Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Outwitting the Sages

Once, while traveling through Lithuania, a certain Rabbi spent time with one of the local Rabbonim in a small town. During the course of their conversation, the visiting Rabbi complained, “I always find it so difficult to arrange the sale of chometz for the Jews of my community. I don’t speak Lithuanian, and it’s very hard to explain the process to a goy when there is a language barrier.”

The local Rabbi was surprised. “I don’t speak the language either, but I’ve never had a problem. I just sell the chometz to a non-observant Jew!”

The visitor was shocked. “How can you sell it to a Jew? That chometz cannot be used after Pesach!” The man then went and told this story to the townsfolk, who were naturally outraged. After hearing this, they demanded that their Rabbi tell them who had ordained him. To their indignation, they found that he was not ordained at all.

When the town insisted upon his resignation, the local Rabbi said, “Just wait one month. If within that time I don’t bring you a semichah from Rav Chaim Ozer, Rav Chaim Brisker, and Rav Itzele Ponevezher, I will leave.”

Sure enough, before the month was out, the local Rabbi returned with semichah from all three gedolim! One man suspected foul play, and after talking with the returned Rabbi in learning, he was certain of it. This man traveled to Rav Chaim Brisker and, together, they figured out what had happened. How had the false Rabbi managed to fool such great sages? He had brought a forged semichah from Rav Chaim to Rav Itzele, who was known to be such a masmid that he would never waste time to test someone whom Rav Chaim had already approved. Once the false Rabbi had a genuine document from Rav Itzele, it was a simple matter to use it to procure another letter from Rav Chaim Ozer. And once he had that, Rav Chaim Brisker gave his own based on the two reliable witnesses who had preceded him!

1 comment:

Freshly said...

May we all repent for our sins.