The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 28 February 2009 / 4 Adar I 5769

A Toothache in Time

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

When he returned from his trip abroad to inspire Jewish communities Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman suffered from a severe toothache. After being examined by his regular dentist this great Rosh Yeshiva and Torah leader was informed that a tooth would have to be extracted. Since such a procedure is extremely painful the dentist told him that he would require a local anesthetic.

When the Rosh Yeshiva refused to take any pain killer the dentist told him that he never did such a painful procedure without an anesthetic, even for younger people. But the Rosh Yeshiva was adamant and the dentist had to go ahead with trepidation.

Throughout the procedure not one sign of pain was heard and it was impossible to tell from the patient's calm composure that he was experiencing any pain.

When it was all over Rav Shteinman explained his insistence on refusing any effort to prevent his feeling pain. During his visit abroad, he said, he was greatly honored wherever he went. Since he felt that he was not deserving of such honor, he was determined to seek atonement. The pain he would suffer from having his tooth extracted without an anesthetic, he concluded, would serve this purpose.

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