The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 25 February 2006 / 27 Shevat 5766

Comforting a Widower

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Library

The great Rosh Hayeshiva of the Ponovez Yeshiva, Harav Eliezer Shach, zatzal, was once informed that a particular Jew who had lost his wife was plunged into a deep depression. In his grief he ceased to eat, speak or function.

Rav Shach immediately went to visit him but there was no response when he knocked on the door. Seeing that the door was not locked he went inside and took a seat next to the couch upon which lay the poor fellow. Placing his hand on the fellow’s shoulder he said to him:

“I understand you so well. I too am a widower and I also felt as if my world had come to an end. We share the same grief, for whoever is without a wife, say our Sages, is without simcha. You need simcha and I need simcha.”

A spark of life was suddenly visible in the eyes of the listener and Rav Shach continued:

“I have an idea of how we can help each other. I know how to prepare a good cholent for the Shabbat meal. I will prepare such a cholent on Erev Shabbat and send it to you here. On Shabbat I will come to your home. We will eat together, sing zemirot together and give strength to each other.”

For the first time a smile came to the lips of his listener who gently protested that there was no way for him to thus impose on the Rosh Hayeshiva.

“If so,” concluded Rav Shach as he departed, “please think of some other plan. In any case I will visit you again tomorrow because I gain strength from being together with you.”

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