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The Hidden Healer 

A year since the passing of Doctor Yaakov Greenwald, healer of psyches and souls

Photos: Family archives

 

It’s a dance, this job, between trying to tell people something they don’t know about names they recognize and trying to persuade them to take a moment and learn something about those they’ve never heard.

And every once in a while, there’s a story that combines both: you get to tell them about a person they think they know, but it turns out they don’t know it all.

The name of Dr. Yaakov Greenwald was fairly prominent. In an era before therapy and psychology were a thing in the frum community — in fact, even in the era before that era — he was already sitting with people, one after another, listening and diagnosing and prescribing, a rofei nefashos who believed in the neshamah too.

The Greenwald brothers were legendary figures in the world of chinuch, summer camp, and activism. There was Yaakov, a psychiatrist who helped hundreds; Ronnie, an international diplomat and early advocate of the abused and broken; and Sidney, builder of Laniado Hospital, a confidante of the Klausenberger Rebbe, and pioneer of frum healthcare. In addition to founding Camp Kol-Ree-Nah, Reb Yaakov authored a sefer featuring his exchange of letters with the Steipler Gaon regarding mental health issues, primarily in bochurim.

Not really, though.

Last year, during the hectic days just after Pesach, he slipped away. A small tribute appeared in Hamodia, two paragraphs.

Because this man, this giant of a man, this great healer — operated behind closed doors, in a realm behind layers of confidentiality and discretion. How would anyone know?

But during the shivah, they came, a stream of healthy, successful, accomplished adults — roshei yeshivah, rabbanim, askanim, dedicated husbands and fathers — they came up the stairs of the shivah house in Lakewood, looked around the room and then quickly whispered HaMakom.

One, a revered figure in a frock, with wise eyes and snowy white beard, said, “Others should say it, but they won’t, veil zei shemmen zich, they are embarrassed. But it needs to be said: He helped so many of us, with our talmidim, with our children… and with ourselves.”

This is the story of that man, the one you didn’t know.

 

It’s over one hundred degrees outside the office of Reb Itche Meir Greenwald, one of Lakewood’s more prominent caterers, and inside, the air conditioner is broken. The office is a ruckus, with upcoming baalei simchah coming to discuss menus, past baalei simchah bringing payment, hall managers and food designers and a drink salesman coming through with shouted questions.

But when Reb Itche Meir starts talking about his father, calm settles on the room, suddenly, and even the climate inside is somehow soothing. His assistants go out and deal with the questions. In the office, the door is closed and my host is speaking with a burning intensity, seriousness audible in every word.

“How did I know that my father was a gadol? Because I saw the way gedolim reacted to him: That was enough.”

As a teenager, Itche Meir was in a car accident one summer, and he was fortunate to emerge without serious injury. His father suggested he acknowledge the Divine favor with a kabbalah.

“He had heard about the Manchester rosh yeshivah, Rav Yehuda Zev Segal, and thought it would be good for me to learn by Rav Segal for Elul zeman, that would be a suitable kabbalah. I went until after Yom Kippur, and came home all fired up about the rosh yeshivah, whom my father had never met. He was intrigued.”

Then the rosh yeshivah came to Monsey for a chasunah and Monsey residents took advantage of his visit to go see him and receive brachos.

Reb Yaakov went as well. Rav Segal was about to start Maariv. “And my father told us that he had to decide whether he would daven with the rosh yeshivah, or use the time to watch the rosh yeshivah davening. He couldn’t do both.”

He decided to observe the rosh yeshivah. After davening, Rav Segal noticed him and their eyes locked. He approached the doctor and asked if they could speak. After the crowd dispersed, they went into a room — “and they were there all night, my father came out at 6:45 a.m.”

From then on, Dr. and Mrs. Greenwald would spend summers in a tiny Austrian town called Semmering with the rosh yeshivah. The “vacation schedule” consisted of Reb Yaakov and the rosh yeshivah learning together most of the day, and taking walks together and speaking bein hasedarim. Rav Segal looked forward to these conversations as much as his American visitor did. Mrs. Shoshana Greenwald would go along, joining her husband in a place “where you couldn’t even get a New York Times,” understanding and appreciating that this was her husband’s essence.

Because nothing was superficial, and nothing was shallow: Relationships, those in which he was the giver and those in which he was the taker, ran deep.

“How can I tell the story of this man in a few hours?” Itche Meir is looking beyond me. “How can I tell it in a few years?

“If I have to start somewhere, maybe you should see this,” Reb Itche Meir searches through his phone and finds what he’s looking for in an instant. It’s an image of an older Yid with a long white beard and sightless eyes, but he looks ecstatic as he bends his head forward and kisses aravos. The radiance of this Yid, connected to the object of holiness, bursts off the screen.

“This is Dr. Greenwald. This is his metzius. The rest is what spilled over.”

Itche Meir Greenwald is a cool guy, the sort of person you want running a busy kitchen at your simchah, but now he’s leaning forward, needing me to understand that we’re not talking about the camp director, or even the gifted therapist.

“A man’s spirit will sustain his illness, but a broken spirit — who will bear it?” (Mishlei 18:14). Reb Yaakov would often quote this pasuk with the Vilna Gaon’s explanation: Through the power of the spirit, the neshamah, the richness and meaning in spiritual life, a person can find true healing. That was his niche, the area that would become uniquely his — a psychiatrist able to adapt his training to the world of avodah, using the tools of academia to construct holiness.

It started in Torah Vodaath, when a bochur appeared to have an emotional breakdown. Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz summoned young Yankel Greenwald and gave him a mission.

“Put on your Shabbos suit, take him to the doctor, and explain what happened.”

The doctor, Theodor Reik, sat with the patient, then asked the young man accompanying the patient for his opinion regarding the way forward. Yaakov Greenwald said what he thought, and Reik, one of the first students of Sigmund Freud, listened.

“If you ever decide that you want to formally study psychology, I hope you’ll come learn under me,” he said.

Reb Shraga Feivel had opened a door.

And along with it came a piece of advice.

“Yankel, people who handle shmutz sometimes get shmutzig, they get dirty. Be careful.”

“So my father, who dealt with some of the most sordid stuff over the next six decades, made a decision,” Itche Meir reflects. “His rebbi had warned him of the dangers, so he found a way to rise above it. He was totally pure. He never had much money, but we had a mikveh in the house, he was toivel often. I always wondered why he bought his suits at Rubinstein and Sons, a fancy store, it wasn’t his way. Later, I realized that my father wouldn’t walk into a department store or mall because of shemiras einayim. He was holy. He never forgot his rebbi’s warning.”

The bochur developed a reputation as a good listener and wise counselor. He was also quiet: The man who would become his rebbi and prime influence, the Kopycznitzer Rebbe — Rav Avrohom Yehoshua Heschel — remarked to him, “Yankel, I hear that you know how to shveig, to remain silent. I need someone who has mastered that art of secrecy.”

The Rebbe would entrust him with sensitive missions, just as Rav Shraga Feivel had. For years, they worked hand in hand, and the Rebbe would always remind him, “Yankel, remember that we’re only shutfim because of this” — the Rebbe placed a finger over his lips — “remember that.”

Yaakov Greenwald married Shoshana Frei, honoring her rich heritage as a descendant of the Chasan Sofer. Though he was a gifted pianist, he didn’t bring the instrument into the house in accord with the custom of the Chasam Sofer — who while he appreciated music, saw the instrument as a sign of secular culture associated with Haskalah. In deference to that view, Reb Yaakov never really played again.

He wanted to teach Torah, and was offered a position saying a shiur and mussar vaadim in Yeshivas Ner Israel in Baltimore. He wanted to accept the job, and he discussed it with Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky, who said, “Your work is with individuals: A yeshivah is a reshus harabbim and you are destined to help yechidim.”

At the age of 27, four years after his chasunah, Yaakov Greenwald got his PhD and started practicing psychology.

Itche Meir once asked why his father hadn’t gone into business.

“I said ‘Tatty, you and your brothers could have done anything and been successful — Sidney had these remarkable people skills and Ronnie had connections everywhere, he can open any door. You’re so smart. Why didn’t you join forces?’

“My father looked at me and repeated what was basically his motto. ‘We’re not gelt menschen, we’re not into money.’

“Then he added a few words. ‘Itche Meir, maybe if my brothers and I had gone into business we would have been wealthy… but we wouldn’t have been brothers anymore.’ ”

When it came to gelt, the sought-after psychiatrist had developed a novel way of billing his patients.

“My father believed that a patient has to pay for the treatment to be effective, but that didn’t mean it had to be a lot of money, so he had a novel solution for those with less means. He kept an envelope on his table, and he would hand it those patients and then close his eyes. ‘Please put something in,’ he would say, and he never looked how much they gave.”

Itche Meir remembers the day it looked like his father could finally make a few dollars.

“My parents lived in Monsey, and I knew that the house next door to them was going up for sale: It wasn’t yet on the market, so I had the inside track. I hurried over and said, ‘Tatty, let’s buy it. Either you’ll extend, or we’ll flip it and make money, its win/win.’ ”

Reb Yankel looked at his son, then fingered the small plaque on his desk. “What does it say here?” he asked his son. “Does it say Yaakov Greenwald, real-estate agent? That’s not what we do.”

Before Itche Meir could react, Dr. Greenwald had called a talmid, a young man just starting out, and told him, “Grab the house, it’s a metziah!”

In their later years, the Greenwalds moved to Eretz Yisrael. “And my father took a pile of papers, all records of money that people owed him, and made a ‘biur chometz,’ he burned them all and was mochel everyone.”

Money was a tool, and nothing more — certainly not a goal. “Before the wedding of a sister of mine, my parents needed twenty thousand dollars, and they didn’t have it. Then someone came to the house with a whole story. Many years earlier, he’d stolen money from my father and he’d always felt bad. He wanted to pay it back, and he gave my father 19,500 dollars.”

Reb Yankel accepted the money and later mused to his wife, “I lost that five hundred dollars, which was meant for me; somehow I caused the flow from Shamayim to be blocked for that amount.”

That money was meant to be elevated into something higher was a lesson Dr. Greenwald had learned from his rebbe, the Kopycznitzer.

“The Rebbe once called my father over and said, ‘Please Yankel, I need you to lend me some money, the Ponevezher Rav is on his way here for a visit and I need some refreshments in his honor. I have to serve something, and I don’t have a penny left in the house.’

“My father,” Itche Meir reflects, “would tell us the story with awe. Not a penny. The Rebbe had literally given his away his last cent; he was unable to hold on to money if he could use it to help another Yid.”

(On that visit, Reb Yankel would recall with amusement, the Ponevezher Rov had commented, “If it was decreed on me in the Next World that I had to come back down to earth as a chassid, I would ask to be a Kopycznitzer chassid.”)

The bond between the Rebbe and his chassid was forged in steel: Itche Meir carries the name of the Rebbe’s father, and his younger brother, Avromi, is named for the Rebbe. “But sometimes people who are close to a rebbi are done when that rebbi is niftar. They aren’t able to reshape themselves into keilim to receive from another. My father always had a rebbi, someone to whom he was completely subservient.”

It started in Torah Vodaath, with Rav Shraga Feivel, Rav Reuven Grozovsky, Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky, and Rav Gedaliah Schorr — he considered himself a talmid of each one. After their wedding, the Greenwalds settled in Queens, where Reb Yaakov became a talmid of Rav Yaakov Teitelbaum.

“For years, these two men — the Kopycznitzer and Rabbi Teitelbaum — guided him.”

In the mid 1960s, Dr. Greenwald found himself with no rebbi and he traveled to Eretz Yisroel to find a new spiritual guide he could turn to in areas of kochos hanefesh, psychology, and avodah. He met with various gedolei Yisrael, but didn’t feel his soul come alive the way it had with the Kopycznitzer.

On his last day there, he met an acquaintance in the street, Rav Shlomo Brevda. He shared his frustration with Rav Brevda, who urged him to join him on a trip to Bnei Brak and give it one more try.

“Come meet a Yid named Rav Kanievsky. You won’t be sorry.”

Until his final day, Dr. Greenwald was overwhelmed with hakaras hatov to Rav Brevda for the suggestion.

The relationship between the Steipler and Reb Yaakov transcended that of rebbi and talmid. In time, Dr. Greenwald would publish a sefer of his correspondence with the Steipler Gaon filled with guidance and insight into anxiety and compulsive behavior, particularly in bochurim.

The Steipler was known to be hard of hearing, and visitors had to shout to be heard. “But my father never even raised his voice, and they communicated perfectly.”

Reb Yankel was the founder and director of Camp Kol-Ree-Nah; he viewed the camp as a chinuch tool as effective as yeshivos, and would mention that perspective at the start of each summer.

The camp drew yeshivah kids, but also Jewish day school boys and even public school students. Dr. Greenwald saw that mix as ideal, confident that the spirit and pride of the yeshivah boys would influence those from weaker backgrounds.

One summer, he met a bright young day school student who confided in the camp director that his summertime goal was to “read one hundred works of classic English literature.”

At the end of a Kol-Ree-Nah summer, the young man was ready to go to an authentic yeshivah. Dr. Greenwald phoned Rav Mordechai Gifter and urged him to consider taking the talented youngster into the Telshe Yeshivah, making a deal with the rosh yeshivah.

“Rosh Yeshivah, I promise you this — if in two months you’re not already seeing nachas from this boy, I will drive down to Cleveland to pick him up and take him home. That’s all I ask for. Two months.”

Rav Gifter agreed, and, even though the boy took no admission test and didn’t look precisely like everyone else at Telshe, he was accepted. In time, he would become one of the best bochurim in yeshivah, emerging as a prominent marbitz Torah and mechaber seforim, and one of Rav Gifter’s closest talmidim.

“You gave us nachas,” Rav Gifter would tell Dr. Greenwald when they met.

So given the importance that Dr. Greenwald attached to the camp season, he was uncertain what to do when he received a call from Rav Nosson Wachtfogel. The Lakewood rosh yeshivah, Rav Shneur Kotler, was very ill and Rav Nosson wanted Dr. Greenwald to travel to Eretz Yisroel to petition the Steipler on behalf of the rosh yeshivah. It was the first week of the camp season, though, and Dr. Greenwald felt that he couldn’t leave.

Rav Nosson was adamant. Knowing the connection between the doctor and the Steipler, he felt it was imperative that Dr. Greenwald be the messenger of the American Torah world.

Itche Meir opened camp that season and Dr. Greenwald traveled to his rebbi, arriving in Bnei Brak. He handed the Steipler a slip of paper with the name of the Lakewood rosh yeshivah, writing on the kvittel that he was donating the money for the printing of the Kehillos Yaakov as a zechus for the Lakewood rosh yeshivah. But the Steipler seemed to ignore it. Dr. Greenwald visited other gedolim and holy places, then returned to the Steipler, again handing over the kvittel and the money being given in merit of Rav Shneur.

The Steipler lifted a pen and crossed out the words “l’zechus,” replacing it with “l’zecher nishmas.”

Later in the day, the sad news reached Eretz Yisrael; Rav Shneur, the Lakewood rosh yeshivah, had fallen.

The Steipler didn’t just appreciate his American talmid, he also advocated Dr. Greenwald’s approach.

“My father had a unique perspective on chinuch,” Itche Meir says. “It was based on two fundamentals — truth and love, which is actually the name of the English translation of his sefer, With Truth and with Love. No therapy can work if the patient isn’t honest, and truth is always the goal — but he believed love was just as crucial. He loved his patients, in the sense that he saw his only role as being meitiv to them, helping as much as possible.”

Ki azah kamaves ahavah — Love is as strong as death (Shir Hashirim 8:6).

This was another pasuk that Dr. Greenwald often quoted: The term he used back before anyone had heard of it was “unconditional love.” To parents whose teenage son was slipping away, he had one piece of advice.

He pointed out that the Torah compares love to death: in what way? “It means that both are absolute and total. Love has to be immovable and firm. Even if you don’t approve of your son’s choices, you have to do things for him, find ways to keep the love flowing.”

He would repeat that advice again and again, because love is as necessary as truth in building a relationship.

He didn’t only preach this, he practiced it. He had many talmidim, both from the formal vaadim he delivered and from among the many souls who wandered through the open doors of his home.

“On leil Shabbos, after the seudah, my father would be ma’avir sedrah from a sefer Torah, and then people would just start filing in, it was open session and everything was on the table. He didn’t receive women privately, so this was a chance for them to get advice and insight too. These gatherings were quite popular and he had many regulars.”

It was common for those learning about Yiddishkeit for the first time to come speak with him, eager to understand how its values fit with what they were learning in university. In time, he inspired many baalei teshuvah.

One of these young men did nicely, growing in his observance, but he hit a bump in the road and despaired. He went to tell his mentor of the decision. “I’m out,” he told Dr. Greenwald, “this life isn’t for me.”

Dr. Greenwald looked at the talmid walking out of his house, a bright young man with whom he’d had so many deep philosophical conversations, and said, “Know that whatever you do, I still love you.”

The door opened, and the student stood there for a long moment: It clattered shut, but he was still in the house. He came back in, sat down, and never left.

Love, but also truth.

“My father didn’t often give mussar, he taught how to live by living that way, but there were times he spoke to me very directly,” Itche Meir recalls.

One of those times was when the 16-year-old wanted to help a local widow, a woman overwhelmed by the realities of life. “I was a capable kid, and I wanted to help her. I arranged for a huge amount of food, and I told her I was bringing it over, so she would have meals for her family. She didn’t want it, but I knew she needed it. I opened her garage manually and left boxes of food there, feeling very good about myself.

“My father heard about it. ‘Itche Meir,’ he said, ‘chesed isn’t what you want to do, but what the other person says they want. Now go open the garage and take out all the food.’ ”

Another time was many years later, when Itche Meir and his wife decided that it was time for him to leave kollel and find a parnassah. “I was planning to open a catering business and I told my father about it. He says, ‘Very nice Itche Meir, great. But you know, you learned well in kollel and now you’re going to work. I want to tell you about a Yid I knew who made a kabbalah to learn one hour of Torah for every hour he worked,’ and he went on to tell me how. ‘He worked half a day on Sunday and learned half a day, he learned all day Monday, split Tuesday and Wednesday between working and learning, worked Thursday and learned many hours on Shabbos — besides for maintaining a serious night seder every day of the week. It can be done, Itche Meir.”

Itche Meir pauses for a moment. “He never told me who that Yid was, but he didn’t have to. I knew.”

The amud yomi shiur Dr. Greenwald pioneered and delivered was inspired by Rav Yaakov Teitelbaum, a great admirer of Daf Yomi, who still felt that a blatt each day was too much to master. Dr. Greenwald once told a talmid that every person should memorize one masechta in Shas by heart, and explained how it could be done through memorizing two lines each day and writing them.

In his own notes, a family member discovered a booklet in which he’d written down an entire masechta, two lines by two lines, each page containing a few more lines he’d written as he’d memorized them.

He wouldn’t preach that which he didn’t practice.

It was his Torah as much as his insight that endeared him to giants of the spirit.

The Satmar Rebbe, Reb Yoel, once asked him for a diagnosis. “Reb Yankev, analyze me and tell me what ails me.”

“I could never analyze the Rebbe,” the doctor replied, “but I will say this. The seforim say that the first time a term or word is used in the Torah, that reflects its essence, its truest meaning. The first time the Torah uses the term ‘lo tov’ is in the context of ‘Lo tov heyos ha’adam l’vado — It is not good for a person to be alone.’ The root of negativity and pain is loneliness.”

And then the doctor looked at the tzaddik and said, “And Rebbe, everyone knows that it’s very lonely at the top of the mountain.”

The Satmar Rebbe was amazed by the response, and it was this reality that had many gedolei Torah and admorim ask for private consultations with Dr. Greenwald. Often, they first met in regard to a chassid or talmid, but inevitably, they would share the pain they carried as well — be it loneliness, pressure or anxiety.

The Steipler once joked to him, asking if he had a pill “for someone who has too many visitors and just wants to sit and learn in peace.”

Along with meeting great rebbes, Reb Yaakov appreciated Toras hachassidus, and he slid easily between the worlds of yeshivos and of chassidic courts.

“When Rav Shach and Lubavitch had differences, I came home, eager to hear my father’s take. He was a real baal hashkafah, and I was sure he would have insight into the disagreement, but when I asked him, he looked at me in astonishment. ‘What’s your last name, Itche Meir?’ he asked me, repeating the question a few times. I had no idea what he meant. Finally, he explained, ‘Is your last name Shach?’ he asked me, ‘or is it maybe Schneerson? How exactly does this machlokes pertain to you?”

In later years, the proficiency in Torah, the mastery of halachah, and the expertise in chochmas hanefesh led to in-depth study of Kabbalah.

“My father didn’t often talk about it, but we knew he learned sisrei Torah. He had been immersed in it in America as well, and once he moved to Eretz Yisrael, he started to learn with Rav Moshe Shapira, who loved him.

“But in truth, all the years, we knew there was something extraordinary about him, a supernatural awareness that could only have come through his refinement and ruchniyusdig sensitivity. He beheld a world we didn’t see at all.

“He once told me about a bochur in Torah Vodaath who’d noticed that Reb Shraga Feivel was staring out the window during Shemoneh Esreh; baffled, the bochur asked Reb Shraga Feivel about it. ‘I’m not looking out the window, I’m looking in the window,’ Reb Shraga Feivel said. He didn’t tell me that he was the bochur who’d asked the question, of course, but he internalized that lesson. His weekday Minchah Shemoneh Esreh could take close to half an hour. He was always looking into a window, even if we couldn’t see it.”

Reb Yaakov was very close with both his brothers, Ronnie and Sidney. The family didn’t tell him when Ronnie was suddenly niftar in January of 2016, since Dr. Greenwald himself was already very weak, and he’d gone into cardiac arrest several times.

“My Aunt Miriam didn’t go visit him when she was in Eretz Yisrael after Ronnie’s passing, because she knew he would ask ‘Where’s Refoel?’ and she didn’t want to be the one to tell him. Finally, she felt she couldn’t avoid it, and she went. He received her with his usual warmth and courtesy, but he didn’t ask about his brother. He never mentioned it. It was clear that he knew.”

A young woman whose family was close to him had undergone chemotherapy treatments and there was a worry that she couldn’t have children; her chassan had a similar background. She discussed it with Dr. Greenwald, who was quiet for a long moment, lost in thought.

“You will have children, im yirtzeh Hashem,” he assured her, “you will have.”

Not only was the prediction realized; her child was born just a few weeks after his petirah, one of the first children carrying the name Yaakov Mordechai.

During Dr. Greenwald’s final years, in Eretz Yisrael, he was officially retired. He seemed to ascend to a different realm, devoted almost completely to Torah, tefillah and tikkun hamiddos. He faced a series of health problems: kidney stones, a series of heart attacks, and eventual blindness. He couldn’t eat or drink, and was sustained by a feeding tube. There were challenges in his personal life as well: His son-in-law, Rav Isser Wolfson, one of the most accomplished talmidei chachamim in America, was niftar.

But he thrived.

He had so many chavrusas — some with gedolei Torah, in which he merited receiving full measures of wisdom — and others in which he was the giver. When family members or hopeful talmidim came asking for a private chavrusa session, he would recommend a sefer to learn together. He had an uncanny ability to identify the limud that would charge the person emotionally and spiritually, be it Maharal, the Gaon, or Mishnah Berurah: The great healer knew how to use Torah as the ultimate source of healing. In all interactions, this sick, old, blind man left the other person feeling like the receiver, the glow and innate dignity and wisdom flowing outward.

Much of the time was spent with his son and confidante, Avromi, learning and learning and learning, the Torah of Sinai, the Torah of life, the Torah of the human heart, transmitting the experience and insight of a lifetime and reviewing notes of what would become a book, With Truth and with Love.

Despite the sightless eyes, the face was radiant. He once told his great-nephew and close talmid, Reb Chaim Ozer Wolff, “Most elderly people get more cranky. Their bodies don’t cooperate; they are increasingly lonely and irritable. But look at Rav Aharon Leib Steinman — every year, he seems to find new sources of joy, his smile grows bigger.”

He might have been talking about himself.

On the 27th of Nissan last year, he left this world .Hundreds — perhaps thousands — across the world heard the news and mourned in secret: Whom could they tell that this man had carried them, had made them believe in themselves, had given them tools of truth and love?

In a hesped, Dr. Greenwald’s lifelong friend, Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky, said, “His entire life, he worked to be meilitz yosher, to see the good, to bring out the good. Now he should continue to be a meilitz yosher as well….”

“You know, after my father was niftar, my mother — who actually passed away precisely 40 days after my father — heard people saying he was a tzaddik,” Itche Meir remembers. “ ‘I don’t know if he was a tzaddik,’ she told me, ‘but this I do know. I never once heard him say lashon hara and I never heard him tell a lie.’ ”

She didn’t know if he was a tzaddik, this man who sat wrapped in a tallis for hours before lighting menorah, who completed Shas more than 20 times.

The people — the souls who streamed to him, each broken in their own way — they wouldn’t tell.

And so the secret remained, the secret of this Yid, Reb Yaakov Mordechai Greenwald, Doc Greenwald, and the secret remains, still.

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 808)

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