The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 28 May 2011 / 23 Iyyar 5771

An Appetite for Life

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Library

Many memories of the late great leader of Torah Jewry, Harav Eliezer Shach, of blessed memory, are often recalled. Among them are touching stories about the wisdom and sensitivity he displayed in helping individuals along with his historic feats of teaching Torah and leading a generation.

One such story concerned an American young woman whose severe diet brought her to a dangerous state of anorexia. With a total lack of appetite she was literally withering away, much to the consternation of her family. When medical and psychological aid failed to solve the problem, her father turned in desperation to the Rosh Hayeshiva of the Ponevez Yeshiva.

Sensing that the young lady had probably embarked on her destructive diet in order to achieve a figure which might improve her matrimonial opportunities, Rav Shach turned to her with a request that she eat the piece of cake he placed before her and added a promise that if she resumed eating she would be blessed with a good match. After convincing her to thus break her self-imposed fast, he urged her to write him each day what she had added to her eating, once again reassuring her that she would find a good shiduch.

The strategy worked. She recovered her appetite and her health and soon met a fine Torah scholar with whom she established "a faithful home in Israel" thanks to the brilliance of mind and heart of this Torah giant.

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