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Venerable Visitors

Rabbi Yehoshua Alt

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Incredible Insights—The Sefer (in English)

 

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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.

Venerable Visitors

One who defends the Torah of a gadol that precedes him may merit to greet him in the future. We see this in the gemara[1] where Rava said, “when I die, R’ Oshaya will come out to greet me because I interpreted the Mishna in accordance with him.”

 

The Sefer Chassidim,[2] authored by R’ Yehuda Hachassid (1150-1217), writes that when a tzadik who explained the words of another tzadik, like an amora who explained the words of a tanna, dies, the tanna comes forth to greet him with a happy countenance and walks with him and asks the malachim to be lenient on him. He brings him before Hashem to speak good about him.

 

The Shach[3] (1621-1662) wrote that he is certain that when his time comes to leave this world that the tannaim will greet him because he defended their positions.

 

In the sefer Magid Masharim[4] it says that because R’ Yosef Karo (1488-1575) explained the Rambam (1135-1204) and the Tur (c. 1269-c. 1343), they are a good advocate for him before Hashem and they will come out to greet his neshama when it is time for him to leave This World.

 

R’ Yehoshua Heschel Charif[5] (1593-1648) authored a sefer called Maginei Shlomo. This sefer defends Rashi (1040-1105) from the questions of Tosafos. It is therefore called מגיני שלמה, because he protected (מגן means a shield) Rashi, whose name was Shlomo (R’ Shlomo Yitzchaki). In the Hakdama it says that Rashi appeared to the author in his lifetime with great simcha and said “you are praiseworthy in This World and all is well with you in the Next World because you saved me from the mighty lions that are the Baalei Tosafos. I’m coming to greet you to the Next World with all my students.” This is what occurred as about a half-hour before R’ Yehoshua Heschel Charif passed away, there were gedolim from Krakow at his bedside. R’ Yehoshua said in front of them, “clear a space because Rashi and his holy entourage have come and he has greeted me joyously to show me the way of life since I have always been at his right side to resolve the questions posed by Tosafos on his commentary.”

 

Similarly we find with the passing of R’ Shlomo Heiman[6] (1892-1945). Just prior to death, his students who were with him related his last words: “Great guests are coming. Prepare two chairs—one for R’ Akiva Eiger[7] (1761-1837) and the other for R’ Chaim Ozer Grodzensky (1863-1940).”



[1] Baba Kamma 111b.

[2] 559.

[3] Choshen Mishpat 91.

[4] Vayakhel, s.v. כי הרמבם.

[5] He also authored שות פני יהושע and was a rav in Lvov and Krakow.

[6] At age 12, he went to the yeshiva of Kaminetz to study under R’ Baruch Ber Leibowitz. After his marriage, R’ Baruch Ber asked him to give shiurim in the Kaminetz yeshiva. During World War One, R’ Shlomo was briefly drafted into the Russian army. He served on the front lines of the war, yet still managed to review the entire Mesachta Kesubos in the trenches. After the First World War, R’ Shlomo gave gemara shiurim in the yeshiva in Baranovitch, headed by R’ Elchanan Wasserman. In 1927, at the request of R’ Chaim Ozer Grodzensky, R’ Shlomo became the Rosh Yeshiva of the Ramailles Yeshiva, a position he held for 8 years. In 1935, R’ Shlomo was invited by R’ Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz to lead Mesivta Torah V’daas in the United States. With the approval of R’ Chaim Ozer, R’ Shlomo accepted this position. Due to this, he was spared the horrors of the Holocaust. Although R’ Shlomo did not leave any biological children, his legacy lives on in the wealth of Torah that he taught his students.

[7] At times, his students would suggest an answer to a question of R’ Akiva Eiger. R’ Shlomo Heiman therefore would give a shiur just to understand R’ Akiva Eiger’s question because answering his question showed they never really understood it. This is similar to the story of the person who came to the Satmar Rebbe for a haskama on his sefer which answered all of R’ Akiva Eiger’s questions except for three. The Satmar Rebbe told him, “the three you didn’t answer are the only ones you really understood.”

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