In addition to his greatness in Torah learning, R’ Avrohom Genichovski, zt”l, the rosh yeshivah of Tchebin, was also a giant in middos and bein adam lachaveiro. Chesed encompassed his entire life. People constantly visited his home for advice, consolation, and monetary loans. Millions of shekels of charity funds passed through his hands and none of it remained with him. He was always on the lookout for people in need and would often seek them out. He was known to co-sign on loans for people, and in one situation this practice came back to hurt him.
The story is told by one of his close talmidim, who traveled to the United States and Canada to raise funds on behalf of the National Center for Family Purity (Hamercaz Ha’artzi L’Taharas HaMishpachah), an organization that is involved in the strengthening of taharas hamishpachah (family purity), by training, informing, and constructing mikvaos all over Eretz Yisrael. R’ Avraham Genichovski was the head of the executive committee, a post he inherited from the previous Tchebiner rosh yeshivah, R’ Dov Ber Weidenfeld, zt”l, and one he took most seriously. Under his direction, the center established, operated, and continues to supervise over 800 ritual baths throughout the country, providing them certificates of kashrus.
The talmid arrived in Toronto and made his way to the home of a wealthy benefactor, a man renowned for his generosity and open heart. He described the organization, how it functions, and who controls it. Then he pulled out a letter of approbation from R’ Avraham attesting to the legitimacy of the work. The wealthy man took one look at the paper and announced, “I am very sorry but I refuse to give to this organization.” When pressed to explain himself, the man told him how he once lost a great deal of money on account of Rabbi Genichovski, and although it was a long time ago, and he had already forgiven the money, he nevertheless did not feel like donating to a cause that this rabbi was promoting.
The talmid was shocked and refused to let it go. How can it be that a tzadik like R’ Avraham Genichovski can cause a fellow Yid to lose money? It was totally out of his character. The rich man explained that a number of years ago, a man came to his door requesting a loan for a business proposition. It was a large sum – $300,000 – but he immediately produced a paper with the title and signature of the Tchebiner rosh yeshivah, R’ Avraham Genichovski, attesting to the fact that he is honest, trustworthy, and capable of paying back any monies lent to him. Rabbi Genichovski even agreed to be a guarantor on the loan and would pay back the sum should the man be unable to do so. On the strength of his word, the rich man loaned him $300,000. “Unfortunately,” said the Canadian, “he never did pay me back, and out of respect to Rabbi Genichovski, I didn’t feel it was appropriate to go after him for the money. I forgave the debt even though it was a guaranteed loan. However, because of this, I am not interested in giving any more money to his organization.”
He left emptyhanded and confused. He knew his rosh yeshivah would never allow such a thing to occur. When he arrived back in Eretz Yisrael, he made it his business to ask the Rosh Yeshivah about this incident. R’ Avraham was quiet when he heard the details and would not elaborate. The talmid continued to inquire at later times, always mentioning the fact that if this rich man would not honor the Rosh Yeshivah’s letter of endorsement, then others might not do so either, which could prove to be very painful when raising money. Finally, R’ Avraham agreed to tell him what happened.
“The Rosh Yeshivah told me,” recounted the talmid, “that he never signed such a document. He never guaranteed the man’s loan and never offered any words of approbation. Obviously, the man forged the whole document and ran away with the money. Since the rich man had already forgiven the loan, R’ Avraham did not feel it was necessary to go back and explain what happened to the man in Canada, for by doing so he would be speaking lashon hara about this man!”
The talmid concluded: “I asked the Rosh Yeshivah, ‘But isn’t it important to follow up on this so this man doesn’t pull such a stunt again?’ to which R’ Avraham explained that he knew who the man was, had already spoken to him, and had taken care of the matter. I understood that if he couldn’t retrieve the money, at least he ensured that it would never happen again!”