In Shemoneh Esrei 54 and 56, we wrote about amazing people who made the choice to live and continue serving Hashem while in the midst of living through life’s most difficult challenges.
We present a story told by HaRav Eytan Feiner in his 5766 Shabbos HaGadol drashah. He heard the story from Reb Zalman Silber who heard it from a chavrusa (for years) of HaRav Aharon Leib Shteinman:
HaRav Yehudah (Yidel) Shapiro zt”l was the Rosh Kollel of Kollel Chazon Ish in Bnei Brak. Both HaRav Shteinman and HaRav Chaim Greinemann went to be m’nacheim aveil. When HaRav Shteinman got up to leave, he told the widow that although her husband had been a baki in all of Torah, his utmost greatness was the way he accepted his painful suffering over the last years of his life. HaRav Greinemann said, with all due respect to HaRav Shteinman, “I disagree” – HaRav Shapiro’s greatness in Torah was legendary and is certainly his utmost greatness. HaRav Shteinman did not respond and they left.
The next morning, HaRav Greinemann’s son noticed that his father wasn’t feeling well and asked what was bothering him. HaRav Greinemann replied: Last night HaRav Shapiro came to me in a dream and told me that in Shamayim they agreed with the position of HaRav Shteinman. He also related that because of his terrible yisurim (suffering), he was in a higher place in Gan Eden than he could have been in, and that he did not have to wait for a judgment.
All situations in which Hashem places us are for the purpose of our growing closer to Him.
That morning, HaRav Greinemann davened to Hashem that he too should receive yisurim from Hashem to elevate himself by accepting them with love. At this point, Rav Feiner stressed that we should not look for yisurim; only someone on the level of HaRav Greinemann was permitted to ask for yisurim.
The very next morning, with no adverse weather conditions, HaRav Greinemann fell and broke his hip and some vertebrae in his spine. He suffered terribly and was unable to walk for the rest of his life, but accepted it with love. He told a number of people that he felt his tefilos were accepted and that he had been pushed down min HaShamayim.
All situations in which Hashem places us are for the purpose of our growing closer to Him. Although we do not look for yisurim, it seems that if one has to have them, it is an opportunity for tremendous growth if we can accept them with love. “V’chol ha’chayim yoducha, Selah (Everything alive will gratefully acknowledge you, Selah!)” As long as we are alive, we can still thank and praise Hashem and grow closer to Him.
This week’s Tefilah Focus is dedicated in memory of R’ Refael David b”r Yitzchak Mordechai HaKohen. Much can be written about him, and this writer learned so much from him. However, to respect his outstanding humility, we will only say that he accepted his considerable yisurim without complaint, b’ahavah. Y’hi zichro baruch.
You can direct any questions or comments to Eliezer Szrolovits at 917-551-0150.