Friday, September 12, 2008

A Few Grapes

Rav Eliezer Don Ralbag, zt”l, once passed by the home of the tzadekes Savta Elka of the Old City on his way to selichos and heard her weeping. “How could my sweet grandson, who was always such a good student, suddenly lose his ability to understand the gemara?”
Since Rav Eliezer Don held a ta’anis dibbur from Rosh Chodesh Elul until after Yom Kippur, he knocked softly and handed her a note. “I will look into the matter.” Savta Elka immediately felt relief; she knew that she could rely on the Rav.
Unfortunately, Rav Eliezer Don forgot his promise, and it wasn’t until Yom Kippur that he remembered. As soon as the fast ended, he rushed to the Talmud Torah and spoke with the boy’s rebbi, who explained that although the boy could remember his learning, he had almost no comprehension for months. Rav Eliezer Don then went to the boy and asked, “Son, tell me what you know about the Savta’s cries.”
Thinking that the Rosh Yeshiva was referring to the sugya of that name in Sukkah, the boy began to recite it by heart.
Moved to tears, Rav Eliezer Don kissed the boy on his head and said, “I see what a wonderful boy you are. Now tell me why your rebbi says that you are not the student you were.”
At this, the boy began to cry. “I have been davening but my prayers go unanswered. I don’t know!”
“Tell me about your day,” the Rav pressed.
The boy related his schedule and added, “After cheder, I go to a neighbor’s house to play with the small children. Their father always gives me a bunch of grapes for babysitting, because his brother has a vineyard.” Such grapes were quite a luxury.
Despite the late hour, Rav Eliezer Don sent for the neighbor. To soothe him, the Rav opened with a bracha for the coming year. He then asked about the man’s brother.
“He is unfortunately not so observant, but he has come closer to yiddishkeit during the past year.”
Rav Eliezer Don asked, “And what about terumos and ma’aseros?”

1 comment:

plain jew said...

you didn't finish the story--Rav
leizer don then went back to the tzadekes and told her what caused the boy's "shich'cha"--and her resulting lament---see sept 9 '06