Friday, December 12, 2008

Rabbi Akiva Eiger's Humility

Once, Rabbi Akiva Eiger, zt”l, and the Nesivos, zt”l, were in the same town for Shabbos and they chose to daven Minchah in the same shul. The poor gabbai didn’t know whom to call for shlishi, so he approached the two great sages and asked them what he should do.
In the meantime, a certain talmid chochom who was irked at the delay approached the bimah himself and proclaimed: “Ya’amod Rabbi Akiva Ben Moshe, shlishi!”
Rabbi Akiva Eiger approached the bimah and made the blessing in a broken and low voice, obviously very distressed that he had outshone the Nesivos. The Rav’s anguish was so great that he as soon as the davening finished, he fainted dead away! The other mispallelim were horrified and tried unsuccessfully to wake him.
The Nesivos then approached Rabbi Akiva Eiger’s prostrate form and whispered something in his ear, which caused him to revive immediately. As soon as the gadol got up smiling, it was clear that his distress had completely disappeared. The assembled group of men wondered what message had been able to revive him.
The Nesivos explained, “I merely told him that there was no insult to me at all since they hadn’t chosen him because they felt he was greater. As you know, he is the Rav of Posen which is a far larger community than Lissa where I preside. He was honored for his more distinguished community, not for his personal greatness!”

No comments: