May 2, 2017

As we make our way through the autumn with its rain and wind, there is a new perspective with which we can approach the season.

When he was already in his eighties, Rav Shach the Rosh Yeshiva of Ponovezh in Israel, attended  the funeral of an elderly man in Bnei Brak. Although it was pouring with rain, the aged Rosh Yeshiva accompanied the coffin to the cemetery on foot. Only after the funeral was over, did Rav Shach take refuge from the elements. A pupil - who knew that the  Rav was neither related to nor had any particular connection to the deceased - asked him why, given the weather conditions, he had found it necessary to go all the way to the cemetery, rather than simply go to the mourners house, and why he had not at least gone by car?

Rav Shach replied that, when he had been a young student in Europe, the yeshiva he studied at, did not have a building of its own. Instead it was located in a small shul. Rav Shach learnt there from morning to night, and slept there, too. Since he was away from home, he often went hungry, although on certain days of the week, he would be invited by one of the local families for a meal. But his greatest problem was the cold. During the day he was involved in his studies and did not feel the weather as much, but at night it was very difficult. The wooden bench on which he sat all day served as his bed and although there was a small oven in the shul, it did not emit much heat and blankets were a luxury that he could not afford.

One winter’s night, someone gave him a lined jacket. He would wrap himself in it and keep warm as he slept. The jacket provided him with a great measure of comfort and he was able to study with greater concentration during the day. It was this man whose funeral Rav Shach had just attended. He felt it was appropriate to brave the weather conditions, in order to truly appreciate the kindness performed for him, and remember what he had felt like when he was cold.


TAGS for this article: Story | Cold | Rain