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Extraordinary People

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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.

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Extraordinary People

Here are some remarkable stories of the care shown by fellow Jews. R’ Yechiel Michel Chill of Monsey, who was an 11th-grade rebbe in R’ Shamson Raphael Hirsch High School for Boys, was one of the emissaries sent by the Vaad L’Hatzolas Nidchei Yisroel to the Former Soviet Union (FSU). While in Moscow, he met a student named Moshe and spent many hours discussing with him the basics of Judaism. As they parted, R’ Chill told Moshe to call him if he was ever in the States. About six months later, R’ Chill received a call from Moshe, who told him that he had been granted an exit visa and was now an exchange student at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Moshe related how his tefillin had been confiscated by a border guard as he left the FSU, and that, in addition, he was without any kosher food and had no clue how to find it. R’ Chill called his friend R’ Tzvi Goodman and together they purchased a new set of tefillin for Moshe, a Russian-language siddur and other reading material, and loaded a car with enough kosher food for a month, before embarking on the four-hour drive to Ithaca. After two hours of seeing what they could do to help orient Moshe, the two men traveled back for Monsey, arriving late at night. The next day R’ Chill explained to his shiur why he might be a bit exhausted in the hope that his story might someday be an example for one of his students in how far we should go to help a fellow Jew. A year later, Jeremy Strauss, who had been in R’ Chill’s the shiur preceding year, rushed into Rabbi Chill’s class one Sunday morning and told him the following story. His father and he had noticed an unfamiliar young man in their shul in Englewood and invited him home for the Shabbos meal. At the meal, he told them he was a recent ba’al teshuva. And what had triggered his sudden interest in Judaism? At the end of the spring semester of the previous year at Cornell, he had been given a newly arrived Russian roommate for two nights. The new roommate had seemed totally lost and out of place, until two rabbis came loaded with food and books. “I kept thinking all night that I had never seen anything like this. I must find out about the religion that creates such love for a fellow Jew. I began looking into what Judaism was all about and that’s where the road to being observant began.”


Someone was once pushing R’ Dovid Soloveitchik to accept a certain student into yeshiva. R’ Dovid told him that the boy can learn in the Beis Midrash but cannot be accepted to the yeshiva. The man asked incredulously, “If he can learn in the Beis Midrash, why can’t he join the yeshiva?” R’ Dovid explained that he davens and cries (The duration of his regular weekday Shemoneh Esrei, accompanied with tears, was between 45 minutes and an hour.) for the success of each boy in the yeshiva. But now that I have reached the quota of what I can handle, I cannot daven even for one more boy.


R’ Ilan Halberstadt, Rav of Machzikei Hadas in London had a morning kollel that began at 6 a.m. However when his wife was undergoing a difficult pregnancy, she was glued to her bed and unable to perform the mundane tasks required to take care of the little children in the morning. Consequently, he stepped in. As a result, he started to deliver his shiur for the morning kollel in his house. After a few days, one of the neighbors, Henna Rosenberg, noticed what was happening. She took it upon herself to arrive at the house at 6 a.m. so that the Rosh Kollel could go to shul and conduct the morning Kollel as he was accustomed to. Every morning beginning at 6 she would feed and dress the little children. By the time the Rosh Kollel arrived home, the children were all ready for school. Henna did these incredible acts of chessed for three months. That’s right — for three consecutive months, she would arrive at her neighbor’s house at 6 a.m. to feed and dress the little children. It doesn’t end there. At her shiva, after she passed away, the Rosh Kollel related this. Henna’s husband was agape. He was completely unaware of these extraordinary acts of chessed his wife performed. He said that he thought she just took walks in the park at that hour in the morning.


The Chofetz Chaim would relate the following story. In 1794, R’ Yaakov Kranz, known as the Dubno Magid, once met a blind widower strolling with his son in the streets of Vilna. While most people didn’t pay much attention to them, the Dubno Magid greeted them warmly. They told him about their great poverty and the lack of heat and food in their home. The Dubno Magid welcomed them into his home so they could warm up and eat dinner. He also hired a tutor to teach the son Torah, and he himself would learn with the boy the aggadic (i.e., non-legal) parts of the Torah, meeting with him in regular Friday night sessions. From then on, they became part of the Dubno Magid’s family. He continued to care for this child after the child’s father, R’ Yehuda Aharon, Rav of Komarow, died before the age of 40. This child became the great Torah personality, R’ Shlomo Kluger.[1] The Chofetz Chaim would say that many people saw the blind pauper walking with his son and felt bad about their predicament. But whereas for them, that’s where it ended, for the Dubno Magid it began. He showed concern, welcomed them, fed them and paid for a tutor for the child. If the Dubno Magid had not reached out to them, the Jewish Nation would have been bereft of a great Torah personality. The Chofetz Chaim would conclude, “How many more Shlomo Klugers are out there that we just pass by?”


[1] Interestingly, in his work Chochmas Shlomo (Even Ha’ezer 1:1), R’ Kluger analyzes whether one fulfills the mitzvah to “be fruitful and multiply” through adoption.


Writer of the weekly Fascinating Insights Torah sheet in Englishעברית ,אידיש and français
Author of Five Books including the recently released “Magnificent Marriage Insights: Captivating Torah Essays about Marriage”

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