Not Just Another Kitchen
The following story was sent to me by an Ohrnet reader:
Everyone always knew that Rabbi Nosson Tzvi was special. After all, there aren't many people who could take a yeshiva and build it up to a network of thousands of people who learn Torah. Not to mention the Rosh Yeshiva's severe case of Parkinson's which would have incapacitated anyone lesser than he. Nor does it take an ordinary man to proclaim, truthfully, that although he didn't manage to know every person who learnt in his yeshiva, he "loved every single one".
One man my husband stood next to at the levaya, proudly told my husband that he works in the kitchen in the Mir. "The kitchen in the Mir is like an extension of the Beit Midrash," he said, and elaborated with a story.
One Chanuka, a lady in the kitchen of the Mir was inspired to make latkes for the yeshiva. For hours she slaved over the potatoes and the hot oil, and she made a total of three thousand (!) latkes. She excitedly sent it up to the yeshiva dining room and then left for a break. Rabbi Nosson Tzvi saw the platters of latkes, and also saw that no one was eating them. Apparently, all those three thousand latkes were no good. Something had gone wrong in the recipe. Realizing how painful this would be to the cook, Rabbi Nosson Tzvi quickly called a caterer and ordered three thousand latkes. He paid for them. He discreetly had the bad latkes taken away and replaced with the new ones. It wasn't long before the three thousand were reduced to zero as word got out that they were really good. The fine young men, who were unaware of the drama behind the latkes, went to compliment the lady on the delicious Chanuka treat.
Which is why, the kitchen staffer told my husband, he loves working in the Mir kitchen. Because everyone that Rabbi Nosson Tzvi knew about was worthy of the same respect, time, compassion, and even money, that he was known to provide to his own students.