| In Sights |

No Questions on a Gadol

“The answer is: He was an adam gadol, and on an adam gadol we don’t ask any questions!”

One of the great zechusim in my life was having had the opportunity to be one of the designated drivers for Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky ztz”l, which provided incredible lessons on what it means to be a gadol baTorah.

One day I received a call to drive Rav Yaakov to Brooklyn, where he would deliver a hesped for an elderly gadol who had lived many years earlier in America, but had spent the last decades of his life living in Eretz Yisrael. I was to drive him from Monsey to Brooklyn and then back to Monsey.

When I entered the house, it was apparent that the Rosh Yeshivah (who was well into his eighties at the time) was not feeling well at all. He had a fever and a bad cold and was very weak.

It was very cold outside, and I tried to deter him from going, saying, “The Rosh Yeshivah has to take care of his health, Klal Yisrael needs the Rosh Yeshivah to be healthy.”

I offered to drive to Brooklyn to give the message that the Rosh Yeshivah wasn’t feeling well and wouldn’t be able to make it, but Rav Yaakov wouldn’t hear of it. Even when the Rebbetzin voiced her concern that he wasn’t well and was jeopardizing his health, he still insisted on making the trip.

I had to help Rav Yaakov get into the car, where he fell asleep for a short while, something I’d never seen before.

We arrived at the yeshivah where the hespedim were to take place and Rav Yaakov was called up to speak. In his weakened state — he could barely speak above a whisper — he proceeded to deliver what was probably the shortest, yet greatest hesped I have ever heard.

Years earlier the rav being eulogized had worked for a few years at an institution whose standing was controversial. And so Rav Yaakov stood up and said, “Some people may be asking why this great rav went to a particular institution.

“The answer is: He was an adam gadol, and on an adam gadol we don’t ask any questions!”

With that he sat down.

My first thought was that Rav Yaakov was not feeling well and that was why he had delivered such a brief address. I felt disappointed that we had traveled all the way from Monsey for this.

But on second thought, I understood there was no greater kevod hameis than the lesson Rav Yaakov sought to teach, despite his weakened state. “On an adam gadol we don’t ask questions.”


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 999)

Oops! We could not locate your form.