Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

Window into the Chareidi World

15 Iyar 5773 - April 25, 2013 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










Produced and housed by











HaRav Hakodosh R' Yeshaya Steiner of Kerestier

In honor of his yahrtzeit, 3 Iyar (5585)

Whenever he signed his name, Rabbi Yeshaya would add: Servant of the holy Rov of Liska, zt"l.

When at the age of three R' Yeshaya was orphaned of his father, his mother brought him up single-handedly as best she could. As soon as he had grown a little older, she sent him to learn the Torah and its ways under the protective guidance of R' Hershele of Liska zt"l.

The young orphan's potential was not lost on R' Hershele and he decided this would best be developed by the dayan of Semiahl.

As R' Yeshaya sat and learnt in Semiahl, word spread that the newcomer was a bochur whose prayers were always answered. Jews of the city would enter the yeshiva, seek out R' Yeshaya in his corner and ask him to daven for an ill person or other yeshua.

Even businessmen would request his blessing and tefilloh before finishing a deal — this from a young bochur.

After a few years, when R' Yeshaya returned to Liska, R' Hershele brought him into his home as one of the family. R' Yeshaya now had the opportunity to follow his rebbe's every step closely. In keeping with the ma'amar chazal, "Gedoloh shimushoh yoser milimudoh," he became the attendant of R' Hershele, never leaving his presence. Each nuance of R' Hershele was observed and then emulated, as he served him with every fiber of his being. Thus he would forever humbly consider himself the servant of R' Hershele, as though to say, my only worth is that I attended my great Rebbe, zt"l.


Following R' Hershele Liska's petiroh, R' Yeshaya, feeling he still needed a rov, set off for Zanz where he planned to take shelter under the wing of the Divrei Chaim zt"l. The Zanzer however, recognizing his true worth, accorded him great respect.

It was the Divrei Chaim's practice to invite some rabbonim and talmidei chachomim home with him after ma'ariv to join him for his meal, where they would feast on the delights of the Torah. The day that R' Yeshaya arrived in Zanz, the Divrei Chaim invited no one but him. Thus, the youngest of them all became the most esteemed.


Rabbi Yeshaya intended to live in Liska after his marriage but he was beset there with many troubles. Upon asking the advice of the Yitav Lev zt"l, he was told to move out of Liska to a nearby town. In the words of the Yitav Lev, "You can find parnossoh at the top of the mountain."

He settled in Kerestier, where his hilltop home became a focal point for the many who came to learn, be guided and to bask in his presence.

Rabbeinu had an open-house policy wherein everyone, without exception, was welcome. His Rebbetzin would devotedly cook and serve every wayfarer, the poor — all those who came to see the Rabbi. In her later years, despite her failing health, she would continue with what she saw as her holy avodoh. With a dampened kerchief round her head to still her constant headaches, she would stand, cook and serve as always.

The majority of her guests were not distinguished gentlemen, but the destitute, the bedraggled, the dirty tramps off the streets whom no one else would take in.

After R' Yeshaya's passing, it became a seguloh to place a picture of Rabbeinu in a room that was thought to be infested with mice and the rodents would disappear. This seguloh has been tested a number of times and gedolei hador attribute it to the zechus of the Rabbi's extraordinary hachnosas orchim.


R' Yeshaya would donate large sums of money to tzedokoh. In fact, the more money people brought to him, the more he distributed, always ensuring that there was never a single coin left in his possession overnight.

Once on a Thursday night, his righteous Rebbetzin asked him for some money to buy flour, so she could bake challos for Shabbos. Having nothing left to give her, the Rabbi instructed her to buy on credit.

"The storekeeper will refuse to sell me on credit, for I owe him so much already. I am ashamed even to ask," was the reply.

"If so," answered Rabbeinu, "just wait a little. Go warm up some water for drinks and Hashem Yisborach will find us the money."

"Hot water? For whom?" wondered the Rebbetzin aloud.

"Wait and you'll see that Hashem will send us a good messenger."

The woman glanced furtively through the window. Outside a blizzard was raging. Howling winds blew in a strong snowstorm and the mere thought of the biting cold brought a shiver to her bones.

Which living creature would be outdoors on such a night?

Nevertheless, like everyone else, she too believed in her husband unquestioningly, knowing that her promised help would come.

She did not have long to wait. An urgent knocking brought her hurriedly to the door. Together with the roaring wind, a man entered the house, covered with snow and ice crystals and shivering violently.

Immediately, the Rebbetzin served him a warm drink. The stranger gratefully accepted and thawed his frozen hands and feet with some more warm water.

After he had recovered somewhat, he placed a large sum of money from his pocket onto the table and began to tell his tale.

"I live in the nearby town of Takai. This evening I decided to bring my ma'aser money to Rabbeinu to distribute as he sees fit. After setting out, I noticed the threateningly, dark clouds looming ever closer, but I decided to continue walking. Then the storm broke. Heavy snow and hail pounded me mercilessly and every step forward became a struggle against the mighty wind. I tried to press on but seeing how, after a while, I had hardly covered any distance I prepared to retrace my steps and return home. This too became impossible, as the wind bowled me over. I had no choice but to continue rolling in the snow in the direction of Kerestier, until I finally arrived at your door. And here is the ma'aser money, Rebbe."

Exhausted, the man leaned back in his chair to finish sipping his tea.

"Gevaldig," the Rebbe exclaimed exultantly. "Two things can be learned from this story: One, the extreme mesirus nefesh of a Yid who wants to fulfill a mitzvah, and the second, that when Hashem wants to send a gift, the money will come despite all the snow and winds, even if a Jew has to come on his head to bring it!"


A phenomenal story has been passed on from the elders of Kerestier, who remember when it took place.

An agunah once came to R' Yeshaya to pour out her bitter lot. Her husband had run away, leaving her stranded to look after her children with no source of livelihood and a bleak future.

Rabbeinu had no immediate solution, but invited her to move into his home with her children until after Shabbos, when he will decide what to do.

Firmly believing that on Shabbos her salvation would come and all her troubles would be allayed, the woman moved into Rabbeinu's home. Every now and then she would enter the Rebbe's room to ask if her husband had arrived, never losing hope that the Rebbe would somehow help.

Close to Shabbos, a steady stream of people came to the Rebbe. Among them was a young man who began talking to R' Yeshaya. Suddenly the agunah came again to ask if her husband had come. Seeing the man who was talking, she stopped in her tracks and began to shriek: "It's you! Why did you leave me?"

The Rebbe succeeded in calming her down and eventually made peace between the two.

Subsequently when the Rebbe was told that the woman was publicizing his mofess, he looked surprised.

"This had nothing to do with me at all," explained R' Yeshaya. "It was in the zchus of this woman's emunas chachomim — her steadfast belief that if she did as I said she would see an end to her trouble — that her husband indeed returned."


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.