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Inconceivable Inspiration

Rabbi Yehoshua Alt

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Incredible Insights—The Sefer (in English)


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לעילוי נשמת יהושע אפרים בן יצחק יהודה

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Rabbi Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander Ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg Ztz”l. Rabbi Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications and is the author of the Sefer, Fascinating Insights: Torah Perspectives On Unique Topics. His writings inspire people across the spectrum of Jewish observance to live with the vibrancy and beauty of Torah. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes, and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.

Inconceivable Inspiration

One can be living his routine life and yet others could be so inspired by observing him to the extent that it changes their lives. The following are some stories that illustrate this.


In 1997, a man named Lenny called the rabbi of a Shul in Dallas, Texas expressing to him that he wanted to make a donation to his shul. When Lenny was asked why he wanted to donate money to a shul that he had no affiliation with, he explained that he just returned from a tour in Israel. He said in Jerusalem, “I was amazed by the intensity of a man dressed in a long black frock with ringlets of hair by his ears (a chasid) whom I saw praying at the Western Wall (the Kosel).[1] I was so moved by the depth of fervor (hislahavus) he displayed that I wanted to do something for him. Feeling uncomfortable to approach him, I decided when I return to Dallas, I’ll find a temple where this man would be likely to pray at and make a contribution in his merit. When I arrived home I went to the kosher bakery where the owner told me that a chasid like that would pray in this type of shul. As a result, I want to donate to your shul.” As his connection with the rabbi grew he gave more money and raised even more from his friends. When Lenny passed away his mother gave tens of thousands of dollars in his memory.


A yeshiva student who was in Tel Aviv taking care of some task was very careful to protect his eyes from seeing the improper. A storeowner there noticed this and was amazed at how someone could have such self-control. This spurred him on his journey back to Judaism. This boy, who never knew about what he accomplished, dramatically changed another’s life just by living his regular normal life.


At the shiva for R’ Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz (1913-2011),[2] R’ Chaim Kanievsky related the following story: R’ Michel Yehuda once came to R’ Chaim Kanievsky’s house to borrow a sefer he had. He explained that his father was a yerei shamayim (G-d fearing) but he wasn’t a rav or rosh yeshiva. When he would take walks with his father, his father pointed out a certain Jew named Yosef they would pass who was a shoemaker. His father would say, “he is like me in that he is not a Torah scholar but he has a son who is one. So you can also become a Torah scholar.” This inspired him greatly. Because of this, out of Hakaros Hatov, he borrowed the sefer that Yosef’s son authored, titled Bris Eisan, in order to learn it. R’ Chaim Kanievsky said that since he was a student of R’ Michel Yehuda, he also learned from that sefer out of Hakaras Hatov, because this person Yosef had such an impact on his rebbi that it thereby affected R’ Chiam in that he has such a rebbi now.

[1] Incidentally, the Minchas Elazar (Masaos Yerushalayim, מאמר יום ב) said he has a tradition from his Rabbaeim that the Ohr Hachaim gave a note to someone to put between the stones of the Kosel.

[2] R’ Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz was born in Volozhin to Mr. Moshe Dovid and Chaya Lefkowitz which was the second marriage for both of them. His father was almost 80 years old when he was born. The family lived in great poverty. Moshe Dovid had children from a previous marriage who lived in America; they would send their father three rubles (the equivalent of one dollar) each month. Moshe Dovid would use two of the rubles to pay for a melamed for R’ Michel Yehuda, and the other ruble to support the family. Chaya Lefkowitz’s son and daughter from a previous marriage lived in Palestine. In 1936, R’ Michel Yehuda and his mother (his father died in 1932) immigrated to Palestine. At the same time, R’ Michel Yehuda’s rebbi, R’ Shlomo Heiman immigrated to America, where he became rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Torah V’daas. On Lag Ba’omer 1940, the Chazon Ish, who was R’ Michel Yehuda’s shadchan, walked him to his chupa. R’ Michel Yehuda was a maggid shiur at Yeshivas Tiferes Tzion from 1940 until 2011 and rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Ponovitch L’Tzeirim from 1954 until 2009. In Yeshivas Ponovitch, he eventually taught the grandchildren of his original students. In the first and second years of this yeshiva, R’ Nissim Karelitz and R’ Chaim Kanievsky were his students. He also taught R’ Meir Tzvi Bergman (born in 1930), the son-in-law of R’ Shach. R’ Michel Yehuda was a member of the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah of Degel Hatorah, a member of Mifal Hashas, and nasi (president) of the Acheinu kiruv organization. In addition to his own Torah works, he published the teachings of his rebbi, R’ Shlomo Heiman, in the two-volume Chiddushei Shlomo.

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