Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Defender of Orphans

In January 1903, Rav Shalom Ber of Lubavitch, zt”l, traveled to Vienna with his son, Rav Yosef Yitzchak, zt”l. The next morning, instead of conducting the business for which they had come to Vienna, the Rebbe asked his son if they had any money. Their funds were tight, but since his father obviously needed some money, Rav Yosef Yitzchak went and pawned his silver-headed cane. He gave the proceeds to his father, and the Rebbe left.
Later, a series of deliveries arrived at the hotel, all of them filled with trousseau articles. Rav Yosef Yitzchak assumed they were meant for their family. Later that evening, Rav Shalom Ber returned and told his son to make preparations for another journey. It was only at the station that the Rebbe indicated he wanted to travel to Pressburg. When they arrived, instead of hiring a carriage, Rav Shalom Ber insisted on traveling by foot. While walking down the street, they met a yeshiva bochur who was in a great hurry. When the Rebbe stopped him and asked for directions to a particular hotel, the young man said, “Walk that way and ask someone else. I have no time.”
Rav Shalom Ber asked, “Is this the way you treat strangers?”
The young man felt chided, so he accompanied them. When they arrived at the hotel, they saw that the proprietor’s wife and three daughters were sitting shivah. They checked in, rested, and then the Rebbe headed out for a walk. They soon found themselves at the local yeshiva; the Rebbe spoke in learning to a number of the bochurim (including their guide from the day before), and seemed especially taken with one particularly apt student.
Over the next few days, the Rebbe made several condolence calls to the grieving family under the guise of being a distant relative. Eventually, the Rebbe broached the subject of shiduchim for her two unmarried daughters. The widow moaned, “What can I do for them now?”
The Rebbe made two suggestions: the promising yeshiva student, and the young man whom he had scolded in the street. As for trousseaus, he said, “Why should you worry when I already have everything prepared for them?” Having arranged the two marriages, the Rebbe and his son left Pressburg and returned anonymously to Vienna!


Yaakov said...


Micha Golshevsky said...

B'simcha rabbah!