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4 Adar II 5774 - March 6, 2014 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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HaRav Shmuel Engel, zt"l, of Radomishle

In Honor of His Yahrtzeit, 19 Adar, 5695

In 5616 (1856) when Shmuel was three, he contracted a severe eye infection. His pious mother Esther, a"h, rushed to Zanz to give a kvitel to the holy Divrei Chaim zt"l. The Rebbe blessed the boy, assuring his mother that he would recover, as he did soon after. However, at the age of eight, Shmuel once against suffered the same illness, this time so badly that his eyesight was threatened. The doctors warned his parents that this child would soon be blind, ch"v.

Once again, the distraught mother made her way to Zanz. There, she began to pour out the story to the Divrei Chaim, beginning with a glowing description of her young son. Although young in years the boy was more accomplished in Torah than men many years his senior. He knew all of maseches Shavuos verbatim and had already learned all of maseches Kiddushin with the Chidushei HoRashbo.

After hearing her through, the Zanzer took his scarf and handed it to the anxious mother. "Take this scarf and dip it into the nearby river," he gently instructed her. "Then take it home and place it over your son's eyes every day for seven full days. His refuah will come."

Clinging onto this, her last hope, Esther traveled back home with the scarf. With trembling fingers she did as the Rebbe had bidden each day, infused with new hope as the boy's condition steadily improved. After seven days he was totally healed and till the age of seventy-five he never had any need for eyeglasses.

Rabbi Shmuel, zt"l, would retell the nes many times over, pointing out that on each new day when his mother placed the scarf over his eyes he would feel his illness being drawn out and away, until the seventh day he felt healed.

Subsequently, R' Shmuel himself went to Zanz. The Gaon of Tchebin related, "When HaRav Shmuel Engel was in Zanz, in his youth, the holy Rebbe sent him to present a difficult kushya in the Rambam to the bochurim in the Zanzer yeshiva. When the bochurim had no answer, R' Shmuel gave an immediate clarification. This was reported to the Zanzer who, upon hearing the teirutz and who had given it, retorted, "If so, he should immediately return home to learn and continue in his shkeidas haTorah."

Among his parting instructions, the Zanzer exhorted R' Shmuel to daven from a siddur only. He also told him to obey his mother, for Shlomo Hamelech listened to his mother and became king over Yisroel. In time, R' Shmuel too became a king among the leaders of Klal Yisroel.

Not long after his wedding, R' Shmuel met one of the elders of his generation, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, zt"l, the rov of Lublin (author of Toras Chesed) with whom he enjoyed a lengthy conversation in learning. When they had finished, the older rov turned to R' Shmuel, "Young man," he asked, "why don't you write to me your divrei Torah?"

R' Shmuel was a little taken aback. It was known that R' Shneur Zalman received letters from Jews the world over, but replied only to very few.

In earnest humility, R' Shmuel replied, "But the Rov doesn't answer to those who send questions."

"I don't reply because they write me nonsense," retorted the Rov. "But if you write to me chidushei Torah like those we discussed now, of course I would reply with love and pleasure."

In the years prior to his accepting a rabbinical position, Reb Shmuel would learn a full eighteen hours a day, with every second available to him. His talmid the Freimoner Rav once heard his Rov apologize that it wasn't due to his greatness that he never spoke badly of a fellow Jew — he simply never had the time to malign anyone, being so occupied with limud Torah.

In fact, every conversation of his was divrei Torah. If he happened to converse with someone who could not talk in learning or understand, then he would start retelling about his great forbears. Naturally and inadvertently, a dvar Torah of his father's or grandfather's would slip out.

It is told that after his wedding Rabbi Shmuel assigned himself a sixth seder for learning Sheilos Uteshuvos Chasam Sofer systematically. Each day after shacharis he would learn five or six pages. If during that time he chanced upon a talmid chochom, he would be mefalpel with him over the Chasam Sofer's words. From then on he remembered the Chasam Sofer's works with amazing clarity.

His talmidim would point out that their rabbi never stumbled or stuttered over his words when saying divrei Torah. He would organize his thoughts for a few moments before commencing and then his words would gush forth with phenomenal speed yet sharp clarity.

It was to Reb Shmuel that everyone turned when, after World War I, numerous women were left agunos without a clue as to the whereabouts of their husbands who had been drafted into the army and sent to the front. With his tremendous koach haTorah, he became the one who absolved many women from their tragic status.

His clear memory enabled Reb Shmuel to store everything he had ever learned. Indeed, when in 5639 (1879) he became dayan in Rudnick, Rabbi Boruch of Gorlitz zt"l, who was then rov of Rudnick, was heard to exclaim delightedly, "Rabbosai, I've bought myself a living seforim cupboard! Whenever I want to know a Rashbo, Ritvo, a Chasam Sofer, or a Noda Biyehudah, I'll just ask Reb Shmuel and he'll tell me the whole piece on the spot."

Unlike other lomdim who recognize the gemora by its page numbers and thus can find what they are looking for, Rabbi Shmuel, when looking up a text, would look at the contents of the gemora and by that he would deduce which page he was up to.

His peers, the gedolim of his generation, held him in high esteem. Reb Elchonon Halpern, shlita, a descendant of Rabbenu, relates that in 5680 (1920) Reb Yissochor Dov Rokeach of Belz was visiting in Kashau.

Despite the fact that he was already advanced in years, the Belzer Rov insisted on going up to Reb Shmuel's second-story apartment. After ascending the stairs until the first floor, the Rebbe stopped, short of breath. He knew it would be extremely strenuous for him to manage another story, but with determination, he said, "To visit a Yid like the Rov of Radomishle, one must be moser nefesh." Then with all his remaining strength, he climbed the last stairs to reach the home of Rabbenu.

Once, when the Minchas Elozor, the Munkaczer Rov came to Reb Shmuel, he was asked to pass a drink of milk to the Radomishle.

With intense joy, the Munkaczer remarked to his attendants, "Finally, my father's blessing has been fulfilled. My father once gave me a brochoh that I merit to be meshamesh the chochom hador. By serving the cup to Rabbenu, I feel his blessing has come about."

On erev Shabbos Kodesh 19 Adar, just as the shliach tzibbur finished the brochoh of mechayeih hameisim, Rabbi Shmuel Engel called out Shema Yisroel and returned his unsullied soul to its Maker.

Zecher Tzaddik Livrochoh.


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