| In Sights |

Through Lenses of Love

Afterward, the Rosh Yeshivah quietly explained the reason for his determination not to use the machine

Photo: Flash90


once had an appointment to speak to the Ponevezher Rosh Yeshivah, Harav Shach ztz”l, on behalf of  a young couple. They were baalei teshuvah who found themselves moving at different paces in their acceptance of mitzvos, and they needed direction in navigating these challenges. As I arrived early, I decided to go to the beis medrash, figuring that perhaps I would have the opportunity to walk the Rosh Yeshivah home.

Entering the large Ponevezh beis medrash, I beheld the animated milchemta shel Torah waging throughout the room. While Rav Shach was aging, when he gave shiur, or even just talked to avreichim in learning, his vitality and youthful energy were still clearly evident. I watched the Rosh Yeshivah standing up and waving his fists, trying his best to outshout the dozen or so avreichim standing in a circle around him and directing questions at him simultaneously, all at a rapid-fire pace.

When Rav Shach noticed me standing there, he quickly prepared to return home. And while I needed to speak to him, I felt a pang at missing out on the animated discussion happening in the beis medrash. I wondered if I should have joined rather than proceeding to my appointment. However, the lesson I would soon learn from Rav Shach has remained with me all these years, long after the memory of the chiddushei Torah would have remained.

As I escorted the Rosh Yeshivah into his home, he noticed a rather large machine with a headlamp on top of it sitting on the table. When he inquired about it, one of his close talmidim explained to him with much excitement that it was a device that would illuminate the pages of a sefer. The talmidim were well aware of the difficulties the Rosh Yeshivah had been enduring over the last few months with his vision, and the trouble he had learning as a result.

The doctors the Rosh Yeshivah had consulted with had not been able to help him and naturally, he was very disturbed by these developments. Wanting to help, his talmidim had researched different options, and after much research, they’d found this machine and ordered it.

For some reason, though, the Rosh Yeshivah was anything but pleased. He became quite agitated and insisted that the talmidim take the machine away. They were surprised and dismayed, but obviously, they complied. Afterward, the Rosh Yeshivah quietly explained the reason for his determination not to use the machine. When he learned, he explained, he needed to be able to hug the sefer, and the machine would prevent him from doing so. So while it would solve his vision difficulties, he was unwilling to use the device.

And then the Rosh Yeshivah proceeded to pick up the Rashba on the table and hugged it, his face stamped with an indescribable expression of love and joy.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1007)

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