Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Alter and His Talmid

Some time after the Alter of Slobodka, zt”l, moved to Yerushalayim, he fell very ill. He had to be confined to bed and all of his needs were provided for him by his devoted students. On one occasion, he needed to be given a spoonful of water to help him wash down his medicine. One of the talmidim attending him brought him a spoon filled from a bottle of clear liquid on the kitchen table. Although he thought it was water, it was actually rubbing alcohol left there by mistake.

When the Alter took this spoon of “water” into his mouth, he nearly choked. As he was gagging in great pain, he noticed that the student responsible for the blunder was slinking out the door, obviously deeply embarrassed to have been the cause of the great Rav’s distress.

The moment the Alter could speak, despite the fact that he was still unwell as a result of the alcohol, he requested that this student be brought before him as soon as possible. As it turned out, the student only came the next day when the Alter was completely recovered from the experience. As the student entered the room in a downcast manner, the Alter received him with a glowing countenance and said, “Don’t feel bad about yesterday. You actually caused me great happiness. Although at first I was very afraid, when I realized that there would be no adverse effects I was filled with joy. The error brought me a gain, that feeling of elation, not a loss at all!”

With these comforting words, the student’s dismay dissolved completely and he again felt at ease in his Rebbi’s presence.


Neil Harris said...

Beautiful. It is a loss to Klal Yisrael that we don't have access to stories of this nature among the Gadolim of today. Most of us have to wait until someone is niftar to read an article in the Jewish Observer or an Artscroll bio. I think that if people could see the gadlus of those who are our leaders today, things would be different.

Anonymous said...

Ya'sher koach; you are so right!