Friday, November 12, 2010

A Worthy Guest

Once, Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, zt”l, paid a visit to the Maharam, who was the Av Beis Din of Pressburg. The Maharam was deeply involved with a question he had on Tosafos which perplexed him greatly. When the Berditchever Rav entered the Maharam’s home, the host asked his guest if he could learn.
Rav Levi Yitzchak answered, “Perhaps if I led a peaceful existence like the rav of Pressburg and I ate like he did, I could also learn."
The rav immediately rushed to bring food and drink to Rav Levi Yitzchak, who refrained from eating anything. After a while of puzzling over the Tosafos, the Rav noticed that Rav Levi Yitzchak had not yet eaten and asked him to explain why.
Rav Levi Yitzchak answered, “The gemara tells us that before one makes a brochah, the food is not really his. It is only after the brochah that he acquires ownership over the food. How can you give guests food you have not yet acquired and expect them to partake of it?”
The Rav of Pressburg immediately made a brochah and ate, and Rav Levi Yitzchak then did likewise. When the rav asked him again if he could learn, Rav Levi Yitzchak said, “If I am told a devar Torah I can understand. Let the rav tell me something…”
The Maharam told him his question and Rav Levi Yitzchak began reciting Tehillim in a very loud voice and was so filled with dveikus that he literally rolled under the table. When he finished the mizmor, he immediately told the rav a very beautiful explanation of Tosafos.
The Maharam was impressed, so he asked another question. “I see that you are a holy man who understands, so I will ask you something else. Rava says that a woman should daven to have children like Rav Shimon and if not, better that she should not give birth. What can this possibly mean?”
Rav Levi Yitzchak responded immediately, “We find that the verse says, 'ולשם ילד גם הוא'. This means that like Noach, Shem is considered to have given birth to himself due to his many good deeds. This is a genuine birth, since the person fulfilled his mission on earth. Similarly, a woman should pray that they have children that are so meritorious that—like Rabbi Shimon—it is as if they gave birth to themselves. And if they don’t, the children will not merit this level of birth.”

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