Gedolim Stories


Rav Menachem Mendel Schneerson
The Lubavitcher Rebbe
(1902-1994)

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson of righteous memory, the seventh leader in the Chabad-Lubavitch dynasty, is considered to have been the most phenomenal Jewish personality of modern times. To hundreds of thousands of followers and millions of sympathizers and admirers around the world, he was -- and still is, despite his passing -- "the Rebbe," undoubtedly, the one individual more than any other singularly responsible for stirring the conscience and spiritual awakening of world Jewry.
Rabbi Nachum Rabinovitz, an elder chassid who lives in Jerusalem, was once waiting for yechidut (a private audience with the Rebbe). Among those waiting was a young man, obviously wealthy, but wearing a morose and despondent expression.
A short while later, the young man entered the Rebbe’s room, and when he emerged, his expression had changed. His face beamed forth energy and vitality. Curious about this abrupt shift in emotion, when his own yechidut concluded, Reb Nachum
inquired about the young man’s identity from the Rebbe’s secretaries and was able to arrange a meeting. “I am a wealthy man,” the young man told Reb Nachum, “but recently, my only son died. At that point, I felt that my life no longer had any purpose. I saw no value to my wealth or my position. “I went to the Rebbe for solace and advice.
“The Rebbe asked me what my feelings would be if my son went overseas and was living in a foreign country from which he could not communicate to me, but in which I could be assured that all his needs were being met and he had no suffering at all.
“I answered that although the separation would be difficult to bear, I would be happy for my son. “ ‘And although he could not respond, if you could communicate with him and send packages to him,’ the Rebbe continued, ‘would you do so?’ “ ‘Of course,’ I answered. “ ‘This is precisely your present situation,’ the Rebbe concluded. ‘With every word of prayer you recite, you are sending a message to your son. And with every gift you make to charity or institution which you fund you are sending a package to him. He cannot respond, but he appreciates your words and your gifts.’ ”
(From: To Know and To Care)

 

Rav Yisroel Abuchatzeira
The Baba Sali
(1890-1984)




Rav Yisroel Abuchatzeira, the great Moroccan tzaddik, was commonly known as the Baba Sali, or "Praying Father," because of his ability to work miracles with his prayers. This title, however, actually originated with an incident that occurred in Rav Yisroel's childhood

Unlike most children his age, the young Rav Yisroel never longed for toys or sweets. All he wanted was a new siddur, the kind with large, shimmering letters.One day his father, Rav Mas'ud Abuchatzeira, brought home such a siddur. But he was reluctant to give it to Rav Yisroel, fearing that its glitter might divert his son's attention from his prayers.Rav Yisroel offered his father a proposition. "Let's make a deal," he said. "You give me the siddur, and if I pray with less fervor, you take it back.""It's a deal," Rav Mas'ud replied.Rav Mas'ud never did ask for that siddur back. Rav Yisroel prayed with great devotion and eventually became a pillar of prayer on whom Klal Yisroel rested.Rav Yisroel had a profound impact on Netivot and its surrounding settlements. Many residents of these settlements changed their entire lifestyles due to his influence and began to observe the mitzvos hateluyos ba'aretz. In time, the Negev began to bloom spiritually.From the moment Rav Yisroel arrived in Netivot, large numbers of people lined up at his door, seeking his help. His prayers led to many miracles and resulted in great kiddush Hashem. Many people also returned to their roots as a result of his influence.One of the most famous incidents involved a young man who was injured in battle.The young man arrived at Rav Yisroel's home in Netivot in a wheelchair. He told Rav Yisroel his story: "I was injured by a bullet in my back during the Yom Kippur War. Although I underwent a series of operations, I am still a cripple and can't stand up. One of my legs is so bad that the doctors want to amputate it. A friend suggested that I visit the Rav, who is supposed to work wonders with his prayers. At first I refused. But in my despair, I decided to give it a try.""Do you put on tefillin every day?" Rav Yisroel asked."No."Do you keep Shabbos?""No.""If such is the case, " Rav Yisroel replied, "you should be thankful that only one leg is in such a serious condition. We believe that Hashem gives us healthy limbs so that we may serve Him. Those who don't keep the mitzvos should regard their healthy limbs as gifts."At that, the young man burst into tears.Rav Yisroel looked him the eye and asked, "If I bless you that you will be able to stand, will you begin to observe the mitzvos?""Yes," the young man eagerly replied."Then give me your hand, and may you have a refua sheleima."After the young man kissed Rav Yisroel's hand, Rebbetzin Abuchatzeira told him to try and stand up. To his surprise, he was able to stand up immediately, and even take a number of steps without assistance.Startled by the remarkable change in his situation, the young man ran out of the house in search of a telephone. The nearest telephone was in Yeshivas Hanegev, a few feet away from Rav Yisroel's home.The young man raced over to the yeshiva, and called his family to tell them about the miracle. The yeshiva students, who overheard the conversation, were stunned. Taking him by the hand, they broke out into a fervent dance.A short while later, the young man returned to Rav Yisroel's house with many of the yeshiva students, and a special seuda was held in honor of the miracle.The young man's story spread like wildfire throughout the country, and caused many to adopt a Torah lifestyle.This is only one story out of the many thousands of accounts of the great miracles brought about by the Baba Sali's prayers.

 

Rav Yitzchak Elchonon Spector

(1817 – 1896)



Rabbi Yitzchak Elchonon Spector was the Rav in the city of Kovna and because of this he was called the Kovna Rav. R’ Yitzchak Elchonon was known throughout the whole world as a great rabbi. People sent Torah questions to him from everywhere and many people traveled to Kovna to have him help solve their problems because everyone knew how much he loved Jewish people.



One time, Rav Yitzchak Elchonon was helping two men who were having an argument. At the same time, Rav Yitzchak Elchonon was waiting to hear if his favorite Yaacov would have to go to the army. He hoped he would not, because in the army they did not let you learn Torah or keep any mitzvos. Suddenly, while Rav Yitzchak Elchonon was helping the two men with the argument, a boy opened the door and said, “Rabbi, we just found out that Yaacov does not have to go in the army!  Such good news. Thank you for telling    me.” A few minutes later another boy opened t he door and said “Rabbi. Yaacov does not have to go to the army.” Rav Yitzchak Elchonon did not want to tell him that he already knew because he wanted the boy to be happy so he said, “Boruch Hashem! What good news! Thank you for telling me.” A few minutes later it happened again and again. Each time Rav Yitzchak Elchonon interrupted himself to show how happy he was even though he already heard the news. Each one of the boys had rushed to be the one to make him happy so he did not want make any of them sad. That is one of the reasons why Rav Yitzchak Elchonon was considered  a great gadol, because of tremendous sensitivity to others.



 

Rav Aharon Kotler

(1895-1963)


Rabbi Aharon Kotler was a great Rosh Yeshiva in Europe. Then the evil

Nazis invaded and everyone had to run away. Reb Aharon came to America and started a new Yeshiva in Lakewood, New Jersey. Soon, more and more students came to join his Yeshiva. Even after Reb Aharon died, the Yeshiva continued to grow and today it is one of the biggest Yeshivas in the world. Reb Aharon was a very big Talmid Chacham. When he gave a shiur, the talmidim would review it for many hours because what he taught was so important to them.

Reb Aharon was also sensitive to everybody’s feelings. The following story demonstrates this sensitivity.One time, it was Yom Kippur and a man had come to pray in the yeshiva in Lakewood. During the afternoon, the man wasn’t feeling well, so he went to lay down in the dormitory. The most special part of Yom Kippur is the Neilah when they blow the shofar and Yom Kippur ends. Right before Neilah, Reb Aharon went over to a certain student and told him to go and keep the man company. The boy said, “If I stay with the man, I will miss the important Neilah Tefilos.” Reb Aharon said, “The man is probably lonesome and scared and needs someone to keep him company. It is the most important thing you could do right now.” Even on the most important day of the year, Reb Aharon was thinking about the 

 

Rav Moshe Isserles - 

The Ram’ah

(1530-1572)



R. Moshe Isserles was a great talmid chacham. He is known to the world as the Ramah. He wrote comments on the famous Shulchan Aruch and all Ashkenazi Jews, that is, Jews who come from the countries of Europe, follow his decisions in halacha. R. Moshe’s father’s name was R. Yisrael, and like many people named Yisrael, people called him Issur.


R. Issur had a custom never to do business on Friday afternoon because he might forget to prepare for Shabbos and that would not be kovod for Shabbos.


One Friday morning, a very wealthy man entered R. Issur’s stores and gave him a long list of things he wanted. R. Issur was very happy because he would make a handsome profit from the customer. R. Issur started to put the order together. It took R. Issur much longer than he thought an soon it was afternoon. When R. Issur realized that he must go home and prepare for Shabbos. He turned to his customer and asked him if he could come back after Shabbos to pick up his order, explaining that he never worked Erev Shabbos afternoon so that he could give proper kavod to Shabbos. The wealthy man got very angry and started screaming and shouting. He threatened to take his business to a different store, causing R. Issur to lose a great deal of money. Although R. Issur was sad to lose the money, he would not change his mind. He told the customer, “I’m sorry you feel that way but I have a minhag not to work on Erev Shabbos afternoon and I will not change that minhag.” Suddenly the man became very calm. He told R. Issur that he had been sent to test him to see how dedicated he was to his beautiful minhag. As a reward for being so strong by keeping to his minhag, the man gave R. Issur a bracha that he should have a son who would be a great talmid chacham and leader of the Jewish people. Not very long after that, R. Issur had a son. They named him Moshe but everyone who knew the story of the bracha that the customer had given him, called the boy Issurles, which means be belongs to Issur. Due to his tremendous kavod for Shabbos, R. Issur merited to have a son like R. Moshe Isserles. Every time we mention his name we remember

 

Rabbi Yosef Dov HaLevi Soloveitchik
(1903-1993)


Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik was known as “The Rav” (the rabbi) to many Jews because he was the teacher of so many rabbis in America. Rabbi Soloveitchik lived in Boston where he was the rabbi of a large shul in New York and where he was the Rosh Yeshiva (Leader) of a big yeshiva. Even though the Rav spent most of his days teaching yeshiva students who were adults, the Rav always had enough time to learn Chumash with little children. He loved it when little children would teach him about the parsha.
One Friday, when he was talking at a yeshiva in Boston, he saw a little child crying in the hall. He asked the child what was wrong and the child said that it was Friday and he had not yet learned about the parsha. The Rav immediately took the child into his office and taught him the whole parsha so the child could tell his parents all about the Parsha when he got home. The Rav used to say that it was very important for children to learn Parsha.


 

Rav Yoel Teitelbaum -

The Satmar Rebbe
(1887-1979)


Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum was the leader of the Satmar  Chassidim. Everyone knew him as the Satmar Rebbe. The Satmar Rebbe lived in Hungary and was famous
as a very holy Jew and leader of many chassidim. Then, Hitler the Rasha, (yimach shemo), came and started getting rid of the Jews. He got rid of many
Satmar Chassidim and put the Satmar Rebbe in a concentration camp.

The Satmar Rebbe learned and davened while he was in that nasty place.
HaShem saved him and then he moved to America. In America, he spent most of his time helping the Jews that had escaped from Hitler (Y”S). His chassidim
joined together and soon there were many Satmar Chassidim again. The Satmar Rebbe gave a lot of Tzedakah  and even to people who were not nice to him.
Once there was even a man who was speaking lashon hara about the Rebbe in the newspaper. Sometime later this man’s daughter was getting married and he needed
money to help her buy a house to live in. He knew that the Satmar Rebbe gave lots of Tzedakah. So he comes to the Rebbe and the Rebbe gladly gives him money.  When the man left the chassidim said, “Rebbe, don’t you know that was the man who said bad things about you?” The Satmar Rebbe said, “Of course I do, but we shouldn’t
be angry with people. He needs the money and it is a mitzvah to help him.” Then the Rebbe thought that maybe he had given this man less tzedakah than he
should have because he said bad things about him. The Rebbe called the man back and gave him even more Tzedakah. From this great Rebbe we learn to help
another person in need . . . even if he was mean to us!


 

Rav Aryeh Levin
(1885-1969)


Rabbi Aryeh Levin is known to all as a “Tzaddik in our time.” There wasn’t a Jewish person R’ Aryeh Levin didn’t want to help. During the time of the British Mandate, many Jews were taken as prisoners in Israel.

R’ Aryeh Levin took it upon himself to visit the Jewish prisoners each and every Shabbos. He would bring back messages to their families of their well being.

One snowy Shabbos in Yerushalayim, there wasn’t a single person walking through the streets. Only the footsteps of R’ Aryeh Levin could be found in the snow. As R’ Aryeh Levin trudged through the storm, he met another man. R’ Aryeh Levin told him he had many messages for the families of the Jewish prisoners and asked him if he would mind helping take a few of those messages. R’ Aryeh Levin was very concerned that the families would be worried if they did not get their  messages before Shabbos. Even in a gigantic storm, R’ Aryeh thought of his fellow people. The man agreed to take the messages to the families. R’ Aryeh Levin was a gadol who taught us to love each and every Jew and try our best to do chessed for other people at all times.

 

Rav Moshe Schreiber -

The Chasam Sofer
(1763-1839)

Rabbi Moshe Schreiber is known to the world as the Chasam Sofer which stands for Chidushei Toras Moshe. Sofer is Hebrew for Schreiber – which is someone who writes a Torah. The Chasam Sofer was a great talmid chacham from the time he was very young.

When he was all grown up, he became a Rabbi of the city of Pressburg in Hungary and was the leader of the great yeshiva in that city. The Chasam Sofer
also wrote great explanations of the Torah and answered many questions that people had about halachot. These answers were written down and people study them to this very day.

When the Chasam Sofer was a young boy, he was sent to the city of Mainz to learn Torah. In Mainz, he lived with a family. Living in the same house was a soldier
named Paull de Montfort. The soldier had the Chasam Sofer teach him to speak German. The soldier liked the Chasam Sofer because of his good Midos and came to
respect the Jewish people because of the Chasam Sofer. Although the Chasam Sofer liked the soldier, he always felt bad that he had to take time from his Torah
learning to give him German lessons. Many years later a number of Jews in Pressburg were arrested. The police also arrested the Chasam Sefer. They said that he was responsible because he was the Rabbi of these men. They wanted to kill the Chasam
Sofer. When the Chasam Sofer entered the court, the judge took one look at him and said he could go free. The judge was the Chasam Sofer’s old friend, the
soldier Paull de Montfort. The Chasam Sofer learned an important lesson from
this event. Many times we do not understand why Hashem ha things happen to us. Sometimes we even feel bad. Only later do we see that Hashem was really
preparing something that is very good for us.

 

Rabbi Shneur Zalman -

The Alter Rebbe
(1745-1813)



Reb Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the Baal HaTanya, taught many Jews Torah
and helped them keep their Yiddishkeit in Russia, over 200 years ago. The Russian government didn’t like this, so they arrested the Rav and put him in jail. No one knew where he was taken or whether he was even alive, and it was too dangerous to ask.

Reb Shneur Zalman sat in prison day after day, with nothing to eat but a few fruits and vegetables. He would not eat non-Kosher food, even though he was so hungry and weak! The warden (head of the jail) tried to get him to eat some cooked food. “I will not eat non-kosher food under any circumstances!” declared the RavWell,” said the warden, “if I get you Kosher food, will you eat it?” The Rav replied, “Yes, but only if it is cooked by a Jew, and you personally take it from him and bring it to me!” So the warden searched secretly for a reliable Jew, and found a chossid, Reb Mordechai, who could give him the food. He didn’t tell Reb Mordechai who it was for, though! Of course, the chossid wondered. He decided to put a note on the bottom of the jar of food to find out if Reb Shneur Zalman might be getting this food, because then he can tell the Chassidim that the Rav is alive! He hoped the warden wouldn’t catch him by finding the note, because then he would probably be arrested, too.

The next day the jar was returned. Reb Mordechai looked inside excitedly – and found that the mysterious prisoner had left over some food at the bottom, and sure enough, underneath it was a note! Reb Shneur Zalman wrote that he was the prisoner recieving the food and that there were certain things the Chasidim could do to help him get out of prison. Sure enough, soon afterwards the Rav was let out of jail—and all because he wouldn’t eat non-kosher food, even at the risk of his life!

 

  Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld

(1849-1932)


Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld was born in the country of  Hungary about one hundred and fifty years ago. As a boy, Reb Yosef Chaim learned a lot of  Torah and his Rebbes were very proud of him. When Reb Yosef Chaim was young man, he decided that he must live in Eretz Yisroel. In Eretz Yisroel, Reb Yosef continued learning
Torah and doing mitzvot until he became a great talmid Chacham.

Soon all of the Jews in Eretz Yisroel saw that Reb Yosef  Chaim was really a Gadol and they asked him to be their rav. Reb Yosef Chaim was also the mohel of many of the children in Yerushalayim. Many times he had to walk through huge snow storms or drenching rain to do a bris but he always came on time even if the bris was
very far from his home. Ever since the Bais HaMikdash was destroyed, Jews
go to daven at the Kosel HaMaaravi which is the last wall of the Bais HaMikdash that is still standing. The Kosel was located right in the middle of an Arab neighborhood. In those days, the Arabs who lived in Eretz Yisroel hated the Jews. They especially didn’t like Reb Yosef Chaim who left the country he was born in to move to Eretz Yisroel. One year, the Arabs got very angry and started killing Jewish people. When
the Arabs started hurting the Jews, everybody stopped going to the Kosel because they were afraid for their lives.

One year it was Yom Kippur and all of the Jews in
Yerushalayim were very sad because they wanted to daven at the Kosel but the Arabs would not let them.
Reb Yosef Chaim walked right through the Arab neighborhood to the Kosel and davened there on Yom Kippur. He knew that since he was going to daven to
Hashem and he was concentrating on his tefilos, Hashem would protect him from the Arabs. Afterward, when Reb Yosef Chaim came safely home, he told the
Jews not to worry because the time will come when Hashem will again let us daven at this place. Reb Yosef Chaim was right because now Hashem has given us back Yerusahalayim and we can daven at the Kosel any time we want. And soon, I”Y, Mashiach will come and the Kosel will be built into a Bais HaMikdash and Jews from all around the world will come to daven in that place.

 

Rabbi Yaakov Yisroel Kanievsky -The Steipler


(1899 - 1985)


Rabbi Yaacov Yisroel Kanievsky was known as the Steipler Gaon,(Genius) because he came from the town of Haron Steipel. He grew up to become one of the leaders of Klal Yisroel. He also wrote many important seforim. The Steipler spent all of his life studying Torah and doing Mitzvos. He used to study until very late at night and then get up very early the next morning.

He didn’t even notice losing sleep because he loved to learn Torah so much. When the Steipler was a young man he was forced to become a soldier in the Russian army. The soldiers tried to make the Steipler work on Shabbos, but he never would. One time they started to hit him to make him work on Shabbos, but he never did. The Steipler never wanted to take a chance of doing an aveira. The soldiers took turns guarding the camp, and there was a special, thick coat that the guard would wear because of the freezing weather in Russia. One Shabbat, it was the Steipler's turn to stand guard for the camp. The one who guarded before him was a gentile who, upon finishing his watch, hung the coat on the tree by the guard post. When the Steipler arrived he saw the coat on the tree. The Steipler did not want to violate the Rabbinic prohibition of taking something off a tree on Shabbat, but the cold was so bitter. He thought to himself, for the time being it's not life threatening, so I'll wait a few minutes until I have to take the coat off the tree. After a few minutes, again he thought that it's not yet life threatening, so I'll wait another few minutes. And so it went the entire long winter night, a few minutes and a few minutes ... until his watch was over. 

 

Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook
(1865-1935)







Rav Kook was born in Russia, but from the time he was a little boy, he dreamed of living in Eretz Yisrael. From a very young age, he studied Torah and Gemara, and was a brilliant student.
By the time he was nine, he was known by many people in Russia as an illuy. He learned Torah day and night. If he didn’t learn even for a short period of time, he would feel very sad.

Rav Kook thought that everything a Jew does should be holy. When he learned Torah he tried to speak only Hebrew, the Lashon Hakodesh, since it was the language of the Torah and davening. He tried to keep his thoughts pure also. He believed that only with Torah thoughts would he be able to wear his tallis and tefilin all day long. At first, he wanted to have regular job so that he could make money and have time to learn Torah, but the Chofetz Chaim told him to become a rabbi in Europe. Then he fulfilled the dream of his childhood and moved to Eretz Yisrael. Eventually he became the first
chief rabbi of Eretz Yisrael. Rav Kook loved all Jews. He would travel to all the towns and villages in Eretz Yisrael, talking to the people to help them see the beauty of Torah and Mitzvot. He was very concerned for the farmers who worked very hard. He wrote letters to Jews all over the world urging them to buy their esrogim for Sukkos from the Jewish farmers in Eretz Yisrael. Rav Kook taught us an important lesson. We should always try to help another Jew even when we do a mitzvah for Hashem. If we buy our esrog from a Jewish farmer, we fulfill our mitzvah of Lulav and Esrog and we fulfill the mitzvah of helping another Jew earn a living. His biography can be watched in the YouTube video below. 

 

Rav Shlomo Yitzchaki  (Rashi)
(1040-1105)



Rav Shlomo Yitzchaki, known as Rashi, was one of the greatest people who
wrote comments on the whole Torah. 
Rashi’s work has become a big, big part of our lives today, explaining many parts of
the Torah clearly so we could understand. There is a story about Rashi’s father who was a merchant buying and selling beautiful diamonds. One day Rashi’s father took a business trip on a boat. He had a most precious diamond with him. There were
some non-Jews who found out about the diamond. They decided they wanted this diamond for their idol. They offered money to his father for the diamond, but
he refused. No diamond of his would be used for an idol. They offered more money and more until they ran after him to grab it from him. Rashi’s father ran to the
edge of the boat and threw the diamond into the water! Rashi’s father said it was better to throw it away than to use if for an idol. When hearing this story, people said that Rashi’s father would be blessed with a child who was a true jewel. And so he was! Rashi was born. As we all know, Rashi truly is a jewel among Klal Yisroel.

 

Rebbi Akiva Eiger
(1766-1840)


The Gemorah is part of our Torah. When Jewish boys grow up they begin to learn Gemorah and continue learning it for the rest of their lives. On just about every page of the Gemorah there are explanations from the great talmid Chacham – Rebbi Akiva Eiger. Rebbi Akiva Eiger was the chief rabbi in the city of Posen away with questions and problems. Rebbi Akiva Eiger always tried to answer them. He liked to help everybody in any way he could. One time Rebbi Akiva Eiger was traveling in a wagon on a dirt road.

It started to rain and rain. The more it rained the muddier the road got. Soon the whole road was one big puddle of water and the wagon got stuck in the mud. When the wagon driver got down to push the wagon out of the mud, the water came up to his knees. He pushed and pushed and finally got the wagon out of the mud. When climbed back up on the wagon he took off his shoes to let them dry. Rebbi Akiva Eiger reached out of the wagon and handed him a dry pair of socks. “Here, put these on so your feet will be warm and you won’t catch cold.” As the driver put on the socks, he wondered where Rebbi Akiva Eiger had found an extra pair of socks. The next morning when they reached the town, the driver saw Rebbi Akiva Eiger get out of the wagon with shoes but no socks. He felt very sad that Rebbi Akiva Eiger had given him his own socks. Rebbi Akiva Eiger told him not to be sad. He said, “When I saw you with wet socks, I thought
that it’s not fair for me to sit here in dry shoes and socks.” So Rebbi Akiva Eiger, who always tried to help people, gave the wagon driver his own socks.

 

Rabbi Yechezkel Landau 
Noda B’yehuda

(1713-1790)



Rabbi Yechezkel Landau was the chief Rabbi of the city of Prague. He wrote
many seforim. One of them became so popular that people started calling him by its name, Noda B’yehuda.Aside from his many seforim, the Noda B’yehuda was an important community
figure.

When the Noda B’yehuda was a young man, a horrible machlokes, (dispute), broke out between Rav Yaakov Emden and Rav Yonason Eybeshutz. Most of the Jews in Europe became involved. Some people approached Rav Landau and he was able to settle the machlokes. After that time, he became famous throughout Europe.
When the Noda B’yehuda was Rav in Prague, a war broke out between many countries in Europe. For many years the fighting around Prague was very bad.
Farms and buildings were destroyed and many people lost their lives. Through Hashem's kindness and mercy, most of the Jewish community was spared harm. In fact, many Jews started showing off their wealth. They dressed in very fancy clothes. They built large houses and they made large simchas such as Bar/Bas Mitzvahs and
weddings. They would invite many people and hold parties well into the night. All of the food that they did not eat they would dump in the street. There were some poor Jews and many poor non-Jews who hated these wealthy Jews. The people were so jealous that they were getting ready to hurt the Jews. The Noda B’yehuda knew that he had to take some action. He made rules to help the community remain modest and avoid trouble with the local citizens. He said that people are not allowed to wear very fancy clothes in the streets. When they make a Bar/Bas Mitzvah, they can only invite a small number of people. They can only hire four musicians to play music. These rulers were meant for the rich people. The rich people became very angry with the Noda B’yehuda. They said that they were not going to pay for him to be the Rabbi in Prague. The Noda B’yehuda remained strong. In the end, everyone realized how wise the Noda B’yehuda was and agreed to cooperate with him. The Noda B’yehuda knew that for the good of the people, he had to teach them about being a tznius person. Tznius means more than covering our bodies. It also means not showing off and making other people jealous.

 

Rabbi Yisroel Spira
The Bluzhever Rebbe
(1898-1989)





Rabbi Yisroel Spira became the Rabbi of a community in Galicia when he was a young man. As time went by, people
heard of his good deeds. He attracted many followers who became his
Chassidim.


Then Hitler (Y”S) came to power and wanted to kill all the Jews. His wicked, evil soldiers took the Jews to a concentration camp called Bergen Belsen. The Rebbe worked very hard to help the Jews there. Soon everyone in the camp treated
him as their Rebbe. One year as Chanukah approached, the people in
Bergen Belsen realized that they had no candles or oil for their Chanukah Menorah. They did not want to miss the mitzvah of hadlakas ner Chanukah, so they took shoe polish to use for oil and strings from their clothing to use for wicks. When the first night of Chanukah came, everyone gathered quietly around the Bluzhever Rebbe to watch him light the Menorah. They were all terrified that the Nazis might find them and punish them. The Rebbe said the brachos and lit the menorah. Since it was the first night of  Chanukah, the Bluzhever Rebbe said the bracha, Shehechiyanu, thanking Hashem who kept them alive to experience that moment. Everyone answered Amen to the Rebe’s bracha except one man who was upset he asked the Rebbe, “How can you say a bracha thanking Hashem for this moment when we are so hungry and scared and living in a concentration camp?” The Rebbe answered
him, “I also was wondering how I could say this bracha with simcha, but when I looked around and saw all these people who risked their lives to see this
menorah I became very happy. I said thank you Hashem, Shehechiyanu, who had kept me alive to see the greatness of the Jewish people. They never give up; even in the concentration camps they want to do Mitzvos. Surely these people will get out of here one day and rebuild their lives.” Many years later, the man who asked the question sent the Bluzhever Rebbe a message. He said, “Rebbe, you saved my life.” After the war, the Bluzhever Rebbe moved to America. In America he spent the rest of his life helping other people who survived the camps start their lives over.

 

Rabbi Eliyahu Ben Shlomo

The Vilna Gaon
(1720-1797)



Rabbi Eliyahu Ben Shlomo is known to Jews around the world as the Vilna Gaon. This is because he was a Gaon (Great) and he lived in the city called Vilna. When the Vilna Gaon was a
little boy, he was already a Talmud Chocham. By the time he was Bar Mitzvah, he knew more Torah than many Jews older than himself.

He grew up to be the greatest Talmud Chacham in the world. He explained many difficult things in the Torah that no one had ever been able to explain before. The people of Vilna loved and respected their Rabbi, the Vilna Gaon. The Vilna Gaon wanted to move to Eretz Yisroel because Eretz Yisroel was the home of the Jewish people. One day he finally decided to go. He packed his bags and got on the ship to begin the long trip to Eretz Yisroel. Suddenly, a gigantic storm came.
The ship was tossed under the water and could not go on. The ship came back to the port and the Vilna Gaon got off and went back to Vilna. He understood that
Hashem had sent the storm to tell him to stay in Vilna and help the people there. As the Vilna Gaon did more and more Mitzvos and learned more and more Torah, the Kedusha of being close to Hashem started to show in his face. One time, some bad men grabbed a Jewish boy and they were going to hurt him. Wearing his tallis and tefillin, the Vilna Gaon went to save the boy. When he came to where the bad men were, he said, “Let him go.” When the bad men looked at the Vilna Gaon and saw the
Kedusha that was on him as he wore his tallis and tefillin, they got so scared that they ran away and never came back.

 

Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky
(1863-1940)


Rav Chaim Ozer for many years was the Chief Rabbi of the city of Vilna. He took upon himself personal responsibility to support the yeshivas in Lithuania
and Poland. They all turned to him for advice and they recognized him as
their leader. When Hitler (Y”S) began his war against the Jewish people,
thousands of people turned
to Rav Chaim Ozer for help and direction. He called all of the yeshivas to join him in Vilna. 
In Vilna, he worked very hard to help the Jews that were running from Hitler (Y”S). Many people were saved with the help of Rav Chaim Ozer. Rav Chaim Ozer loved the yeshivas and talmidei chachamaim. He also felt a responsibility to help every single Jew in any way that he could. One year, three weeks before Pesach, a young nonreligious Jew, who was head of the Jewish socialist organization in the University of Vilna, received a message. Rav Chaim Ozer wanted to see him.When he arrived he was warmly greeted by the rabbi who invited him to join him in some cake and tea. I will make the beracha, he said to his secular guest, and all you have to do is say Amen. He then got to the point. Pesach is drawing near and there are many hundreds of Jewish students in the university who will not be at a Pesach Seder. If I make a Seder for these irreligious students hardly anyone will come. But if you, as head of the socialists make one, you will get a big crowd. I will supply you with all the money you need to see that everyone who wishes to be at the Seder will have matzah and maror and four cups of wine. There were a thousand students at that Seder!

 

Rav Yisroel Meir Kagen
The Chofetz Chaim
(1838-1933)




One time, the great Rabbi, the Chofetz Chaim, was riding on a train to his home town of Radin. At one of the stops, a Jewish man got on the train and sat down next to the Chofetz Chaim. The Chofetz Chaim said, “Shalom Aleichem, where are you traveling to?” the man didn’t know who he was sitting next to so he answered, “To Radin to visit the great Chofetz Chaim.” 
The Chofetz Chaim was a very modest person so he said, “The Chofetz Chaim is not so great.” The man was very sad to hear this old man say bad things about the Chofetz Chaim. “How can you say bad things about the Chofetz Chaim? He is one of the greatest tzadikim that ever lived.” The Chofetz Chaim answered, “I know him and he’s not such a great tzadik.” When he heard those words the man became very angry. He hit the Chofetz Chaim and changed to a different seat. As the train came to Radin, the man was very surprised to see that a large group of people had come to meet the old man. He asked them why they had come to meet this old man and they told him, “Because he is the great Chofetz Chaim.” When the man heard this, he ran over to the Chofetz Chaim with tears streaming down his face and begged for forgiveness. The Chofetz Chaim felt very bad because he had made the man so sad. He said that now he had learned a lesson. Just as we must never say loshon hara about other people, we must never say bad things about ourselves.

 

Rav Moshe Feinstein
(1895 – 1986)

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein was one of the greatest Jews that ever lived in this
country. He knew all of the Torah
(much of it by heart). People came to him from all around the world to ask him what to do and how to live according to the Torah and he always helped them. Reb Moshe lived to be a very old man and he was very
respected by Jews everywhere. But, Reb Moshe never thought he was too great to help another person.

One time, a few days before Succos, the old shamash in Reb Moshe’s yeshiva was building a Succah. He was having a problem putting up the schach. The shamash came to Reb Moshe and asked him if he could send some yeshiva bachurim to help him put up the schach. Instead of asking bachurim to help put up the schach, Reb Moshe took a ladder, climbed up and put on the schach himself. What a valuable lesson we learn from the great Reb Moshe Feinstein.

 

Rav Chaim Michael Dov Weissmandl

(1903-1957)

Rav Chaim Michael Dov Weissmandl, known as Reb Michoel Ber, was born in Hungary. Already as a young child, he learned much Torah and was able to
understand Seforim and learning as if he were an adult. Later Rav Michoel
Ber became a Rabbi and Rosh Yeshiva.
During the time of World War II, Hitler (Yimach Shemo) was very, very wicked and tried to wipe out all of the Jews. He put them into camps and made them
work very hard. They were taken on trains to the camps where they were guarded by police so they could not escape.

 One dreary day, Rav Michoel Ber was captured by the Nazi police (who were Hitler’s y”s soldiers). He was taken on the train and guarded. Rav Michoel Ber knew he had to escape so he could help save Jews from this sad event. While the train was still moving, Rav Michoel Ber jumped off the train. The soldiers wondered where he went but couldn’t find him. Rav Michoel Ber dedicated his life to saving thousands of
Jews from Hitler (y”s). He loved every Jew!