiga Heiman was by herself.

In front of her sat a small group of Torah Vodaas students who had come to console her. "Der Rebbe," the Rebbetzin said to them, "taught you how to learn gemora; I will teach you how to be good husbands!" And she delivered a shiur on that subject, illustrated by the conduct of her late husband:

"R' Shlomo had a chavrusa who would come to our house every night and learn with him from 8:30, right after his supper, until 10:30 at night. After I had cleared off the table and washed the dishes, I would go out collecting tzedoko for orphans, widows and other needy people. By the time I returned, R' Shlomo's chavrusa had already gone home. And what would I find every time I came home? On the table was a plate of nicely arranged cake, two cups, spoons, sugar, tea bags, and a jar of coffee. Water would be boiling on the gas range, ready to be poured into the cups. R' Shlomo would greet me warmly, tell me to sit down, and ask me what I would like to drink. He would then prepare us both a drink.

"At first I used to refuse adamantly, informing him that this was my job and not his, but he would firmly reply that it was not so. `I remained at home learning,' he would say, `while you, Feigeleh, were bustling around collecting money for the needy. Therefore you must sit down and allow me to pour you a drink.'"

Chazal tell us, "When Shmuel HaKoton died he took with him all the desirable qualities in the world" (Semochos 8). Many men, even great and exceptional ones, excel in one area only. Few are perfect in all desirable qualities. R' Shlomo was well known for his profundity in the study of gemora and rishonim; for his expertise in instilling in his talmidim an understanding and love for learning Torah; for his consideration towards all; and for his amiable, gentle behavior. This adam hasholeim, who had scaled the pinnacle of human perfection, was therefore cherished by all.

Origins and Youth

His father, R' Michel, was no famous rav; he was a layman. Yet, although he was in business, he was incredibly assiduous about his Torah studies. This dedication to Torah filled R' Shlomo 's entire soul and buttressed him against the many seemingly insurmountable obstacles he had to hurtle in his struggle towards greatness.

R' Shlomo was born in Paritz, in the Minsk area of White Russia, in 5652 (1891). He was physically weak, and suffered from acute stomach pains his entire life. Dr. Schevad, a famous gastroenterologist in Vilna, who examined R' Shlomo and was aware of his tormenting cramps, was amazed to see how healthy R' Shlomo appeared on the outside, constantly displaying a shining countenance. The astonished doctor asked him to explain this wonder. R' Shlomo promptly answered that the pleasure he derived from learning Torah maintained his good appearance. We can only imagine the magnitude of pleasure he gained from his Torah learning if it was enough to change his whole external appearance.

Chovos Halevovos defines a porush as "one who mourns internally, while externally there is joy on his face." No one could ever discern on R' Shlomo's face any hint that he was suffering. A stranger typically thought that materially he was the most fortunate person in the world. The truth, though, was far from so. Besides his suffering due to gastric problems, R' Shlomo was stricken with poverty his whole life; he was forced into serving in the Russian army for a short period; his marriage was childless; and eventually he died of stomach cancer at the age of 52, in the prime of his most fruitful period in life.

In order to train himself to arrive at the truth in his Torah learning, R' Shlomo used to learn one responsum of R' Akiva Eiger each day during his youth. In the writings of R' Akiva Eiger, whom he called his "second Rebbe," everything can be found — depth, logical thinking, and new insights. The young Shlomo's devotion to his studies, his self training, and his remarkable talents soon showed their effects upon him. "Genius," Albert Einstein once said, "is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration." Young Shlomo excelled both in inspiration and in exertion. His efforts did not take long to bear their fruit.

HaRav Boruch Ber Leibovitz

Kaminetz Yeshiva — HaRav Boruch Ber Leibovitz

At the unusually young age of twelve, the child prodigy, dressed in ragged pants and carrying all his worldly belongings (three slices of hard bread), travelled to the renowned yeshiva of Kaminetz, where HaRav Boruch Ber Leibovitz zt'l was rosh yeshiva. He was not accepted on first sight. On the contrary, he was straightaway refused admittance.

At that time, the custom for a prospective student for Yeshivas Kaminetz was to debate a Torah topic with R' Boruch Ber, who would test him rigorously to see if he met Kaminetz's high standards. It so happened that at the time of the young Shlomo's arrival, the Rosh Yeshiva was out of town for a few days, and in his absence he appointed one of his most outstanding students to test and decide on accepting new students.

When this person saw little Shlomo he could not believe his eyes. He curtly advised him: "You should go to study in a cheder, or perhaps a yeshiva ketana, but not in a yeshiva for experienced scholars. What can you possibly achieve in a yeshiva? I cannot accept you."

"Maybe I should wait until R' Boruch Ber arrives?" asked Shlomo.

"No," was the blunt reply, "there is nothing for you to wait for. You may go back home!"

Except for his three slices of bread, Shlomo had no means of sustenance. He came from a poor family, and that was the very most they could give him. Nevertheless, despite being assured that he would not be accepted, and despite the meagerness of his means of survival, he decided to wait for R' Boruch Ber. He slept on a hard bench at night and during the day he learned in the yeshiva. Each day he ate one piece of bread and quenched his thirst with water. That was all he had.

After three days the Rosh Yeshiva arrived. Shlomo went over to R' Boruch Ber and asked to be tested. R' Boruch Ber agreed! The Rosh Yeshiva soon perceived young Shlomo's quick and straight thinking and his capability to deeply analyze the gemora. At the end of his test he was accepted in the yeshiva.

The young man who had initially turned R' Shlomo down later expressed deep regret for his action. "Imagine!" he said. "I could have been responsible for R' Shlomo not becoming a godol beYisroel."

The Russian army later conscripted R' Shlomo, but fortunately his service lasted only for a short while. During this period he did not waste his time; he learned masechta Kesuvos intensively from beginning to end, while stationed in a ditch on the front lines!

Many years later, when Rebbe Shlomo was delivering his shiur klali at Ramailless Yeshiva in Vilna, HaRav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz zt"l (formerly rosh yeshiva of the Ponovezh Yeshiva Ketana in Bnei Brak) heard how R' Shlomo emphasized the need to aspire to greatness. As an example he mentioned that his own rebbe, R' Boruch Ber, once said "How did I become R' Boruch Ber? Only because I originally wanted to be R' Akiva Eiger; that was my aspiration. I did not become a R' Akiva Eiger, but I became R' Boruch Ber. If I had aspired merely to be a R' Boruch Ber nothing would have come of me."

Excellence in Torah depends on an unrelenting search for truth. This search should continue even in a case where one's honor might possibly be impugned. This lesson, too, he learned from his rebbe, R' Boruch Ber, and in fact, he himself was the one who caused R' Boruch Ber to demonstrate it!

It was back in Kaminetz, and R' Boruch Ber had just delivered a shiur based on an approach that he heard from his own rebbe, HaRav Chaim Soloveitchik. Young Shlomo disputed the correctness of the approach itself, and, after hearing his arguments, R' Boruch Ber could not think of any way of reconciling the difficulty. He stopped his shiur then and there, ordered a horse and buggy, and immediately set out for Brisk to consult R' Chaim Soloveitchik.

When he arrived, R' Boruch Ber explained that this unexpected visit came about because, while he was saying a shiur using his rebbe's approach, his student Shlomo had refuted it. R' Chaim requested to have the shiur repeated over, and when he had heard it, he remarked, "A rosh yeshiva can do better than that." He then told R' Boruch Ber how to convey the concept better and explain it more correctly.

R' Boruch Ber then returned to Kaminetz, but instead of going to his home he immediately entered the yeshiva and gathered his students together. "We are now going to continue the shiur," he announced. Without a trace of embarrassment R' Boruch Ber told the students that, when first giving the shiur he had no suitable answer to R' Shlomo's question, and so he had gone to ask R' Chaim how to reconcile the difficulty. He also told them R' Chaim had told him that a rosh yeshiva could give his lessons in a better manner. Now that he understood R' Chaim's approach better he would repeat the shiur, and this time it would be apparent that there were no difficulties.

Only a true seeker of understanding and a genuinely humble person would act in such a way.

R' Boruch Ber cherished his student R' Shlomo. He once said, "When R' Shlomo opens his mouth es vert lichtig in kup (a light comes on everyone's head)."

HaRav Shmuel Greineman, then the menahel of Mesivta Tiferes Yerushalaim, wrote after R' Shlomo's shloshim that R' Boruch Ber's students described their Rebbe's enthusiasm over a line of R' Shlomo's logic. R' Boruch Ber used to claim of such occasions that R' Shlomo's mother's and even his grandmother's birth pangs were clearly worthwhile in order to have such a son and grandson (Der Yiddishe Shtima, Teves, 5705/Jan. 1945).

In a similar vein, when R' Boruch Ber wrote to R' Shlomo (winter of 5698/1937) regretting his inability to give a letter of recommendation for Mesivta Torah Vodaas's building fund, he added that his own birth and the birth pangs of his mother were worthwhile to be zoche to produce such a student like R' Shlomo.


At the age of twenty-six — in 5678/1917, in the middle of W.W. I — R' Shlomo married Feiga Rudensky, daughter of R' Yochanan Rudensky ben HaRav Avrohom, a dayan in Brisk. Her uncles were gedolei olam: R' Simchah Zelig of Brisk, R' Nechemia the Av Beis Din of Butkov, and R' Eliezer Yitzchok the great sage of Krementchug.

Soon after marriage HaRav Heiman was appointed by R' Boruch Ber to be the rosh yeshiva of the Kaminetz Yeshiva, after its second evacuation, from Slobodka to Krementchug. When he was forced to leave the town because of the Bolsheviks, the Chofetz Chaim asked him to say shiurim in the Radin Yeshiva, which was then lodging in Smilovitz with R' Elchonon Wassermann acting as rosh yeshiva.

Baranovitch and HaRav Elchonon Wassermann

After the war, Jewish life in Europe took several years to recover. In 5683/1922 R' Elchonon opened his Yeshivas Ohel Torah in Baranovitch, and right away requested R' Shlomo Heiman to teach the shiur directly below his own.

Although R' Shlomo had been one of the top students in the Kaminetz Yeshiva, there was a period during the turmoil of the War and its aftermath when he held no rabbinical position. Before his appointment as a maggid shiur in Baranovitch the Heimans had no means of sustenance. Rebbetzin Feiga asked the question found in parshas Bechukosai: "What will we eat?"

R' Shlomo answered: "You are right to ask that. I obligated myself in the kesuvah to support you, so now I will look for a job."

Coming as she did from a family of rabbonim, Feiga retorted with what, to her, was obvious: "Become a rav!"

R' Shlomo replied, "But one must know how."

His wife Feiga answered, "What is so hard about knowing how? There is a principle that where there is a doubt over ruling on a Torah law (sofek deOraisa) we rule stringently, whereas if it is only a doubt about a rabbinical decree (sofek derabbonon) we rule leniently." With this Feiga passed on to him what she saw as the key to ruling sheilos!

But R' Shlomo was not satisfied with this piece of wisdom: "Feigeleh, Feigeleh, with one Talmudic hypothesis (mit ein shtikel Torah) I can turn every sofek deOraisa into a derabbonon, and with another I can convert every sofek derabbonon to a deOraisa!"

A week later, R' Shlomo came home joyously, reporting to his wife that he had good news for her. R' Elchonon Wassermann had asked him to teach the second highest shiur in Baranovitch. Feiga was enormously pleased with her husband's opportunity to teach Torah, but she also asked him: "What were the working conditions R' Elchonon offered you?"

Her husband was surprised. "The working conditions? Well . . . he told me what shiur I will be saying, when to come to the yeshiva to say the shiur, and when to discuss the material with the students and review the shiur with them."

Feiga replied, "No, I meant what about your salary?"

"Ah. . . that I forgot to ask him."

But the Rebbetzin had a solution. "R' Shlomo, you go to the yeshiva and say your shiur; I myself will go to R' Elchonon and discuss the financial side with him."

R' Elchonon Wassermann

Feiga went over to R' Elchonon, thanked him for honoring her husband with saying a shiur in his yeshiva, and concluded by asking about his salary.

R' Elchonon answered that R' Shlomo would not receive less than he himself got. Overjoyed, Feiga thanked the Rosh Yeshiva and returned home. Imagine, her husband would not receive less than the Rosh Yeshiva himself!

But a week went by, and another, a month, and then another month, without any sign of money. Instead of wasting her time talking to R' Shlomo about such matters, Feiga went straight to R' Elchonon.

She asked him bluntly, "You are the last person in the world that I would suspect of not fulfilling his word."

R' Elchonon (startled): "But when did I not fulfill my word?"

"You promised that R' Shlomo would not receive a salary any less than your own."

R' Elchonon replied, "That is true, of course; but I also have not received any salary all this time."

Rebbetzin Feiga had simply not known much about Baranovitch, a town of which R' Elchonon himself once said, mimicking the gemora, "Ten kabin of poverty descended into the world, and nine of them Baranovitch took." However, before the horrified Rebbetzin could get her breath back, R' Elchonon continued, "Do not worry. From now on R' Shlomo will receive a salary regularly."

And from then on R' Shlomo received a steady salary from Yeshivas Baranovitch, though it was not an "overly lavish" one, as was only natural given the circumstances.

R' Heiman learnt chavrusa with R' Elchonon Wassermann in his house, each day from two to five in the afternoon. One day, after they finished learning together, R' Elchonon told R' Shlomo that the next day he would be traveling to Warsaw at four o'clock. R' Shlomo understood that they would therefore not be able to learn, since R' Elchonon would have preparations to make for the trip, and therefore he did not appear the next day at R' Elchonon's house.

The following day, when R' Shlomo appeared at the usual time, R' Elchonon asked him where he had been the previous day and why he did not come to learn chavrusa. R' Shlomo answered that he had understood that R' Elchonon would have to prepare himself for the trip and could not learn with him. "What?" cried R' Elchonon in reprimand. "I could have started preparing at ten to four, and until that time we would have been able to learn." Every minute was precious for R' Elchonon; no time could be wasted, and all matters besides Torah must be done in the minimum amount of time possible.

In the introduction to the sefer of HaRav Heiman's chidushei Torah, Chidushei R' Shlomo, HaRav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz portrays HaRav Heiman's devotion to his students and how he guided them to become Torah scholars: "It was a splendid scene to see how he would argue over Torah topics with his students. When he was a rosh yeshiva in Baranovitch, a large group of students used to gather around him before Ma'ariv, discussing the subjects raised in that day's shiur with him. Until late at night he would be seen [in the beis medrash] reviewing and explaining points brought up as a result of his shiur. He never declined to answer a student who wished to clarify a sugya even if he was exhausted.

"During these Torah discussions his affection for his students would be revealed. When a student would propose an approach founded on correct logic, R' Shlomo would review and polish it until its new form was practically incomparable to the original. He would present what this student had said to other students, pointing out its excellence. Our Rebbe inherited this knack of adorning what his students said and showing others how precious it was from his great rebbe, R' Boruch Ber Leibovitz zt'l."

Once HaRav Dan Ungarisher zt"l, rosh yeshivas Beis Medrash Elyon in Monsey, N.Y., a talmid of R' Shlomo Heiman in Torah Vodaas, met an elderly man who had studied in Baranovitch. This was on a bus trip in Eretz Yisroel. After the old man heard from HaRav Ungarisher that he too had learned from R' Shlomo, he praised their common rebbe's pedagogic talents profusely. "He was one who really knew how to develop a student," he said.

It is therefore no wonder that there was a rumor that R' Elchonon Wassermann went to a din Torah against HaRav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky (brothers-in-law through the first marriage) when R' Shlomo's left Baranovitch to become a rosh yeshiva in the Ramailless yeshiva in Vilna that was under R' Chaim Ozer's direction.

Ramailless of Vilna

In the summer of 5687/1927 R' Shlomo was asked by one of the gedolei hador — HaRav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky zt'l — to serve as chief rosh yeshiva in his personal yeshiva, Ramailless of Vilna (named after Reb Mailless, who donated the building and courtyard).

When R' Shlomo was rosh yeshiva of Ramailless he visited R' Chaim Ozer frequently. Whenever R' Chaim Ozer would spot him, even if the house was full of rabbonim and gedolei Torah, he would excuse himself, stand up, and hug him. He would then retire with him to another room to discuss Torah subjects with him.

There was little food in the yeshiva, and on Sundays there was not even bread to eat. R' Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz, who attended R' Shlomo's shiur in Ramailless regularly, said that the general condition in yeshivos was so bad in those days that the yeshivos advertised in the newspapers, advising new students not to come. In the Mirrer Yeshiva bochurim would often faint from hunger in the middle of the learning session. Nowadays if the air conditioner isn't working so well, there are complaints immediately.

On Shabbos, R' Shlomo would deliver a shiur klali (a shiur for the entire student body, based on general topics), which would also include all that he had said in his blat shiur (where the gemora and rishonim are taught systematically) during the entire week. A prominent rosh yeshiva of that time remarked that if for some reason no shiur klali was said by R' Shlomo on a Shabbos, something was missing that Shabbos, in the yeshiva and in the person himself.

R' Shlomo would always treat his students respectfully. He never used the familiar second person "du" when addressing them. He would never lay down his explanations like the law to his students. He would always ask them, "Vos shteit do — What is going on here? Ich farshteih nisht vos do shteit — I don't understand what is written here!" After showing why it was difficult to comprehend, he would develop the true meaning of the gemora or rishon together with his students until they all concluded that the new explanation must be accepted (Shelucha DeRachmonah, p. 159).

When R' Shlomo decided to move to New York and accept a position in Torah Vodaas, the students were not informed of the true reason for his voyage. This was most likely done in order to spare them as much pain as possible at being separated from their precious mentor. They thought at the time that R' Shlomo was travelling to the U.S.A. for health reasons and would return later.

After the rumor spread in Vilna that he would say shiurim in Yeshivas Torah Vodaas of Williamsburg, one of his best students remarked, "I am afraid that when R' Shlomo says in America that he does not understand a gemora or a Rambam, they may believe him."

That is, in fact, precisely what happened! HaRav Chaim Avrohom Pinkus, who was learning in Torah Vodaas during that period, once told R' Michel Yehuda that it was only much later that the students realized the value of R' Shlomo's shiurim. At first they actually thought he was not saying anything of real worth.

The Search For A Rosh Yeshiva For Torah Vodaas

After the previous rosh yeshiva, HaRav Dovid Leibowitz, left Torah Vodaas to establish Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim, there was a vacuum in the yeshiva. For some two years Torah Vodaas lacked a rosh yeshiva. At the time of R' Dovid's departure, R' Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, the founder and menahel of Torah Vodaas, was recovering from tuberculosis in the mountains at Liberty, New York. He stayed in Liberty for over a year, during which period there was neither a rosh yeshiva nor a menahel in Torah Vodaas.

At first R' Shraga Feivel attempted to bring R' Elchonon Wassermann to Torah Vodaas. He wrote to R' Chaim Ozer to try to influence R' Elchonon, but R' Chaim Ozer replied that he was quite sure R' Elchonon would not leave Baranovitch. A personal representative of R' Shraga Feivel traveled to the Chofetz Chaim with a request to influence his talmid muvhak, but he was likewise unsuccessful. R' Shraga Feivel even wrote to R' Elchonon entreating him to join the yeshiva, but received an answer in the negative. If he left Baranovitch, wrote R' Elchonon, it would surely destroy his own yeshiva, and his success in America was doubtful. Furthermore, he added, yeshivos in America permit secular studies together with Torah studies, which does not agree with our tradition of how to conduct yeshivos (Shelucha DeRachmonah, p. 151).

R' Shlomo's brother-in-law, Rav Arye Leib Rudensky, who was then director of the Kovne Kollel's office in New York, suggested R' Shlomo Heiman to R' Shraga Feivel as a candidate. (At that time R' Shlomo was rosh yeshiva in Ramailless.) R' Shraga Feivel sent a letter to R' Elchonon inquiring about R' Shlomo's capabilities. R' Elchonon replied with an enthusiastic recommendation, writing that it seemed to him that the position suited the candidate, but that since he was the chief rosh yeshiva of Ramailless it would not be easy to find a person to replace him.

Then R' Shraga Feivel wrote to R' Chaim Ozer asking about R' Shlomo. R' Chaim Ozer replied that he was "one of the best roshei yeshivos in the world, a genius in Torah learning, possessing abundant knowledge and deep comprehension. His Torah novellae are straightforward and pleasant, and he does not attempt to make pilpulim. Besides his greatness in Torah learning he is also a genuine yirei Shomayim, crowned with good character traits. He is amiable, and the students are greatly attached to him." R' Chaim Ozer concluded by writing that he must tell the truth: his leaving Ramailless would be difficult for him, R' Chaim Ozer, since it would not be easy to find a replacement like him, "but I must answer the questions posed to me truthfully" (Shelucha DeRachmonah, p. 153).

Letters were written, and R' Chaim Ozer permitted R' Shlomo to leave his yeshiva despite it being a tremendous sacrifice for him. Rav Alexander Lintchner, R' Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz's son-in-law and the founder and director of Kiryat No'ar (Boy's Town) institute in Yerushalaim, was instrumental in bringing R' Shlomo and his wife over to Torah Vodaas.

R' Shlomo at Torah Vodaas

R' Shlomo arrived at Torah Vodaas in 5696/1935, and he remained there until his passing on 17 Kislev, 5705/Dec. 3, 1944. His decision to travel to America before W.W. II actually saved his life, since if he had remained in Vilna he would most probably have been killed by the Germans. (The mashgiach of Ramailless was killed al kiddush Hashem.) His arrival caused a Torah revolution in America. Students flocked to Torah Vodaas to hear shiurim from this Lithuanian godol beTorah.

His discipline of students was always coated with sugar — firm yet soft. He would look at a student and say, "Zog geshmacker," (lit., say it with more taste, i.e., improve the way you are saying it) and it was more than sufficient, since everyone wanted to be close to him. He never became angry at his students; he was a living example of "[The Torah's] ways are the ways of peace" (Mishlei 50:17).

One Shabbos R' Shlomo overheard a student who had received semichoh from him that same week proudly boast that he was now a full-fledged rav. The Rosh Yeshiva called over this "new rav" and asked him a question on a matter in Yoreh De'ah. The student said, "Kosher, proof can be cited from a Shach." R' Shlomo refuted the proof. The student now "ruled" treif. R' Shlomo then reconciled the proof from the Shach and cited a correlating proof from another authority. The student's ruling was now "Kosher." The Rosh Yeshiva continued by stacking up even more counter-proofs to the contrary, and the student now proclaimed, "Undoubtedly treif." This game of treif-kosher, kosher-treif went on for about a half an hour, after which R' Shlomo turned to the student and said: "True, you were ordained a Rav; but if you can change your mind so many times in one half hour, you are not yet ready to answer halachic questions."

An eminent rosh yeshiva told me how gently R' Shlomo once rebuked him when he was a student in Torah Vodaas. He did not sleep in the dormitory, and would take the trolley back home to Manhattan each night. In the morning he traveled back to Torah Vodaas. Commuting can occasionally cause delays, of course, and due to the weather and the trolleys, despite his attempts to come punctually, there were many occasions when he arrived late in the morning.

One winter, due to illness, he was forced to take a short vacation in the mountains to rest up. Upon his return to the yeshiva R' Shlomo Heiman told him that the student who registered attendance had marked him down as late for several days. The student answered that he had not been late; he was absent altogether due to his convalescent stay in the mountains. R' Shlomo answered that he had told the attendance keeper this very thing, but the student had answered, "Even if he were here he would have been late."

Although students generally wish to feel independent, nevertheless they never wanted to leave his blat shiur. They felt that they were attaining a derech halimud and stubbornly remained. Sometimes bochurim stayed four and five years until he had to put them out.

Rav Alexander Lintchner points out R' Shlomo's talent as a pedagogue par excellence. He was not satisfied just to say his shiur and then go home; he would maintain a careful watch to make sure that his students were growing in Torah learning and yiras Shomayim. Late every night he would pop into the beis medrash to look around and see what was going on. Many bochurim naturally wanted R' Shlomo to see them staying up, and thus in the course of time they became real masmidim.

His shiur did not end when he walked away from the shtender. After the shiur the atmosphere was still electric; bochurim were debated and analyzed intensely what their rosh yeshiva was trying to teach them.

Once in the middle of a shiur he remarked that he imagined that R' Akiva Eiger used to learn and learn and learn until he was exhausted, and then since he was only human, he would have to rest. When he lacked the strength to learn because he was hungry he would have no choice but to take a bite. "Today things are different! A person sits himself down to eat, talks at length to others, and reads the daily newspaper from beginning to end. If he has nothing left to do after that — he will start learning."

At that time a student called R' Yosef HaLevi Levitan, who later became a notable maggid shiur in Torah Vodaas, was learning in the yeshiva. R' Yosef's diligence was incredible; he was constantly engrossed in his learning and would go to sleep only at three in the morning. Every year he would study two large masechtos and one small one intensively — altogether almost three hundred blat — and leave his gemoras full of notes in the margins. Now, R' Shlomo had a room near the beis medrash so that his students could discuss their difficulties in learning with him. R' Yosef, being close to the Rosh Yeshiva, would spend from an hour and a half to two hours each day speaking with him about Talmudic difficulties in this room.

The Thursday after the Rosh Yeshiva's demise, R' Yosef was learning chavrusa with R' Moshe Yechezkel Samuels. While engrossed in a sugya in Kiddushin 51a, they encountered an unsurmountable obstacle; they could not reconcile the kushya. What should they do? they wondered. The Rebbe was no longer living and they had to try to understand the gemora on their own. They slaved over the difficulty all Thursday morning and afternoon, and until late that night, but without any success. The same labor of love went on Friday morning and afternoon, and late into Shabbos night. During the morning after the Shabbos meal, R' Yosef's mother saw how he was lacking sleep and begged him to rest a little before returning to the yeshiva. He obeyed his mother and laid himself down to sleep.

After a while he woke up abruptly, very much excited. R' Yosef went right away to the yeshiva and called over his chavrusa. He excitedly told R' Moshe Yechezkel that R' Shlomo had appeared to him in a dream and told him he knew he was exerting himself on that specific sugya and should study the Chidushei HaRitvo of another tractate altogether. They immediately took out the sefer and saw their kushya explicitly mentioned, with the long awaited answer to the difficulty.

An eminent mashgiach pointed out that it is written in the seforim hakedoshim that during the first week after a person's death he is usually not allowed to descend to this world even for an important mission. R' Shlomo, however, was allowed to come to his devoted talmid. This shows that if a talmid is strongly connected to his rosh yeshiva while he is living, then the rosh yeshiva remains tied to him even after his death.

End of Part I


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