Pidyon Kaparot Now

Priceless Gift

Rabbi Yehoshua Alt

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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 books, Fascinating Insights and Incredible Insights. 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.

Priceless Gift

When R’ Meir Shapiro was a young boy, his family was so impoverished that they had no food. Yet, his mother paid lots of money for a מלמד, one to teach him Torah. R’ Meir Shapiro complained to his mother as he felt it wasn’t right to pay such an exorbitant amount of money when they had no food. His mother told him it is a small sacrifice for such a great, magnificent Torah. R’ Meir Shapiro would repeat this to himself later in life when challenges would arise!


In the 1950s there was a Jew that lived in Eretz Yisrael known as R’ Nesanel the milkman. This man was great in Torah as R’ Aharon Kotler testified. R’ Nesanel would review Torah in his head as he would deliver milk. If he had a question on what he was learning, he would stop someone on the street and ask them. Due to this, he wasn’t good at his job because one receiving his milk was dependent on him understanding the piece of Torah he was thinking about. R’ Shalom Schwadron decided that whenever anyone would see him, they should turn the other way in order that he deliver the milk on time because he needed a living. Once, when R’ Shalom saw R’ Nesanel, he turned the other way, although R’ Nesanel repeatedly called him because he had difficulty understanding a piece of Torah.[1] When R’ Nesanel asked R’ Shalom why he did this, R’ Shalom answered, “You need to make a living so I turned away from you.” R’ Nesanel then said emotionally, “This is my living (Torah)!”[2]


The story is told of a husband that decided he was going to leave Kollel after many years in order to work so that he can support his family. His wife objected and was willing to sell her ring in order that he continue learning. She went to the jewelry store to sell it where she was given 10,000$ for its value. She was then asked why she wanted to sell the ring. After explaining why, the owner returned the ring to her in addition to letting her keep the money![3]


The Gemara[4] tells us R’ Yosef said that if it weren’t for the day of Matan Torah, there would be many Yosefs in the marketplace![5] This can be explained as follows: The eino-yehudim act properly and respectfully in their house of worship while when they leave, they are different people. This is contrary to the Torah which teaches us how to act at every moment of life. Therefore, we are the same upright people in the Beis Midrash as at the workplace and home. This is what R’ Yosef’s meant: If it weren’t for that day of Matan Torah, there would be many Yosefs. That is, there would be one Yosef in the market and an entirely different Yosef in Shul as his behaviors would vary. Since we have the Torah, R’ Yosef said now there is only one R’ Yosef as he is the same everywhere.


[1] The Yerushalmi (Brachos 5:1. See also Eruvin 43b) records a story of Reish Lakish who was meditating so deeply upon Torah while walking that he went out of the Techum Shabbos without realizing it!

[2] There is an expression, “Stop making a living and start living.”

[3] The Chassam Sofer (Drashos Chassam Sofer p. שנג, s.v. ואמר טפכם) writes that if a wife supports her husband and children in learning Torah, although the husband and children have their reward diminished if they mess up and don’t follow in the Torah path she supported, her reward is not reduced.

[4] Pesachim 68b.

[5] Chazal (Avos Drebi Nosson 21:2) relate a story about R’ Akiva where he was once teaching his students and he remembered that which he did in his youth. He then said, “I thank You, Hashem, that you have established my portion with those who dwell in the study hall and not with idlers in the market.”

Author of the books Fascinating Insights and Incredible Insights

Listen to the short Fascinating Insights Podcast at

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