From the series: Teachers of Torah
From the world of Chassidim (Dec. 1983 Ė HaModia Newspaper)
The Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman Alexandrovsky Z.T.L. from Shershov
(Born 1810, died 1887)
For the 100th Anniversary commemoration on his death , the 8th of Tevet
There was a Chassid in the
While in his youth he exchanged responsa and judged under Gaon Rabbi Yacov Meir Padova Z.T.L. who served as the head of the Brisk Jewish Court . In his old age he was liked and admired by the Geonim of his era. Especially by Rabbi Mordechai from Meshminah Z.L. , Rabbi Chaim Solovaichik Z.L. ,the Admor ( -a Hebrew abbreviation for "our master and teacher) from Ostrotza, Rabbi Meir Yechiel, all of whom blessed him with their approvals of his excellent documented findings. So excellent were these findings that they were granted a place on a table fit for the kings , so to speak . In particular this was true about his composition concerning halachot (Jewish Laws) of ritual slaughtering and examining .
The Gaon Rabbi Ben Tzion Shternfeld Z.L. head of the Belisk Jewish court testified in his approval to Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman Alexandrovsky's Book - Tikuney Shlomo, "That Rabbi Yisrael Zalaman taught many students" (Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman did not hold a position in the Rabbinate and was not a Rosh Yeshiva). Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman was an expert in slaughtering and examining. He was actually the "only one in the country" to teach and judge in the halachot of slaughtering and examining . "While he was still young, " The Geonim of his generation said that "Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman was an expert in the halachot of slaughtering and examining that he knew the ruling from the first of the Reshonim until the last of the Acharonim [from the preface to the book "Tikuney Shlomo"].
In his time, he was considered the most knowledgeable person concerning these laws. In addition, his documented findings were used as mandatory textbooks for every person who wanted to become an expert in slaughtering and examining. That was the reason why many people wanted him to teach them Torah, especially those people who wanted to become an expert in this field.
About 40 of his students served as Rabbis in Lithuanian communities. All of them were great scholars just as their teacher. This is apparent from the responsa they exchanged with their Rabbi, Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman in the years 5596 and 5597 [1835-36 and 1836-37] [Some of these questions and answers were printed in the book "Zivchey Shlomo" which is the second part of the book "Minchat Yosef" by the Gaon Yosef Arye Perger Z.L. from Brisk].
Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman was modest and on this point it is noted that he hesitated to print the responsa in a special book, because he understood from his friends that "It is not proper for a slaughtering and examining expert to stand in the same place with great scholars for whom it is suitable to judge in the laws." Never the less, everyone knew that he knew was most knowledgeable in Torah. As a commonly used expression, it is written, "If one wants to know the Torah very well, he should learn it day and night." One must have the desire to learn Hashem's Torah, which is wider than the ocean. Nevertheless, one has to learn "his Torah", as his profession, day and night [For instance, one who slaughters has to be an expert in the laws of slaughtering and examining, the Moreh Tzedek (- Righteous Teacher ) has to be an expert in forbidding and allowing concerning dietary laws, and the scribe has to be an expert in the laws pertaining to a scribe]. Therefore, Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman spent most of his day learning the laws that pertained to his trade.
His son, the Gaon Rabbi Mordechai Sender Z.L.who printed the book Tikuney Shlomo testified that "all the people who knew Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman would testify that with all his heart he fulfilled the saying: "In all of your sojournings, you shall be aware of Hashem! This was true, since, whenever he returned to his house, he immediately searched among the various books or his many documented findings the subject about which he thought on his way, and instantly wrote his new idea about it. Since he did not have enough time to express the whole idea, he wrote it in outline form. His outlines conceal very significant matters." His friend the Gaon Rabbi Yosef Arye Preger Z.L. from Brisk also said that "Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman was renown in his generation and he learned in particular the slaughtering and examining laws in depth, and the rest of the halachot in general, because he was very lucid and had a quick grasp."
His uniqueness showed not only due to his greatness in halacha, but it also forced one to learn well Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman's documented findings which dealt with various subjects about the hidden aspects of the world. Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman also revealed to us a little of the medical world, as well as the directed destine and different aspects of development of the world, theory concerning the soul and its concealed meanings, about the inner aims of ones life in Olam Habah (the world to come), about the secrets of the Torah mysteries, and the Mitzvot from the root ones to their branches which represent the 248 organs and 365 tendons in Olam Haze (present world).
Another look into his letters reveals him to be a wonderful commentator of the Chassidic Teachings, and its enthusiastic defender against the accusers. A third look into his highly acclaimed books that were passed down from one generation to the next, uncovers a pure soul from the best of humanity. In his book, Igeret Hachaim , the Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman mentions in the name of his Rabbi, the Tzadik, Rabbi Moshe from Kobrin Z.L., that "it is written in the Shulchan Aruch in the section of Orach Chaim ; Paragraph no. 231, "even to sit in the company of the honest, to stand amongst the righteous and to follow the advice of the pious. If one does this for his own satisfaction and fulfills his desires and greed this is not mishubach ( -laudable) What is meant by "mishubach"? one says - it is as the "best of the fruit" as is mentioned in the Gemara. "This is not mishubach" means that it is not growing and getting ripe as a fruit;but remains stationary spiritually empty. But The Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman increased in knowledge all his life and forever grew and ripened as a fruit.
Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman of a Respected Family from Amongst the Cohanim.
Aside from being respected by his merits on his own
achievements he was also crowned with noble ancestry . Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo
Zalman was not just a son to eariler generations of G-d fearing and Torah
prodigies but to a line of Cohanim (priest).His lineage is a certainty to the
point that "you don't check from the alter and above." as the saying
goes. In the preface to some of his documented findings, he indicates that he
heard from his father, Rabbi Yitzchak - Isaac, and his grandfather, Rabbi Yacov
"who was referred to as Cohen Gadol", that he held his family tree
leading back to the first Cohen Alexander, from the period of the second
temple; this Cohen was named after the Kaiser Alexandros Mokdon when he visited
Shimon Hatzadik, the Cohen Gadol (it was about 200 years before the
miracle of Chanukah occurred). In that year all the newborn of the
cohenim were given a second name, Alexander, after the Kaiser Alexandros,
in his honor. The family tree was burnt in the father's or grandfather's days,
when a big fire started in the town of
The grandfather, Rabbi Yacov Z.L.T.,the Cohen Gadol, one of mankind's most modest, was a distinguished student of the holy Rabbi, Rabbi Shlomo from Karlin H.Y.D. He was also privileged to learn Torah from the holy Gaon Rabbi Yacov Yosef from Polana, who wrote the book "Toldot" ,, the Baal Shem Tov's Student. For a number of years, the grandfather, Rabbi Yacov was the Rabbi in the community of Volpa, a typical Lithuanian town. He had to hide the fact of his belonging to Chassidut. However, after his first wife, Mrs. Lana A.H., passed away, he did not want to be in the Rabbinut any longer and didn't have to support his family. Because afterwards he remarried (with her sister, Mrs. Pesya A.H., who supported him of her own efforts) so he left the rabbinut and dedicated himself full time to the study of Torah and the worship to G-d. From that time he was publicly known to all as a great Chassid.
His son, Rabbi Yitzchak - Isaac "Cohen Tzedek"(Katz), whose generation also gave him the great title "Cohen Gadol" because of his holiness and his Chassidtut, learned Torah from a number of Tzadikim.
Rabbi Yitzchak - Isaac was considered a distinguished student of the holy Rabbi Moshe from Shershov Z.L., himself a student of the holy elder , the Rabbi from Naschiz Z.L. When Rabbi Moshe from Shershov passed away on the 30th of Tishrei in 5587( Tue. Oct.31,1826), Rabbi Yitzchak - Isaac continued to study and became a student of Rabbi Noah from Lechovitz Z.L. After a few years, Rabbi Yitzhak - Issac also brought his son, the Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman, who was searching for a Rabbi and a teacher in the way of Chassid. Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman got very attached to Rabbi Noah of Lechovitch.
Therefore, the teachings of Chassidut were passed down from one generation to the next as a legacy. In the preface to the book Igeret Hahayim , [that was written by Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman in 5589 (1828-9) (see further)], it is written that "one day, on Saturday Parashat Nitzavim, Rabbi Yacov Z.L. was sitting together with his son Rabbi Yitzchak - Isaac Z.L. Rabbi Yacov said to his son: "You should know that the dreaded days are coming near, so how can I first pray for my life and my food."
Also in the preface to the book Shaarei Yitzchak that was written by Rabbi Yitzchak - Isaac; his son Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman writes that he saw, that while his father was praying or reading from the Torah "that sometimes father was so moved by a certain word or passage and he felt the holiness and the pleasantness of Hashem's love until his whole body trembled and his eyes were filled with tears of happiness and joy. This was especially so on Saturdays and holidays while he was praying enthusiastically in front of the Amud his spine crackled.The Admor from Ostrovtza, Rabbi Meir Yechiel Z.L. writes in his approval to this book: "After reading the book, it is recognizable that the author was a tzadik and feared G-d."
The Maggid from Koznitz Z.T.L. 's Blessing.
It is told: Rabbi Yitzchak - Isaac Katz did not have
children for many years. He finally went, together with his wife, to the Holy
Maggid from Koznitz who blessed them that they will have a baby boy, but the
Maggid gave Rabbi Yitzchak - Isaac a condition; on the way home they will pass
After that, the Maggid sent an envoy to tell them to name the newborn baby "Yisrael", after the Maggids name. Finally, after a year, the Maggids blessing came true and they had a boy who was named "Yisrael", as the Tzadik ordered them to do, but for an unknown reason they also added the names "Shlomo Zalman" in memory of one of the family ancestors who did not reach the Maggid's level. (After a few years they also added the name "Aharon" for an unknown reason.) They added the names "Shlomo Zalman" in 5570 (1809-10), about five years before the Maggid passed away, and Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman was sad he had to bare all his life the combination of names. He said "I feel two forces running inside me. "Yisrael" pulls me here and "Shlomo Zalman" pulls me there ... "(in Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman's letter to his father which was printed at the end of his book Shaarei Yitzchak ) "Please remember what you wrote me ... to watch my soul. The Rabbi from Koznitz Z.L. sustained my soul in his acceptable praying to G-d".
About three years later, they had another baby boy who
was named Tzvi Arye, who also grew to be a Torah scholar and a Chassid. After
many years he became a Moreh Tzedek (a Righteous Teacher ) and was a judge in
the court of Nimerov, a town near Brisk. Tzvi Arye also wrote important books
on halacha that were praised by that generationís Gedolim. Included among these
books are "Tahaluchot Hamayim" and "Tahaluchot
Hayabasha" which he wrote after the sad incident that happened to
him in the winter in 5604 (1843-4). He passed over the
He also wrote another book about the laws concerning wanderers that contains 224 [as the numerical value the letters of the word -pathway) halachot (rulings) and details thereof which he collected from the Gemora and the Poskim (the rabbinic arbiters).
Igeret Hahyim was printed at the end of this book in one
of the editions. Igeret Hahyim was written to Rabbi Tzvi Arye by his older brother
the Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman to show him the truth concerning the debate
that was going on between the followers of Chassidut and the Mitnagdim (Those
against the practice of Chassidut). The letter was sent when Rabbi Tzvi Arye
was only 17 years old. He was full of Torah and wit, as a pomegranate is full
of seeds, to the point that some of the Mitnagdim wanted to lead him away from
being a Chassid,the way of life his ancestors adhered.His brother Rabbi Yisrael
Shlomo Zalman, who was about 20 years old at the time, wrote Tzvi Arye a
profound letter (of 70 pages) about the secrets of Chassidut. He did this, in
order to stabilize in his soul. The focused on the ideological basis of the
relationship between tzadikim and chassidim. An ideological basis that its
impression is recognized here and there by great rabbis. Also in Rabbi Tzvi
Arye's Hallachic innovations and in his books which we mentioned above. It is
interesting to note that Rabbi Tzvi Arye's son, the Gaon Rabbi Yacov Yehuda
Kahana Z.L. who was the Head of the court in Govorovo, a city in
In Tzadikims's Tents
After Rabbi Yitzchak - Issac passed away on the 10th of Adar in 5618 (Wed.Feb 24,1858). His son, the Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman prepared the book "Shaary Yitzchak" which his father left as an inheritance, to be printed . This book has a rare content and form. The explanations shed light on many customs and matters concerning Kabala and Chassidut. It has 6 sections :
The section of Fear and Love
2) The Section of Prayer
3) The Section of Eating
4) The Section of Learning
5) The Section of Reasons
6) The Section of Collections
The publishing of this book was delayed for many reasons, and it was finally published in 5658 (1897-8). Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman added to this book the wonderful letter that he sent his father in Elul, 5591 (Aug. 1831), when he was young and was searching for a Rabbi for himself. In other letters which the Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman sent to his son, Rabbi Mordechai Sander, in 5623 (1862-3), when Rabbi Mordechai was searching for a Rabbi for himself, the Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman mentions the fact that, "I also did not want to go to a tzadik without my father's permission and without his advice even though I had a great yerning and it was hard to wait ... and since it was dangerous to travel then, he did not give me his permission and I did not regret it,G-d forbid! After it became safe to travel, he went with me to the tzadik, the Admor Rabbi Noah from Lehovitch Z..L." Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman writes to his son that he should not go to any tzadik "before you see me, and I will advise you whom to go to, so your effort will not be in vain, G-d Forbid." The Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman urged his son in the mean time to study books which were written by G-d - fearing people, to continue learning Gemara and books by Poskim in order to polish the soul. He urged to ignore people who avoid learning ethical books by way of trivial excuses. On the contrary, "this ethics is the main thing ,as it requires a lot of preparation to welcome a generation's tzadik". Regarding the passage above, Chassidim mentioned the following story.
When the Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman arrived apparently with his father, for the first time to the Rabbi Noah from Lechovitch Z.L. - Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman was a young man then, who asked "to associate with good people and to be near a holy Talmid Haham" as he expressed it. Rabbi Noach stood and asked him: "Why did you come here? If you are a Lamdan (learner), here are the Talmud Bavli and Yerushalmi and the rest of the books that were written by G-d fearing people. Even if you are a common Baal Bayit, you can study the books "Kav Hayashar" or "Tzeinah Ureinah" ... "But I have to open my heart," replied the young student, Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman with a trembling voice. Rabbi Noah said: "We learn the first Chassidim used to wait one hour before they start praying in order to direct their heart to G-d. - What did they do in that hour? They pleaded with G-d to help them while praying so they'll be able to direct their hearts to G-d. Rabbi Noah's speech was very short, but the few words deeply moved Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman, and when he left the Tzadik's room, the Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman stood outside and cried for three hours. People said about his crying: This purifying cry was his first immersion in the Lehovitch's river of life, Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman only mentioned a few ideas in the name of Rabbi Noah from Lechovitch in his ideological documented findings.
It is known that Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman consolidated his thoughts by himself from Kabalah and books on Chassidut which were written in the generations of the Rishonim. Only scantily did Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman quote Rabbi Noah in certain matters, for instance: "he used to warn, his followers a lot, of the correct time in which to recite the Kriat Shma and the prayer, Or hadash al tzion taair, is not said in the blessing "yotzair" according to Chassidic custom (on this same matter it is known that when the holy Rabbi Moshe from Kobrin Z.L. heard a person saying "Or hadash... ." Rabbi Moshe turned to him in amazement and said "Is the Lechovitch version distasteful to you"? The chassidic soul however, the inner point, which is compatible to Torah Sheb'al Peh (- the oral teachings), he did gain in Lechovitch. The Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman also told his son at the end of his letter that he also brought to Chassidut his brother-in-law, Rabbi Aharon Z.L. from Sameitich [Rabbi Aharon was married in Shershov to the Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman's Sister-in-law, Miss Sarah Rachel A.H., the daughter of the "Sharpwitted Rabbi", Rabbi Yosef from Kominitz . Rabbi Aharon in the beginning "had many questions about the Chassidim - because he grew up among Mitnagdim - and when he learned with me for some weeks in the talmud and poskim, he sometimes presented his questions about the Chassidic mannerisms. I showed him that his questions are without substance and that Chassidic mannerisims is not a superficial consideration." "My brother-in-law went with me to the holy Rabbi Noah from Lechovitch when he came to spend the Shabbat in Kobrin. He was amazed when he saw Rabbi Noach's holiness and devotion to G-d such that he started to adopt the Chassidic mannerisms. He became a diligent Yeshiva Scholar, who feared G-d and served him with fear and love...".
The Transformation of The Grandson of the Gaon from Vohlozin ,Rabbi Hayim Z.L., to Chassidut
The Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman tells of an interesting episode to his son in the letter how he became a defender of Chassidut when he was about 20 years old. It happened when he met the Gaon Rabbi Eliyahu, the son of Rabbi Yosef from Shershov and the grandson to the the Gaon Rabbi Chaim from Vohlozin Z.L. who wrote the introduction to the book "Nefesh Hahaim"). Rabbi Eliyahu lived in the same town as the Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman and was a diligent Torah Scholar who never conversed on secular topics in the Holy Language-Hebrew . He only spoke in Hebrew while he was learning with his excellent students in his Beit Midrash (house of study) . The Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman met Rabbi Eliyahu incidentally, when Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman found in his Yora Deah copy a handwritten note which he did not understand, Rabbi Eliyahu told him that it was not his handwriting, but took the opportunity to ask the Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman a question about what he was studying at the time in the Magain Avraham , Hillchot Pesach and said " I have not found anyone who can give me an answer ." The Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman told Rabbi Eliyahu what he thought was the right answer to his question and Rabbi Eliyahu liked that answer so much that he asked the Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman: "Why is this, that I do not know his Honor, after I see that he has the ability to understand the Torah?" The Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman answered him: "because I am the son of a Chassid and the grandson of a Chassid and his Honor is a Mithaged's son and a Mithaged's grandson. And even though I am younger than his Honor (because Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman was 40 years old then) I did not have enough courage to come before him."
Rabbi Eliyahu answered him: "This is not a good way because there is one Torah for all of us, and the shy does not learn." After that, Rabbi Eliyahu took Rabbi Yisral Zalman to his house to a room of solitude and "began asking from one matter to another, about the Chassidic customs and their teachings. I answered his questions according to a study into his books... ." They continued to meet many times with every opportunity "until he was attached to me with true love." Later the Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman tells that this event happened 2 weeks before Pesach. On the night of Pesach, Rabbi Eliyahu came to our Beit Midrash in order to say "Hallel" after the Evening ) Prayers, as was the custom to say with the whole congregation in melody and intense devoation... He also came on the next day to sing "Yedid Nefesh" and holiday tunes with our people, and he held by all the Chassidic customs and the changes in version of the prayers...and he said that I really brought him to life with things that were unknown to him until now..."
The Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman's letters were considered a precious pearl in Chassidut liturature. In one item of his literature from the year 5644, (1883-4) the tells of the merit of the one who wrote the "Kidushat Levi" and tells that he himself knew "one old rabbi from our community, who was a teacher and did slaughtering and checking as well. He was one of the students of the holy Rabbi from Barditchev "and he told me "about the wonders of the Holy Rabbi from Barditchev's teachings and of his work day and night."
In a letter to his son who asked what he saw and heard by
the Magid from Trisk Z.L. the Gaon Rabbi Yisrael says, "Things like these
are not given to being written." He was satisfied with the following
sentence: "Well, I will say, that a work as the one I saw by him, I did
not see from the time I was by the holy Rabbi Noah from Lehovitch.Many reformed
their ways and considered repentance for the depths of their heart when they
heard his voice in prayer and while he taught
We did not get more details about Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman's associations with the Magid from Trisk Z.L. This matter took place at a time when the Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman was already older. In contrast, it is known that after the Rabbi from Lechovitch Z.L. passed away. When Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman was a young man, 23 years old, he continued to be loyal to Rabbi Noah's successor, the Rabbi from Kobrin Z.L., for 25 years.
After the Rabbi from Kobrin passed away in 5618 (1857-8). Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman followed for another 26 years the student of the Rabbi from Kobrin, the holy Rabbi from Slonim Z.L.., who wrote the book "Yesod Haavoda" . The versitile† scholar.The Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman's son, Rabbi Mordechai Sender from Sokoloki who learned Torah from him, indicates that "it was known to all the people who came through the gates of my dear father's home and especially to his students concerning my father's studying, persistence, and the things he wrote about the studies of GEFET( acronym for Gemarah, Poskim, and the Tannach) and also about the studying of Pharmacy and cooking, and especially writings on the medical sciences.
There was not one topic in the world that Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman would study deeply and not succeed in. The Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman's great knowledgwe in the Torah turned into expression, which was preserved even in the following generations in the hallachic essays that he wrote. He mentions in the introduction to "Zivchey Shlomo" [which was added, as mentioned before, to the book: "Minchat Yosef"], that he wanted to give the people who do the slaughtering and checking an entire book about the lung examining rules in the same form that the "Shulchan Aruch" gives them. His troubles though, held him back and the Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman settled for the supplementing which his book, "Tikuney Shlomo" provided for the book, "Ohel Yitzchak", which lacked information. The remaining Gedolim of that generation ordered every person, who learns slaughtering and checking, not to learn from "Ohel Yitzchak" without learning from "Tikuney Shlomo" as well. The Rabbi Mordechai Gimpel Yaffe Z.L. who was the head of court in of Ruzhany tried to get people to print both books together in one book. The Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman also wrote the book, "Beit Yisrael" , which contained explanations for topics in the Talmud, for the Maharsha's innovations, and for the Shah and the Taz [Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman's son, Rabbi Mordecai Sender mentions this book in the introduction to the book Tikuney Shlomo, but we don't know if his father managed to print "Beit Yisrael" ] The Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman also wrote the book, "Hamazkir" ), so people will be able to briefly review the halachot of slaughtering and checking. This book was printed together with the book Ohel Yitzchak Hashalem . The Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman's greatness in the rest of the sciences was expressed in his medical specialization. Nobody knew how and when he obtained his knowledge in the medical sciences, but it was rumored that he knew the Rambam's (-Maimonides) medical books thoroughly.For a fact: jews and non-jews alike came to be cured by him. Others even asked him to come to the hospitals. The distinglished Rabbi Yitzchak Matityahu Sandberg Z.L. from Tveria, the son-in-law of Rabbi from Kobrin [who was the author of the book "Nir" ], told once, from personal knowledge that Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman came to his grandfather ,the "Yesod Ha'avoda" ), to complain that sometimes he is annoyed by his visits to certain patients and that he suffers from spiritual disturbances. Nevertheless, the Admor urged him to continue doing his good deeds and as means against thoughts and reflections which annoyed him, his grandfather stood and recited before the Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman, the passage: "Your lips, my bride, drip honey: honey and milk are under your tongue."(Song of songs 4:11). In the beginning, Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman did not understand what the Rabbi meant when he said this passage, but days later, when he felt that the thoughs which before annoyed him left him, he understood what was happening here. Being so impressed by what happened to him, he told one of his friends about it, but to his grief the annoying thoughts reentered his mind immediately after that. When Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman went again to the Rabbi, the Rabbi complained bitterly to him for revealing what happened: "Did not I tell you explicitly "Honey and Milk"- "are under your tongue" ?
Sacrifices for G-d -A Broken Spirit.
In the book "Torath Avot"), in the chapter about tshuva, the following story was told. One day when the Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman was already older, he went to his Rabbi, the "Yesod Ha'avoda" , and poured out his heart: "All my life I am doing repentance, nevertheless, I have not yet been fortunate to feel a change for the better." As the one who says: What is going to be at the end of my life? His Rabbi answered him with a fable: " There is a person who is drowning in the mud and tries to pull himself out. He tries to take one step, and then another, And even though he is mostly sunk in the mud, he is getting closer little by little to the end of the swamp, to the dry land... No step is in vain. "
Every Person who reads the letter of faith that the Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman wrote to his father when he was 21 years old, and in it a continious description of his bitterness about the leven in the dough that delays - and that he looks but doesn't a way to repent from his "sins" and "defects".One can clearly see how the Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman made a complete circle of his ways with a lot of consistency all his life. In his days of youth as in his old age, he was convinced that he is still "standing before the Al'ef (Alef is the first letter of the hebrew alphabet). Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman alway felt he was at the beginning of the truthful way to conduct life , never being able to advance .But maybe after all that is the correct feeling for a truly rightous person? Chassidim rightly quoted in regard to him, from the commentary on the Gemorah of the Tzadik from Barditzev Z.L."In a place that Baaly Tshuva are standing absolute tzadikim cannot stand." These absolute tzadikim are "complete tzadikim" who imagine that they have completed their deeds. "Baaley Tshuva " are really tzadikim who have never sinned and never the less devote their lives to repent . More is told in "Torat Avot" : When Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman got older he yearned to make aliyah to Eretz Yisrael . He went to the author of "Yesod Haavoda" and presented his thoughts. He answered Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman: "I also yearn to make aliyah, but it is written in the Gemarah, "In which situation does a person become a real Baal Tshuva? At the same time and place that he committed a sin!" " Therefore, I cannot leave my place without making tshuva..." Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman understood from the Admor's speech that he had to give up the idea to make aliyah to Eretz Yisrael and stayed in the Diaspora until his last day. His son, Rabbi Mordechai Sender Z.L. tells "that his father used to scorn pleasures ,everything material and the treasures the world were not worth, in his eyes, one idea and one custom of the Torah." Even the Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman himself revealed to his family before he passed away that from the day he matured he was careful about three things:
He did not lie.
B) He did not take an oath ,in any form as:"On my belief...etc".
C) He did not curse a person in the world.
On the 8th of Tevet, in the year 5647 (Jan. 4, 1887), Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman handed over his soul to G-d. The chapter on the life of the Gaon and holy Rabbi was compleated. He was one of the first Chassidim in Lithuania who gave explanations, in his documented findings, to all especially the people who do slaughtering and checking and to the Morey Tzedek (rightous teachers (of his day in the halachot of allowing and forbidding dietary matters . He was already recognized in his life as "the master of laws of terfot . Though, at the same time he still had humility to the point of subservience in the dirt at the feet of that generation's Tzadikim, until he passed away, when he was 77 years old.
His Rabbi, Rabbi Moshe from Kobrin Z.L. used to say: "King David A.H. was an execellent slaughter. Because King David saw that he could not control his natural urges he stood on it and slaughtered it. How did he slaughter it? By standing on it." And until today we eat from what he slaughtered [according to "Torat Avot" ), page 181.]
Many observant Jews who followed Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman's Z.L. way were blessed by the Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman's blessed sacrifice -"In both its literal and midrashic meaning: the Gaon Rabbi Yisrael Shlomo Zalman used to sacrifice his natural urges and offered it to G-d on an alter which was built from his broken heart.
Z.L. = in blessed memory
H.Y.D = may G-d revenge his blood
A.H = of peacefull rememberance
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