A moving and important story from a veteran educator. The
lesson is good for all times, and certainly for these three
I heard this anecdote from the firsthand testimony of
someone who went through it all and permitted me to publish
A boy went out on a shidduch and from the first
moment he saw the girl, he decided she was not for him. He
did not know what to say to her and so ended up remaining
quiet the whole time, not uttering a word. The girl felt
embarrassed and humiliated by the incident. The boy too was
disturbed by the whole business, but time passed and he
forgot about it altogether.
Over the next few years many girls were suggested to him as
prospective brides. He met quite a few of them and sometimes
he almost became a chosson, but at the last minute
something always happened and things did not work out. This
depressed him immensely but he could not find any solution
to his problem of getting married.
Almost as a last resort he thought of going to see Maran
HaRav Yaakov Yisroel Kanievsky ztvk'l, the Steipler
Rov, from whom many brokenhearted people found comfort and
good advice. He wrote a note on a piece of paper (the
Steipler Rov was hard of hearing) explaining that he was
suffering greatly and did not know what kitrug there
was in Shomayim about him. He requested a
brochoh to find a proper shidduch soon.
When he went in, Maran ztvk'l momentarily raised his
head from his studies, read the note, and shouted: "I cannot
give you a brochoh. Hashem yeracheim!" Then he
continued studying as if no one was sitting before him.
Fear seized the young man. He stood there, not knowing what
sins he had done. Why did such a middas hadin hover
over him? He repeated his request for rachamim but
the Rov again raised his voice: "I cannot give you a
brochoh. Hashem yeracheim!"
The boy did not give up, and sent an eminent talmid
chochom to entreat the Steipler Rov to "give a young man
a brochoh," without telling the shaliach that
he had already been once to the Steipler about the same
matter. The Rav looked once at the name and immediately
said: "I already told him that I cannot give him a
brochoh. Hashem yeracheim."
Several months later a baal teshuvah requested that
this young man accompany him to Maran ztvk'l to
receive a brochoh. The baal teshuvah wrote a
note for the Rov and the boy added in small letters his name
and his mother's name for a brochoh. He was afraid to
enter the Rov's room, so he remained outside. He heard the
many brochos the Rov gave the baal teshuvah,
but when the Steipler Rov saw his own name on the note he
shouted out: "He is here again? I already told him I cannot
give him a brochoh. Hashem yeracheim."
The young man heard all this while standing outside.
He saw that some sort of a keloloh was resting on him
and this whole affair was not simple at all. He
davened to HaKodosh Boruch Hu and cried out to
Him to reveal why this was happening to him. His rosh
yeshiva was frightened by his crying and asked: "What
does Hashem want from you? Something is utterly strange."
Suddenly Hashem opened his eyes and he remembered how he had
caused anguish to that girl he had once met. He did not have
any doubt that this was the reason for the Divine
disapproval. The same day he found out the girl's phone
number, and with fear and trepidation he called her up. As
soon as he told her his name she yelled at him: "What do you
want from me? Do you want to embarrass me again?"
He answered, "Chas vesholom. I have an important
matter to talk over with you and all I request is a few
They set a time and the boy arrived there and asked her
forgiveness for how he had acted during their meeting. He
cried bitterly and told her all the terrible sorrows he had
experienced because of that. She also cried. Then she
promised him that she was mochel and solei'ach
with her whole heart.
Anyone could clearly feel the Divine intervention in all
these acts -- that the world is not hefker. Although
the young man did not intend to cause her any sorrow, the
gemora (Chagigah 4a) writes on the
posuk, "For Elokim shall bring every work into
judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or
whether it be evil" (Koheles 12:14), that even if
someone harms another unintentionally he needs
kaporoh and mechilah (also see the Beis
HaLevi, parshas Vayishlach, which discusses this matter
I will cite the end of the story as the person himself told
"I returned home immaculately clean of sin, purified from
the terrible accusation of embarrassing a Jew. I felt a
closeness to HaKodosh Boruch Hu that I had not felt
for a long time. I felt as if I was returning home after a
long hospitalization, from an extended imprisonment. Another
world greeted me.
"Amazingly, I quickly became my old self. With renewed
strength I studied Torah and had tremendous siyata
deShmaya. At that time a kiruv organization
contacted me and asked me to help them conduct a seminar for
baalei teshuvah. I engrossed myself entirely in this
organization, and boruch Hashem the seminar was
successful. While working on that seminar a fellow worker
suggested a shidduch for me.
"The meetings progressed well, but before making the final
step I wanted the brochoh of the Steipler Rov.
Although I was frightened that the Rov would again refuse to
give me a brochoh, I decided to try anyway. I was
looking for a sign from Shomayim that my sin had been
atoned. I contacted a household member of Maran
ztvk'l and he urged me to come immediately. When I
arrived I told him that I was in mortal dread to enter the
Rov's room and asked him to mention my name and that of my
mother to the Rov and I would wait outside. He refused and
actually forced me into the room. `He wants a brochoh
for a shidduch,' he called out loudly, and did not
add any other details. I trembled terribly and feared the
Rov would again rebuke me.
"When he heard my name his eyes lit up. His face beamed with
pleasure and he said, `Hashem will help you. The
zivug will be successful. May it be a binyan adei
ad.' He continued looking at me with special kindliness
"That same week HaKodosh Boruch Hu removed my chains.
I was zocheh to become engaged to the woman with whom
I later built a bayis ne'eman beYisroel.
"Much time has passed since then, and in those years many
people have come to me with broken hearts to ask for advice
and encouragement. In recent years I have talked extensively
with dozens of people. A thought entered my mind: Who knows
if I did not undergo what I did so that I would better
understand the sorrows of others?
"Today I serve as an advisor for those who have social
difficulties and are in dire need of help. Daily I come in
contact with difficult problems, with those who are
suffering from middas hadin, with people who are
sinking in their troubles with no obvious solution.
"HaKodosh Boruch Hu brought many tragic cases to me
where, strangely, the person could not find a
shidduch. On certain occasions I told my story to
these people. I told them: `Perhaps you have a neighbor or
brother, an acquaintance or old friend, who feels you have
treated him improperly?' Usually these people initially do
not think they have anyone who has anything against them.
When, however, they think about it HaKodosh Boruch Hu
helps them remember a certain instance.
"Many others have gone through the same thing that I did.
When they find the person they hurt and ask forgiveness from
him they immediately see a change in their situation. It is
as if the bitter gezeiroh has been removed. Actually
a person should realize by himself that he must humble
himself and ask forgiveness, but if he does not, Heaven
forces him to ask forgiveness either in writing or
"This is the reason why I decided to tell my story publicly.
Jews visit graves of tzaddikim and try to change
their lot with segulos. Some accept on themselves
acts that will increase their zechuyos. One should
know -- and from my own bitter experience I am saying this --
that perhaps the reason why he is not being saved is that
once he insulted or harmed another person. He should at
least beseech Hashem to open his eyes so he will know whom
he should appease.
"We of course cannot know the exact reason for our
predicament. Other faults are also liable to cause a delay
in the coming of our salvation, but relations between people
are the first matter to make a kitrug, and who can be
sure he has always acted properly?
"I therefore want to tell everyone: Be careful. Act wisely,
before you make a mistake and hurt another person and then
suffer because of it. Hurting someone is like playing with
fire! The injured honor of another person: a brother, a
friend, and surely a parent or educator, demands to be
restored. It does not help that you have long ago forgotten
about it. The tears of another person are never forgotten.
Within the yeshivos boys are liable to insult each other
slightly. I myself know of more than one pillowcase that was
wet at night because a boy was put to shame.
"Let us prepare for ourselves a happy future. Let us be
careful with regard to how we treat others. When we are
angry let us restrain ourselves with all our might. Let the
other person think he is right. We will not humble him, not
embarrass him, and not argue with him. We will insure that
our lives are pure, without sin, and in this way we will,
with Hashem's help, have good and sweet lives."
May it be Hashem's will that we correct our middos.
By the zechus of improving our character traits the
Merciful Father will save us from difficult times and
fulfill our requests for yeshu'oh and
rachamim, measure for measure.