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7 Adar II 5776 - March 17, 2016 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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HaAdmor Rabbi Yehoshua Shapiro zt'l of Bluzhov

In honor of his yahrtzeit 12th Adar 5692/1932

Rabbi Yehoshua was born on the 10th of Sivan 5623/1863.

After the passing of his father, the tzaddik Reb Zvi Elimelech of Bluzhov, Rabbi Yehoshua was crowned his successor.

His son Rabbi Yisroel zt'l related in the name of the Rav of Landsheit zt'l that already on the way home from the levaya of the Zvi Latzaddik, the chassidim announced that Rabbeinu would be the next leader.

The Rav of Landsheit, who was traveling in the same carriage as Rabbi Yehoshua, heard the latter snort in derision.

"A shame for all this work and honor, a waste of the fuss they are making, it will only be for eight years anyway."

Upon realizing that the Rav had heard his musings, he swore him to secrecy, so that the chassidim would not find out.

Eight years later, following the levaya of Rabbi Yehoshua, the Rav of Landsheit revealed the words he had heard eight years previously.


Rabbi Yisroel further related that his father had been physically a weak man, to the extent that his doctor insisted that he must eat before davening in the morning.

"He refused to do so, so I went to inform my grandfather, the Zvi Latzaddik, thinking that he could prevail on him to obey the doctors orders.

"Subsequently the Zeide told my father that the same Torah that commanded us not to eat before tefillah, also obligates us with the mitzvah of venishmartem me'od lenafshoseichem and he must now do as the doctor had said.

"Having done that, the Zeide appointed me as mashgiach to ensure that my father ate before shacharis.

"Several weeks later, when all three of us were together, the Zeide asked me if my father ate every day before the tefilloh, as per the doctor's instructions. I replied in the negative. My father had refused.

"`Why?' asked the Zeide, turning to him.

"My father, ztvk'l, asked to be allowed to explain himself.

"`In the army, every soldier must take part in the daily exercise session. Any soldier arriving late, receives a strict punishment. The only way a cadet can be excused is if he brings a letter from the army doctor stating that he is sick and unable to exercise.

"`At the end of each year, the army holds a grand ceremony, where awards are given and ranks of the soldiers are raised according to their performance over the past year. One officer becomes a colonel, one a general and so on, and a special prize is given to those who have gone through the whole year without ever having been fined or penalized for arriving late.

"`At one such ceremony, a young soldier stepped forward after the awards had been handed out. He had been absent on numerous occasions due to illness, but had always produced his doctor's note and had therefore never once been penalized. Now he demanded to know why he was the only one who had not received a prize, or promotion.

"`You are correct in that your doctor's note is enough to protect you from penalty,' explained his army chief, `but that certainly does not render you eligible to win a prize.'

"With tears in his eyes my father continued, `If you will promise me Tatte, that I will never have to lead a kehilloh, I agree to eat immediately. However, if there is a slight chance that I may have to be the guide, what will happen when, after 120, I will ascend to the Beis Din Shel Maaloh. There they will ask me why I ate before davening, and I will take out my doctor's letter. `Fine,' they will say, `this is enough to save you from penalty, but how could such a person be the prized leader of Yidden?' — And then what will I answer?'

"Following this," concluded Reb Yisroel zt'l, "my holy grandfather cried too. Then he just said, `Nu nu,' and from then on refrained from asking me whether my father had eaten or not."


A large crowd of chassidim were gathered at the tisch of Reb Zvi Elimelech of Bluzhov, all heads craned forward to listen to the Rebbe's divrei Torah. During the course of his talk, the Rebbe pointed out the difference of approach between the Mechaber and the Ramo. The Mechaber does not show how he reached a certain conclusion, whereas the Ramo shows mareh mekomos on each chiddush.

At this point, his son Rabbi Yehoshua mentioned aloud, "And sometimes, the Mechaber notes that these are the words of the Rambam."

The Zvi Latzaddik smiled quizzically, and challenged his son. "If you can show me what you said, then I will share out this expensive bottle of Wishniak to everyone here."

Rabbi Yehoshua rose from his place and silently took a Shulchan Oruch. He leafed through it a little and then closed the sefer shaking his head and murmuring, "Apparently, I was mistaken."

"Nu, you see," said Reb Zvi Elimelech.

As soon as the tisch was over, Rabbi Yehoshua entered his father's room and showed him in the sefer that in truth he had not erred, but had not wanted to show this in front of the chassidim.

Throwing the doors open wide to the chassidim who had not yet left the premises, the Zvi Latzaddik exclaimed, "Look what a special son I have. Although I was mistaken, he did not want to embarrass me. Anyone else would have been eager to prove himself correct. Yet my son rather accepted the shame as though he had been wrong."

The public announcement was too much for the humble Rabbi Yehoshua. Red-faced, he blurted out, "That is not what I meant at all. I just wanted to save the Tatte from having to share out all the Wishniak."


To end, we will cite the words of his son Rabbi Yisroel of Bluzhov zt'l on the day of his father's yahrtzeit: It is no great inyan to retell my father's mofsim, but of his mitzvos and general behavior, it is a mitzvah to recount. My Zeide, the Zvi Latzaddik used to say of his son Rabbi Yehoshua zt'l that he envied his middas ho'emmes.


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