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4 Menachem Av 5773 - July 11, 2013 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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The Arugas Habosem HaRav Moshe Grunwald, zt'l, rov of Chust

In honor of his yahrtzeit, 7 Av, 5670

Anyone who has heard of the Chuster Rov, has certainly heard of his great hasmodoh. Nothing would distract him from his learning. Even matters of great importance had to wait until Rabbenu closed his sefer.

Once, he went to the Kedushas Yom Tov zt"l and arrived during the Rebbe's shiur.

The talmidim of the Kedushas Yom Tov took no notice of the entry of the Arugas Habosem, for their Rebbe would never interrupt a shiur, simply because he rarely saw what went on around him when he was teaching or learning.

This time however, to their surprise, the Kedushas Yom Tov sensed the presence of the Chuster Rov. Without a word, he stopped the shiur and ran hurriedly towards the Arugas Habosem. For the following half-hour, the talmidim were left to wonder while the two great leaders were secluded in the next room. Subsequently, the Kedushas Yom Tov returned, and immediately the shiur resumed as though there had been no interruption. Once the shiur was over, the Kedushas Yom Tov took a few moments to explain.

"You are probably all wondering why I diverged from my usual habit of not letting anything disturb the shiur. I'll reveal the reason: As we all know, the Arugas Habosem never stops while he is learning, whether alone or with talmidim. Seeing that he came into the beis medrash during a shiur, I understood that this must be a matter of extreme pikuach nefesh that cannot be pushed off. Indeed I was correct."

When Rav Moshe was just a bochur of fifteen, a fire broke out not far from his home on erev Pesach. Since the house was a poor wooden structure, there was a danger that if the flames spread, it would start a big blaze. Alert neighbors quickly helped to remove valuables and anything that could be saved from the house, in case there would be damage before help arrived.

Rabbeinu, who was the eldest, was fasting the Taanis Bechorim and had gone into a room to learn, unaware of the peril. His pious grandmother seemed to know best. Standing with a Tehillim in her hands, she placated everyone. "I am sure that my grandson and the house in which he learns so much Torah day and night will come to no harm."

And so it was. The flames were brought under control before they managed to reach the Grunwald home.


With his fiery droshos, the Chuster Rov drew many back to teshuvoh and mitzvos. HaRav Shmuel Engel zt"l of Radomishle, once related an incident that took place in the town of Gorlitz.

When the Chuster Rov had to stay in Gorlitz over Shabbos, the kehilloh asked him to speak after the davening. The shul was packed to capacity, not only with the town's residents, but also with merchants who were passing through on business.

In his droshoh, Rabbenu described the wily ways of the yetzer hora, how at first he persuades a person to transgress a "small" aveiroh and slowly leads him on to greater sins. "The evil yetzer tells the merchant who missed the first minyan not to wait for the second one, for doing so would cause him to miss his train. In this way the Yid becomes accustomed to davening without a minyan. Next, he convinces him it's too late to don his Rabbeinu Tam tefillin — until eventually the man stops davening and putting on tefillin completely.

"It's the same with kashrus," continued the Rov. "First he tells you that if the food is cold, one can be less stringent. Then a drop of milk in a coffee is botul beshishim, and then he leads him to drink cholov akum. He drags his victim into a downward spiral until he eats neveilos and treifos."

Recounted the Rov of Radomishle: "Everyone was deeply stirred by the Rov of Chust's words, and his speech was the topic of discussion of all the merchants. I, however, was at a loss to understand why the Rov went into every small detail of the evil inclination's trickery. Motzei Shabbos I was talking in learning with our esteemed guest, when a well- to-do businessman came in and burst into bitter tears. `Rabbi,' he exclaimed, `Today in your drosho you followed up exactly how I was caught and ensnared by the yetzer hora. How I fell ever deeper into his net. Just as the Rebbe said, that's how it began and that's how it continued. Please help me return now to the correct path.'

"Now I understood," concluded the Rov of Radomishle, "how the Rov's words and every detailed description was placed into his mouth so that his listeners would be brought to repentance."


Indeed, Rabbenu's perceptiveness saw through people's actions to their intentions, too.

Once, while traveling with several talmidim, they reached a train station when it was time for Shacharis. They decided to form a minyan then and there. As a tenth man, they found a Jew who had also arrived just then. The latter, however, had no tallis and tefillin. Following the tefilloh the Rov commented, "He's probably here to arrange a visa to America."

Curious to know if his Rebbe was correct, one of the talmidim struck up a conversation with the gentleman. In the course of their talk, it came out that the man was indeed waiting for an entry visa to America.

"Does the Rebbe have ruach hakodesh?" wondered the talmid.

Rabbeinu's reply showed his keen insight. "I just recognized the tactics of the yetzer hora. I know that as soon as a Jew plans to live in America, the yetzer persuades him that in the Goldene Medina there's no need for tallis and tefillin."


Rabbenu was at the forefront of the battle against the Jewish "enlightenment." Many Jews tried to "adapt" to the gentile surroundings, speaking their language and dressing alike so that they would blend in.

At every opportunity, he would exhort people not to speak the language of the goyim. "In the zchus of keeping our tongue holy, we were saved from Mitzrayim and it is only this merit that will bring us out of our present golus," he would declare.

Once at a dedication ceremony of a new school, Rabbenu had to give a speech in honor of the Minister of Education in German. For several days afterward, Rabbenu was absent from the Yeshiva and gave no shiur. Upon going to his home, his talmidim found Rav Moshe sitting and crying.

"A few days ago, I defiled my mouth by giving a speech in German. How can I now learn Toras Hashem with impressionable bochurim with sullied lips?"

On another occasion, on the first day of Selichos, Rabbeinu was seen going to the mikveh after Shacharis, although he had gone earlier. His reason: During his Selichos droshoh, the Rav had to say some words in German so that the women and children should understand, too. As a result he felt the need to cleanse himself again.

His talmidim maintained that anytime someone who was affiliated with the modernized Jews would come to him, he would run to the mikveh as soon as the man had left, so as not to be influenced.


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