Where Rav Shlomo Zalman Found Kivrei Tzadikim

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From Chief Rabbi Lau’s book, Light of the World (Oro shel Olam), page 380:

A student in the Kol Torah Yeshiva in Jerusalem, approached his Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l and asked him the question: May I leave my Torah studies in the yeshiva to go [for a short visit] and pray at the graves of tzadikim (righteous people,) in the Galil (Northern Israel?)

Rav Auerbach answered, “It is better to say in yeshiva, and study Torah”

The student replied, “Isn’t there a time I could go to visit the graves of tzadikim? Doesn’t Rav Auerbach go and pray by the graves of tzadikim?

Rav Auerbach answered, “In order to pray at the graves of tzadikim, one doesn’t have to travel up to the Galil. Whenever I feel the need to pray at the graves of tzadikim, I go to Mount Herzl, [the national cemetery for fallen IDF soliders in Jerusalem], to the graves of the soliders…who fell “Al Kiddush Hashem” for the sanctification of G-d.

[Thanks to Caren May, who certainly waited for Yom Hazikaron to send this out. The piece first appeared on the Muqata blog]

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37 Responses

  1. Shlomo David says:

    Rabbi Benschar: Now that you’ve clarified the moshol, I wonder if you would address how it applies to not showing public hakaras hatov to the medina in cases such as the one I mentioned.

    Was that also a matter of the State having gotten the individual in that pickle in the first place — and therefore no thanks are needed?

    I don’t mean to single out any specific family, of course, but only wish to understand how some in people in some communities seem to apply that shitah and that moshol even in a case such as the one I mentioned, where it certainly seems that the medina had absolutely nothing to do with getting the person sick, but everything to do with paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to fly him to Italy and pay for his transplant.

    In other words, without that extraordinary help, he — like most of those awaiting liver transplants in Israel — would have died.

    BTW, an interesting point there was that the state had to pledge a liver (likely from a Jewish donor) to an Italian patient (likely to a non-Jew) in return. That liver would have been used, most likely, to save a Jewish life in Israel. Now, however, that patient — possibly one was on the wait list at the time that this deal was made and whom he was able to leapfrog — will die, if he already has not.

    I’m very happy, as are all of klal Yisroel, that the charedi young man got the transplant.

    I would like to think that the family in question did express their hakaras hatov through private channels and we just haven’t heard about it.

    However, I can’t but think how wonderful would it have been had someone in the family done so PUBLICLY.

    No doubt, their doing so — and its doubtless being widely reported in all of Israel’s media — would have made an important contribution to lessening friction between Jews.

  2. Dovid Shlomo says:

    “Oro shel Olam” is not a book of Rav Lau’s.

    It was written by Rav Yosef Eliyahu and is a book about Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach.

    One of teh stories the author quotes is what he heard from Rav Lau.

    That is what appears on page 380.

  3. Tal Benschar says:

    CL, the moshol has nothing to do with the holocaust. It was about the salvation of the residents of EY from almost certain massacre at the time of the State’s founding, and perhaps later. There are numerous people who argued that that showed Diving approval of the founding of the State. (Same argument was made about the victory in 1967.*) The Brisker Rov’s point was all it proved was Hashem’s abundant love and mercy over his people, despite their sinning.

    It was I who applied this moshol to what L. Oberstein wrote — that at the time post the Holocaust most of the Jewish people were extremely depressed, and the founding of the State lifted their spirits. I have heard such an argument from different sources and will not dispute its factual accuracy. But, again, all it really proves is that Hashem has mercy on His people, not that He approved of the founding of a secular State.

    _________________________
    *The Satmar Rov famously stated that the victory was the work of the sitra achrah. IMVHO, the Brisker Rov’s understanding is far more palatable theologically.

  4. Mergatroid says:

    “With all due respect to the great man he was [BMCHK”T, as it were] RSZA failed to publicize his comparatively moderate views. Had he done so, we may have seen a diffrent type of charedi than the one we are witness to today.”

    Or just as likely, he would not be as revered as a gadol by the Chareidi world as he is.

  5. Nachum says:

    “As an aside and not related to RSZA, Rav Gustman zt”l did indeed tell his students that if he was their age, he would join the army.”

    Having been a partisan in the war, R’ Gustman had done his fighting for the Jewish people. I seem to recall hearing that he was very grateful that he had been personally able to fulfill michiyat Amalek.

  6. cohen y says:

    c) it has nothing to do with the establishment of the state gufa. It is about the generic existence of sin and punishment.

    He was not referring to the state, but rather the UN resolution.Although in classic Brisker Rov as much as was said, was not said.

  7. Shlomo David says:

    I would be interested to hear about the how the Brisker Rov’s moshol would apply to the following:

    A year ago or so, there was a bit of a scandal in Israel when the Charedi Minister of Health unilaterally put at the top of the transplant list an unnamed individual, arranging for him to be flown to Italy on Shabbos for a liver transplant.

    This involved not only great expense to the State, but required as well that the State of Israel make certain guarantees to the gov’t of Italy in order to have them agree to donating the precious liver to an Israeli citizen.

    Questions were raised, though, in Israel as to why this particular individual was suddenly placed at the top of the transplant list and how it is that the state went to such extraordinary lengths in order to get him the liver, ahead of everyone else.

    The questions became more interesting once it was learned that the patient was “a member of a prominent charedi family in Yerushalayim.”

    That patient, for whom the State of Israel moved Heaven and earth for, at extraordinary expense, was . . . a grandson of the Brisker Rov.

  8. Chareidi Leumi says:

    >On another occassion, the Brisker Rov gave a moshol of a mother who warns her child not to run into the street. The child, being willful, often did so anyway. Whenever the child did so, and his mother caught him, she took him aside and gave him a potch

    IIUC, the car is the holocaust and the running into the street are the Jewish people’s sins and the ambulance in the state. If this is so … then:

    a) its a horrible form of theodicy that is highly inappropriate for this century.
    b) the mashal does not work since we generally view Hashem as He who is simultaneously the mother, the car, and the ambulance.
    c) it has nothing to do with the establishment of the state gufa. It is about the generic existence of sin and punishment.

  9. Phil says:

    DF, I recall seeing the memorial plaque on the wall to the left of the main doors (after coming into the building and making a right) prior to the steps to the seforim library.

  10. cvmay says:

    ‘Of course not, that was not the time for potching’

    So therefore, the time for potching is over and instead embracing is now in order?

  11. Tal Benschar says:

    “There is a different mind set between people like me and those who see Yom HaAtzmaut and the State of Israel in stark ideological terms. How can anyone not recognize how getting independence in 1948saved the Jewish People from drowning in despair after the Holocaust.Of course ben Gurion was “frei” and he forced Sephardishe kinder to cut off their payos and cast aside their religous observance. Yes, there was a war between the die hard secularists who ran the State and those who wanted a little Yiddishkeit. Still, without Israel we would not have had the revival of Jewish life even here in the USA. Israel made Jews proud. If that makes me a Zionist, I plead guilty.”

    I was going to make a certain comment, but thought better of it. Instead, I will quote the Brisker Rov, who once said, on this very issue, that Hashem can make miracles from snakes and scorpions if that is His will. That does not mean that I invite snakes and scorpions into my house. (Yes, I know the Satmar Rov had a different shita.)

    On another occassion, the Brisker Rov gave a moshol of a mother who warns her child not to run into the street. The child, being willful, often did so anyway. Whenever the child did so, and his mother caught him, she took him aside and gave him a potch. But one day, he ran into the street, and, chalilah, was hit by a car and was seriously (though not fatally) injured. What do you thin the mother did? Did she potch the child? Of course not, that was not the time for potching. Instead she ran into the street herself, lovingly picked up the child, soothed him and held him until the ambulance arrived, then accompanied him to the hospital to make sure he was taken care of.

    Does that mean the mother approved of her child running into the street? Only a fool would think so. Rather, because of the mother’s great love for the child, once he was injured all focus was on taking care of him, despite his foolishly having run into the street.

    Ve ha mayvin yavin.

  12. lacosta says:

    >Am Yisroel, now as always have had less difficulty in relating to the dead than to the living

    —because the dead present no hashkafic challenges; only the -living- religious zionists could conceivably be a bad role model by their inherently off-the-derech behaviour [ merkaz harav was suddenly not off-limits for the 130 hrs of the shiva]..

    see this week’s parsha sheet from NJOP.org on a similar topic and rav gustman ztzl ‘s views……

  13. dovid 2 says:

    Chareidi Leumi writes: If you despise the state, then don’t take its money and don’t fly its flag.

    I agree.
    Since you were commenting on the possibility of Kol Torah in Yerushalaim entertaining, or worse teaching such attitude towards the state, I must tell you that’s just not the case. I watched a 15-minute video on YouTube (link available). When showing the yeshiva’s new and beautiful campus, beis midrash, dining room, and the other facilities, they warmly and appreciatively acknowledged the generous funding received from the state. (In the same breath, they bemoaned the recent drop in state funding.)

    Regarding the flag over the Ponovetz Yeshiva, Matzav showed a big flag on top of the main building (which is on top of a hill), again this year. A subsequent picture showed not only the flag on top of Ponovetz, but also youngsters (I don’t think they were associated with Ponovetz) burning Israeli flags in front of Ponovetz, apparently in response to the flag on the bldg.

  14. L. Oberstein says:

    There is a different mind set between people like me and those who see Yom HaAtzmaut and the State of Israel in stark ideological terms. How can anyone not recognize how getting independence in 1948saved the Jewish People from drowning in despair after the Holocaust.Of course ben Gurion was “frei” and he forced Sephardishe kinder to cut off their payos and cast aside their religous observance. Yes, there was a war between the die hard secularists who ran the State and those who wanted a little Yiddishkeit. Still, without Israel we would not have had the revival of Jewish life even here in the USA. Israel made Jews proud. If that makes me a Zionist, I plead guilty,.

  15. DF says:

    Phil, where is this memorial? I dont remember seeing such a thing in my time, but could be I missed it. (Or was it put up in the expansion?)

  16. cvmay says:

    “One need not agree with the IDF or support it wholeheartedly to appreciate the sacrifice of its soldiers or their status as Kedoshim”.

    Am Yisroel, now as always have had less difficulty in relating to the dead than to the living. “Achrei Mos-Kedoshim” — many leaders & individuals have gained legitimacy, became acceptable and even revere after death. Appreciating the role of Jewish soldiers can and should be modeled during their lifetime; by offering a seat to a chayil on the bus, picking him up from tram stations, giving him an aliyah (or kavod) in shul and DAVENING for his physical, mental and spiritual success.

  17. Phil says:

    Yeshivas Kol Torah has a memorial to its talmidim who perished while fighting in the IDF.

  18. cohen y says:

    R’Shmuel Auerbach who is known for strong non-zionist views, was asked to contrast with his father.
    His response A.His father was first and foremost a posek,all else was secondary
    B.His father felt R’Schach was doing good enough

  19. Chareidi Leumi says:

    >I’ve heard, but cant verify, that by law in Israel,in order to receive certain funding, you have to fly the flag.

    Not true. Further, the flag was first flown by Rav Kahaneman zt”l. And I believe that it continues being flown out of respect for the former rosh yeshiva. Further, the suggestion that yeshiva are selling out their ideology for funding is, if true, beyond contempt. If you despise the state, then don’t take its money and don’t fly its flag.

    >RSZA still did not encourage entering the IDF

    Depends who. There are many RZ youth who were indeed encouraged by him. I have met them myself.

    As an aside and not related to RSZA, Rav Gustman zt”l did indeed tell his students that if he was their age, he would join the army.

  20. DF says:

    On that note, I should mention this for historical record: There is all sorts of stories about yeshivas, Ponevizh in particular, flying flags on Yom Hatzmaut. I’ve heard, but cant verify, that by law in Israel,in order to receive certain funding, you have to fly the flag. In my time in Kol Torah the yeshivah flew a flag – no bigger than the ones given out on simchas torah. They put it up somewhere near the dud shemesh’s, where you couldnt really see it unless you made an effort. Somewhere or other I have a picture of it.

  21. dovid 2 says:

    “I can’t think of a single “Ultra-Orthodox” shul in my town which recognised Yom Hazikaron or, chas v’chalila, Yom Ha’atzmaut.”

    The Israeli flag is every year raised on Yom HaAtzmaut on top of the Ponovetch Yeshiva in Bnei Brak.

  22. Mark says:

    Adam,

    Where is your proof that RSZA himself observed or honored Yom HaZikaron? To my knowledge, he did not nor was that the point of this story. All this story says is that he viewed the fallen soldiers as kedoshim with great merits. In that, I can’t imagine he was alone. Rambam makes this point explicitly and I don’t believe anyone argues on this. RSZA still did not encourage entering the IDF – his yeshivah does not allow it. Methinks you and many others are reading too much into this story.

    It is well-known that Rav Shach cried bitterly upon hearing the news that a helicopter carrying five IDF soldiers crashed and that the soldiers perished. One need not agree with the IDF or support it wholeheartedly to appreciate the sacrifice of its soldiers or their status as Kedoshim.

  23. Adam says:

    This is very very nice. Pity that many modern day Chareidim in Israel and Galut do not follow in his footsteps and either ignore or denigrate Yom Hazikaron. I can’t think of a single “Ultra-Orthodox” shul in my town which recognised Yom Hazikaron or, chas v’chalila, Yom Ha’atzmaut.

  24. Mordechai Y. Scher says:

    A.P. Kinsberg – before ‘Thinking Aloud’, that notion was promoted by Rav Soloveitchik in a drasha before the Mizrachi (in the 50s? 60s?), and later appeared more succinctly in one of the Five Drashas (or in The Rav Speaks, as it’s now known). It is recorded in Nefesh Harav, and The Rav Speaks.

  25. dr. bill says:

    azg and DF, given well documented examples of RSZA ztl’s seforim being editted (over his more nuanced opinion on the heter mekhira and his respect for Rav Kook ztl), countless eyewitness accounts of personal interaction, as well as his position that areas where some might assert a particular approach being subject to multiple legitimate approaches, make it easier to reconcile your accounts with the story reported.

  26. David Rosenbaum says:

    The Rav didn’t “write” Thinking Aloud. It’s based on the authors’ conversations with the Rav (which, it might be pointed out, the Rav didn’t know would go on record for posterity.)

    There is such a story, though, mentioned in Rav Schecter’s Nefesh Harav, with some background too.

  27. A. P. Kinsberg says:

    In his sefer “Thinking Aloud”, the Rav wrote that just as the clothes of a martyr are considered kadosh, the Israeli Flag has attained Kedusha because of the blood of soldiers which was shed defending Israel.

  28. Y. Tendler says:

    Another interesting (though I don’t know if it has been verified – it appears in kahanist publications) story about RSZA is that when he would pass the offices of Rabbi Meir Kahane’s organization near his home, he would pump his clenched fist in the air, like the kahanist logo -fist in the magen david, as a sign of solidarity. He would do this even with other elders of Yerushalayim present who were less than enthusiastic about the gesture.

    What is certainly clear, however, know is that RSZA was by far the least sectarian and polarizing Israeli Charedi “Gadol” of the past century, and was very well respected in all circles. Many Religious-Zionist rabbis consider themselves students of his.

  29. azg says:

    GREAT STORY………….except in conversations with 2 of his sons, they could not remember their saintly father ever going to mt herzl to actually daven at kivrei avos…………though he did go to kevorim in the north though infrequently………….a kasha on the maaseh!!!!!

  30. DF says:

    Well, listen, I hate to inject a sour note here, but I learned in Kol Torah in the early 90s when RSZA was rosh yehivah, and I’m reasonably certain no one knew of RSZA’s viewpoint as expressed above. There were posters put up reguarly advertising for kevorim tours, and never once was there any trip organized for Har Hertzel [which, the article should have pointed out, is just up the street from kol torah.]

    Possibly RSZA changed his mind as he got older, and no longer considered the fallen soldiers as heroes God forbid. However, far more likely – a near certainty, in fact – is that he simply didnt communicate or publicize his views, because he thought the kannoim wouldnt want to hear them. There were several instances in which RSZA did not want to tangle with the extemists. With all due respect to the great man he was [BMCHK”T, as it were] RSZA failed to publicize his comparatively moderate views. Had he done so, we may have seen a diffrent type of charedi than the one we are witness to today.

  31. dovid 2 says:

    There is no chidush here. Rav Yisroel Zev Gustman z”l held the same way. The mashgiach of Ponovitch Yeshiva, R’ Y. Levenstein urged his talmidim to daven and learn in the zchus of the Israeli soldiers.

  32. Steve Brizel says:

    I think that Oro Shel Olam is the wonderful second volume of a two part work authored by a prominent RZ who is close with R Nevenzal.

  33. sima irkodesh says:

    #1 Who is the author of “V’alehu lo yibol”?

  34. lacosta says:

    let us recall, that in another camp, the satmar rov said people needn’t come to him for a bracha === just go to one with a number on their arm…
    we’ve just saved him from a tiyul to both tzfat and bnai braq…..

  35. Dr. E says:

    The vignette gives us additional pause on Yom Hazikaron to take a moment to recall true Gadlus.

  36. Y. Tendler says:

    There his driver writes that RSZA would recite tehillim when passing Mt. Herzl, for this reason, and would say that he doesn’t understand why people feel a need to travel to the North to daven at Kivrei Tzadikim when there is an entire mountain full of them right nearby.

  37. Y. Tendler says:

    This also appears in the sefer “v’alehu lo yibol”.