The True World's Righteousness
The following story is told about the great gaon, the Rambam:
Once while visiting a sick pupil, the Rambam realized that his pupil’s days were numbered and the pupil would soon go to his true reward.
"Listen to me, my son," said the gaon, "You will soon depart from this world and you will enter the true world. Fear not, for you have lived a righteous life. Your soul will depart from here and will attempt to enter into the heavenly sphere where the Holy Spirit dwells. But guardian angels will not permit you to enter. They will block your path. Therefore I will prepare for you an amulet that will open all the doors for you.
"When you reach the Holy Spirit, I want you to ask him many questions that have been perplexing me in this world. They are questions about how He has been treating Israel and why it is that they must suffer so? When you receive these answers, I want you to come to me in a dream and tell me the answers. Swear to me that you will fulfill my request"
The pupil swore and Rambam wrote out the many questions that had been puzzling him. A few days later, the student died.
A week later the pupil came to the Rambam in a dream. "Where are you now?" he asked.
"I am now in Gan Eden," the pupil answered.
"Did you do as I told you?" Rambam asked.
"You should know, my honored teacher," answered the student, "I did everything you told me. Wherever I showed your amulet, the doors opened before me until I came before the Divine Holy Spirit, the Holy One, Blessed Be He. But when I wanted to ask Him our questions, I suddenly saw that I had no questions to ask. For everything above is emes (truth), and all the ways of Hashem are true and righteous.
“All doubt dissolved from my mind and I saw that everything was being done for our good. I departed in shame for even having thought otherwise. You mortal men, who reside in a false world, have many doubts as to the righteousness of G-d, for you dwell amongst treachery and lies. But when you will come to this world of truth, you too, honored master, will see the wisdom and righteousness of our Creator.”
Saved Her from a Scolding
Once, the pious Rav Avigdor Halberstam was invited to the home of a prominent member of his community for a Shabbos. This important ba’al habayis had a custom. He would give the guest of honor the pot of soup to distribute to the other members of the family. This way the guest was made to feel as if he was the host.
When the pot was presented to the sainted rabbi, he tasted the soup. He continued tasting the soup until he drank the entire pot. The host and the mem-bers of his family were amazed at the rabbi's behavior, but because he was such a great person they kept quiet.
After the meal, one of the Rav's students, who had been at the meal, asked him why he drank out the entire pot of soup.
"I'll tell you the truth," answered the rabbi. "When I first tasted the soup, I immediately surmised that the maid who prepared the soup had accidentally put in pepper instead of salt. The soup was spoiled and I realized that the maid would be criticized terribly for this accident, especially since I was the guest of honor at the house. I happen to know that the she is a poor orphan girl. So rather than cause her any anguish, I drank the bitter soup. Better that they consider me an eccentric than I should cause the maid any anguish.
He Felt the Bitter Cold
The story is told about the gaon, Rav Chaim Auerbach, chief rabbi of Lonchitz, who one night received a cobbler at his home. It was a bitter cold night, in the middle of winter. The cobbler's teeth were chattering as he told the gaon that his wife had just given birth and he had no firewood for his hearth. His house was as cold as the street, and would the rabbi help him out and save their lives.
The rabbi had very little wood himself. However, he put on his coat and together they went to visit the home of the wealthiest person in town. Reaching the house, the Rav knocked on the door.
"Who is here at this hour?" asked the wealthy man.
“It is the Rav of the city,” answered the Gaon.
The rich man immediately rushed downstairs and opened the door for the Rav and invited him in.
But the Rav refused to come in. "I prefer staying out here to discuss my matter with you. Please come out immediately."
The man walked out, clad in very meager clothes, and listened to the rabbi plead for the poor man. Within a few minutes, he began to turn blue from the cold and, with chattering teeth, said, "Why couldn't you tell me this in my warm house?"
"I wanted you to have a taste of the cold," answered the gaon. "This way, you too can feel the intense cold and realize the suffering of this man and his wife, who are now residing in a bitterly cold house."
The cobbler departed with an armful of firewood and with enough money to purchase additional wood to keep them warm for a long time.
Gave Too Much Charity
The daughter of the gaon, Rav Shmuel Mohliver was known for her great piety and knowledge. She gave a great amount of money to charity, often giving away the money she had to purchase food.
One day her husband complained to his father-in-law, the gaon. "Your daughter is ruining me. She gives away so much money to charity that I am always in debt."
The gaon promised to speak to his daughter. The following day when he saw her, he said, "My daughter, your husband is complaining that you give away too much of his money to the poor. While this is a noble deed, you are not permitted to go against your husband's wishes and be so extreme."
"Father," she answered, "You know that there is a din (law) in the Shulchan Aruch, that if a wife is ill the husband is required to spend all of his money to heal her. There is no fixed amount to this spending. Now, when a poor person comes to me, my heart breaks from pity and I become ill watching this poor person suffer. I then take all of my money and give it to the poor person and thus I cure myself of this illness. Therefore, even according to the din, I am doing the right thing."
The sage shook his head admiringly and said, "True, even the angels above would have no answer to this argument.
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Page last updated - 06/26/2009