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Living Higher: “Shalom Aleichem, Rebbe”

“The ahavas Torah I gained from that brief encounter reminded me of a story” 

Rav Pinchas Hirschprung, the venerated, humble rav of Montreal who was one of Rav Meir Shapiro’s prime talmidim, was mesayem Shas again and again, but he would only make one formal siyum each year — on the 27th of Teves, yahrtzeit of his dear friend and partner in building Montreal’s Torah community, Mr. Shlomo Drazin. In time, that would be Rav Hirschprung’s yahrtzeit as well.

This year, the annual kehillah gathering was held online, with a special guest address from Rav Daniel Alter, son of Rav Hirschprung’s dear friend, the Pnei Menachem of Gur.

In his derashah, Rav Daniel recalled a visit from the Montrealer Rav to his father. Before the two gedolim spoke, Rav Hirschprung asked the teenage bochur what he was learning.

“The ahavas Torah I gained from that brief encounter reminded me of a story,” Rav Daniel reflected, recounting how the Sfas Emes once met a very simple Jew, who called out, “Shalom aleichem, Rebbe.”

“With what am I your Rebbe?” wondered the Sfas Emes.

His grandson, the Bais Yisrael, remarked that the Sfas Emes was right, for this simple Jew had not learned anything from him. But the man was also right, for just seeing the radiant, holy face of the Sfas Emes no doubt had an effect on him and elevated him, which indeed made the Sfas Emes “his Rebbe.”

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 844)

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