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  Chapter 24 from
The Rosh Yeshivah Remembers

By Rabbi Asher Bergman 


Other Available Chapters
12  14  20 


Rav Eliyahu David Rabinovitz-Te'onim: The Aderes

  • Greet Him With Joy

When the Rosh Yeshivah paid a condolence call on Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, who had lost his sister, Rav Shlomo Zalman told a very moving story about the Aderes, Rav Eliyahu David Rabinovitz-Te’omim, the rav of Jerusalem.

The Aderes was always careful never to keep people waiting. Once, however, he was unable to avoid doing so. His young son passed away, and the Aderes’ grief was unfathomable. Every Jew in the city came to the funeral and waited for the bereaved father to emerge from his room so the levayah could begin. But the rav remained shut up in his room for a full two hours, while the crowd waited under a burning sun. Finally he emerged and said the berachah, “Baruch Atah ... Dayan Emes,” and the sad procession started on its way to the cemetery.

Later he was asked why he had kept such a large crowd waiting so long. He answered, “The Mishnah says that a person is required to make a blessing on bad news in the same way he does on good news (Berachos 60a). The Gemara explains that this does not refer to the formula of the blessing, since we know that there are two distinct blessings for good and bad things: ‘Blessed is He Who is good and does good’ and ‘Blessed is the true Judge.’ Rather, the Mishnah means that we are required to accept bad news with joy -- with the very same joy that we feel upon hearing good news. This is the halachah brought down in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 22:3).

“I remembered the enormous joy I felt as I made the blessing Shehecheyanu at my son’s bris, and realized that the Mishnah
required me to overcome my grief and to reach the same level of joy I felt at the bris. The reason for this was to cause me to accept with both my heart and my mind that everything Hashem does is for the good. Nothing bad comes from the Supreme One. To reach this joy is not an exceptional act of piety, it is simply what the halachah requires. What could I do if it took me two hours to reach that state?”

 
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