Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

3 Cheshvan 5763 - October 9, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

Translated from the new work in Hebrew, Oleinu Leshabeiach, whose first volume has just been published. Written by Hagaon R' Yitzchok Zilberstein shlita, Rov of Ramat Elchanan in Bnei Brak, it is similar to its predecessor, Tuvcha Yabiyu, and contains hundreds of as yet unfamiliar inspiring stories of our contemporary Torah leaders. Simple enough and most worthwhile reading even for Hebrew- second-languagers. Certainly a work to have in the house for young and old!

Blessed is His Grandmother

The young members of Kollel Beis Dovid in Holon were surprised one morning to find an older woman trundling a baby carriage right into the beis midrash. In answer to their questioning looks, she explained,

"I lost my children to Yiddishkeit many years ago. They have abandoned the Torah way of life and I have no nachas from them. I hope that I can still save my young grandson and have him grow up to be a proper Jew."


Actually, this woman was following the example of the mother of R' Yehoshua ben Chananya, who brought her son's cradle to the beis midrash from early infancy so that he absorb the holy atmosphere into his very pores. Even during her pregnancy, she would pass by botei midrash and ask the scholars there to pray for her unborn child. She was crowned for her efforts, first with success, and secondly, with the title, "Ashrei yoladto -- Fortunate is the one who bore him."


The members of the Kollel agreed to accept their new member even without a stipend from the Religions Ministry...

The grandmother exhibited determination and perseverence and often brought treats for the scholars, asking that they pray that her grandson grow to Torah and good deeds. And indeed, this child developed into a child prodigy, who is destined for a glowing future in Torah.


"I'd like to tell the following about my mother-in-law, the righteous Rebbetzin Elyashiv z'l," says the author, "regarding sufficiency with bare essentials."

Needless to say that their house possessed nothing one could label unnecessary, to say nothing of luxuries. The great numbers of Jews who visited this home over the years to present their halachic questions saw this with their own eyes. Few, however, were aware that the Rebbetzin owned only one dress which she wore to all special occasions, including her children's weddings. The family once suggested that she buy a new dress but she firmly declined, explaining, "Everyone knows me by that one dress. If I wore something else, they wouldn't recognize me."

She possessed no jewelry, either. Her only adornment was her tear-stained siddur, which she bequeathed to her family. She did not even possess a washing machine; she did all her laundry by hand!

Prime Primus

Rebbetzin Elyashiv was her husband's right-hand person. Few people knew that she got up every morning at 3 a.m. together with R' Elyashiv (yl'a) to prepare his morning cup of coffee. She used to do this on the ancient primus burner she had, which took a long time to heat the water.

Her children repeatedly asked their mother why she didn't buy herself a thermos in which she could store the hot water and have it ready on the table for the Rov to help himself. Then she could continue to sleep until morning.

Her reply is worth repeating to a generation that is accustomed to pampering itself with conveniences. "I would not forego this holy service," she would say. "My very existence hinges on this work of tending to a great talmid chochom like your father. It vitalizes me. It grants me holiness and the bounty of spiritual pleasure which I would never gain from preparing the water in a thermos the night before, as you suggest, my dear daughters!"

This is also why she refused to relinquish this service to anyone else but continued, until her advanced age, to serve her great husband in this manner, rising at the same time he did, and preparing, with her own hands, his before-morning cup of coffee.

What Bothered the Rebbetzin?

The mother of the Chazon Ish ztvk'l, Rebbetzin Reisha Leah Karelitz z'l, had the privilege of producing sons who all became / and daughters who married / outstanding, Torah scholars. Her stringency in modest attire was legendary. Her daughter, Rebbetzin Miriam Kanievsky z'l, wife of the late Maran the Steipler Rov ztzv'l, also used to say that if one wished to merit sons who were great in Torah, one had to be careful to cover one's entire arms' length with a proper sleeve.

She once returned home from shul very perturbed, complaining that she had been unable to concentrate upon her prayers that day due to disturbances.

What had happened? Apparently, one of the women there had not worn proper sleeves. While these may have covered the elbow in one position, the rebbetzin had been afraid that the woman might lift or shift her arm and reveal forbidden flesh. Because of this fear, she had been uneasy all the while, and incapable of concentrating as she always did.

Indeed, it was not for naught that such a woman was rewarded with such remarkable children!


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