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9 Teves 5774 - December 12, 2013 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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HaRav Arye Leibish, zt"l, Rov of Vishnitza

In Honor of His Yahrtzeit, 17 Teves 5426

"Gaon Hador." This was the title given by the holy Chasam Sofer zt"l to Rabbi Arye Leibish.

As a young boy he learned under the Ketzos HaChoshen, Reb Arye Leib Heller zt"l, and it was there that he already became known as an illui — a genius. He was duly nicknamed Reb Leibish Chorif — the sharp one!

When he was of marriageable age, a wealthy man took him as a son-in-law. However, his daughter, a spoiled girl who had been surrounded by the pleasures of life up to now, did not appreciate a talmid chochom who sat and learns all day and most of the night. She had not been brought up to value the Torah life and decided to divorce.

After a while, the daughter of the Rabbi of Vjhel, the Yismach Moshe, was suggested as a suitable match for R' Arye Leibish. However, the girl's family protested that she needn't marry someone who had been formerly rejected, and were opposed to the shidduch.

The Yismach Moshe explained his reasoning for going ahead with the match, with a moshol:

"A farmer was working in his fields, tilling and plowing the soil, when he found a bag of what looked like round pebbles. Thinking they were a new type of bean or barley, he carried them home and proceeded to cook them. However, after several hours he saw that his `beans' had not softened at all, and remained rock hard. In his ignorance, the farmer decided they must be inferior beans and threw them out. Another fellow passing by the garbage heap noticed pearls rolling out of a bag.

"Recognizing the pearls for their true worth," continued the Yismach Moshe, "is this man going to start trying to fathom why someone else threw them out? No, he'll scoop them up delightedly and take them home!"

Concluded Rabbi Moshe, "Just because his former wife and her family were ignorant of Reb Arye Leibish's immense value, is that a reason for us to reject him?"

Following his wedding, Reb Arye Leib decided not to accept a position of rabbonus. Instead, he reckoned that if he would invest the five hundred gold coins that he had into a good deal, he would be able to live off the profits and continue learning Torah free of parnossoh worries.

Then, he reconsidered. In order to learn Torah, one must have life and health too, not merely a livelihood. Well, if Hashem can give me life and health without an investment on my part, He can do the same with my parnossoh.

Handing his money over to a businessman, he requested that he use it in his business and give him part of the profit. Subsequently, he was told that all the merchandise had been burned by a fire that broke out in the business fair. After hearing the report, Reb Arye Leib immediately returned to the beis medrash and threw himself into his learning with renewed vigor.

The Rebbetzin was more puzzled than concerned. What would be now?

"Do you remember," Reb Arye Leib placated her, "that at the time of our shidduch your father, the Yismach Moshe took me as a son-in-law because I am an illui? What's an illui? One who thinks in a moment that which others think out in ten minutes. The hishtadlus in parnossoh that takes others a lifetime I did in that short period of time, and now I am no longer obliged to invest time, money or energy into business and commerce. Hashem will provide for us without my help."


Rabbeinu was one of the close talmidim and chassidim of HaRav Hakodosh R' Yaakov Yitzchok, the Chozeh of Lublin.

The Divrei Yechezkel of Shinova, a son-in-law of Rabbenu, related that before Reb Arye Leibish married the daughter of the Yismach Moshe, he asked his Rebbe, the Chozeh, if he would be allowed to visit him during shonoh rishonoh, as the Rebbe lived in another town.

"To us one may travel even during shonoh rishonoh," replied his Rebbe.

Reb Arye Leibish understood that for a dvar mitzvah, one may leave home during the first year after marriage. If so, he mused, why did the Rebbe point out "to us one may travel" instead of saying that for a mitzvah it's permitted?

Looking up the mitzvah in the Sefer Hachinuch, Rabbenu made the following observation. One who travels away from home during shonoh rishonoh with the permission of his wife had done no aveiroh, however he has ignored the mitzvah of "noki yihyeh leveiso." However, one who does so for a mitzvah or to "rejoice with his friends" is not considered as if he has canceled the mitzvah.

Rabbenu then understood that the Chozeh, in his humility, did not wish to call a visit to him a dvar mitzvah. He therefore referred to the `to us,' denoting the `rejoicing with friends,' since, as is known, the Chozeh and his talmidim placed a great importance on the simchah in avodas Hashem.

The Chozeh was thus implying, that "to rejoice with us in avodas Hashem you may come even in the first year after your wedding."

* * *

Following the petiroh of the Boruch Taam, Reb Boruch Frankel zt"l, Rabbeinu was chosen to take his place as rov of the town Vishnitza.

All went well until once Rabbenu became mixed into the affairs of the Chevra Kadisha.

The community leaders were not used to the Rav giving his opinion and daas Torah in such matters and decided the rov must leave.

Although the incident occurred on Chol Hamoed, Reb Aryeh Leibish, with a heavy heart, left the town.

However, it was clear that Heaven was not in agreement with the townspeople. A devastating fire broke out in the city, ravaging three-quarters of the houses. It was clear to all that Hashem was defending Rabbenu's honor, a fact that was even noticed by the local gentiles.

Rabbenu's greatness was widely acclaimed, as his son-in-law, the Divrei Yechezkel, wrote in his introduction to his sefer, Arye Dvei Iloi "During his lifetime almost all the gedolim of the world passed his threshold to pay their respects."

His mechuton, the Divrei Chaim of Zanz, had a kaballah that for Parshas Poroh one should go to the Tzaddik Hador, and therefore always stayed for that Shabbos with Rabbenu.

Once, when the Divrei Chaim came he was ushered straight into Rabbenu's room. The latter, however, did not notice that a guest had come and the Divrei Chaim was left standing a long time while Rabbenu sat absorbed in his learning. Passing by the room, the Rebbetzin realized that no sound was emanating, no conversation between the two gedolim.

Upon entering she beheld the Zanzer standing lamely on the side, not wishing to interrupt his host's learning.

When she brought the matter to Rabbenu's attention, he apologized profusely, "Lately in my old age, my eyes are weak and I can see nothing save for the letters of the Torah and seforim that are before me."

Replied the Divrei Chaim, "Apparently had I been as lofty as the holy letters of the Torah, the mechuton would have felt my presence!"


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