Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Quiet Kindness

At the end of his life, Rav Yochanan of Rachmastrivska, zt”l, had to be hospitalized. Unfortunately, he was assigned a very anti-religious roommate, one who insisted on listening to a secular radio station all day long. It is well known that one can still come across individuals in Israel from the “old school” who are almost violently secular. Many others have a great antipathy towards religious people, especially Rabbonim. Not surprisingly, when a private room was requested for the Rebbe, the department head categorically refused the request.
The Rebbe and those close to him were at a loss as to how they ought to proceed. The Rebbe was really not well and quite possibly would need to remain in the hospital for an extended period of time. How could they allow him to be subjected to a steady stream of secular music and chatter which would surely impede his convalescence?
The Rebbe’s son and the Tolna Rebbe, shlit”a, broached the topic on a visit with the Lev Simcha of Gur, zt”l. After all, although the Rachmastrivka Rebbe was virtually unknown in the secular world, the Gerer was a famous religious leader. Perhaps he would succeed where others had failed. Although the Lev Simcha inquired after the Rebbe’s health with great interest, he was not so optimistic that he could help. “I doubt anything I do will change this,” he said.
A little discouraged, the two took their leave. After Minchah, they traveled to the hospital and arrived about an hour after their meeting with the Lev Simcha. To their surprise, the Rebbe’s bed was empty and all his effects were already gone.
When they inquired, they were told that a little less than an hour ago, the director of the hospital himself had arrived at the department and ordered the Rebbe brought to a private room. “The Rebbe of Gur called!” the administrator tersely explained.
The Tolna Rebbe said, “The Gerer Rebbe has fulfilled the Gemara in Nedarim 62, that one should only do good deeds ‘l’shem poalam’—solely because Hashem commanded. The Gemara concludes that mitzvos are ‘not a tool for digging,’ they’re not vehicles to enhance our prestige. Had the staff not told us, do you think that the Gerer Rebbe would have ever mentioned that he had effected the change?”


Anonymous said...

Where did you hear this story?

Micha Golshevsky said...

I didn't hear it at all.
I saw it in: "Libam Shel Yisrael," volume II, page379.
Their source is the Tolna Rebbe shlita.