empty Stories Of Greatness

Wasted Wine

Pharaoh asked Moshe to pray to G-d to remove the frogs. Moshe Rabbeinu prayed and the frogs went...

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The first national Jewish organization to pioneer Jewish day schools in the US, at a time when European Jewry was facing the genocide of the Holocaust, was Torah Umesorah. It was founded by R’ Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, zt”l, who maintained that without Torah education there would be, within one generation, nothing left of Torah observance in America. Just as Bnei Yisrael were left to die in the desert after the sin of the meraglim and only their children were permitted to enter the Holy Land and continue the legacy of the Jewish people, American Jewry was now the largest Jewish community in the world, and for every Torah school in Europe that had been destroyed, he was determined to build a new one in America.

Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski, shlita, is the founder and medical director emeritus of Gateway Rehabilitation Center, a drug and alcohol treatment system in western Pennsylvania, cited nationally as one of the 12 best drug and alcohol treatment centers by Forbes magazine. He has authored 60 books on various topics ranging from chasidic thought, Jewish practice, chemical dependency, addiction, and other topics such as stress, self-esteem, and spirituality. In addition, he has traveled the world as a spokesperson for recovery on behalf of the millions who have achieved it and with goals that inspire, encourage, and challenge those still finding their way.

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.

When speaking about his childhood and growing up in the holy city of Jerusalem, the famed Maggid, R’ Sholom Schwadron, zt”l, would always insist that he was a wild child. “I owe a great deal of thanks to my Rebbe, R’ Leib Chasman, zt”l, for he removed half of my wildness.” And when he was asked about the other half? R’ Sholom just smiled.

When R’ Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook, zt”l, was the chief rabbi of Yaffo, an immigrant couple from Bialystok came before him. The woman complained terribly about her husband’s behavior and demanded a divorce. After meeting with them for a while, the chief rabbi saw there was no chance of making peace between them and agreed that divorce was the only solution. However, the cruel husband refused to free the woman from the torture she suffered at his hands and would not agree to divorce her. No manner of persuasion was effective. This went on for over two years.

It is America’s most famous relic, a nearly sacred token. Around the world it is regarded as a universal symbol of freedom. For more than a century, the Liberty Bell has captured Americans’ affections and become a stand-in for the nation’s values of independence, freedom, unalienable rights, and equality. The Liberty Bell started out simply as a bell commissioned to hang in the steeple of the Pennsylvania State House. In 1751, Isaac Norris, the Speaker of the Assembly, proposed that a bell be installed. Norris was a wealthy and scholarly Quaker who knew the words of the Bible, and he asked that the bell be cast with the words “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the Land to all the inhabitants thereof,” from a pasuk in Parshas Behar dealing with the laws of sh’mitah and yovel. This proclamation of amnesty for all slaves was intended as a commemoration of liberties that were insured 50 years earlier, not as a prophecy of liberty to be gained 25 years later.