Thursday, April 18, 2013

Rav Yisroel Salanter poskened: "It is prohibited to desecrate Shabbos to save my life."

Tonight I went to be menachem avel Rav Nosson Kaminetsky who is sitting shiva for his sister Reb Shurin. He told over many stories. One of them was about Rav Yisroel Salanter-which he also has in Making of a Godol. Below is the story as it appears in Making of a Godol.

[page 1144] In the Salanter Interview my father introduced the following tale with the words: "This is a story that one should know." He related, "R' Fishel Behr told me that R' Yisrael, in his last months of life, had stayed for a while in R' Fishel's parents' home in Memel before going on to K6nigsberg [where he died]. R' Yisrael told him and his brother Naphtali, both teenagers then, that he feared suddenly becoming unable to care for himself." In BIS Talk, when my father also shared this story, he added that R' Yisrael had had this fear ever since he had suffered the paralytic episode discussed above. (Cf. Katz I , which states, "One morning [in the spring of 5642 (1882)] he arose, packed his belongings and left Paris, telling his astonished acquaintances, 'It is not good to die in Paris, & as if his heart had told him that his days were numbered." This does not contradict my father's report that his fear of becoming incapacitated started with his neurological episode. His concern must have intensified in "his last months of life" because he felt his days were ending.) "R' Yisrael then said to the Behr boys," my father continued, "'Children, if something happens to me, one is not permitted to desecrate the Sabbath to save my life. Why not? The gemara says that Shepherds are not to be brought up (from a pit they have fallen into, although) they may not be thrown in (either)] because they make their livelihood by grazing their sheep on other people's property [subsisting on stolen goods] . My livelihood is likewise acquired by stealing: I have no money - people support me, thinking I am a tzaddiq; if they knew the truth that I am not, they would not provide the support. Therefore, I live off stolen goods and I may not be saved from mortal danger.'

[page 1151] "Because of this sister," my father continued, "R' Fishel's father, R' Elya BehrL was familiar in the home of the Kovner Ray, and the next time [R' Elya] came to Kovno he repeated to R' Yitzhaq-Elhanan what R' Yisrael Salanter had ruled. [R' Spector] did not laugh. He listened to what his mekhuton had to say and gave it thought; then he said, 'Tell R' Yisrael that the Kovner Rav rules that one may . I am ruling for you that you may desecrate the Sabbath for him.'"

Rav Sternbuch(Teshuvos v'Hanhagos 3:357):



ובשולי הדברים אזכיר מעשה נורא מה ששמעתי על הגאון וצדיק רבי ישראל סלנטר זצ"ל, שבחליו האחרון היה תקופה קצרה אצל דודי זקני המופלא ה"ה הרב ברוך זלדויץ זצ"ל, והביע חשש לגבי עצמו, שמצינו שרועה בהמה דקה כיון שאינו נזהר באיסור גזל, הדין הוא שאין מעלין אותו להצילו, וכ"ש בשבת אסור לחלל שבת עבורו, ולדעת רבי ישראל זצ"ל אינו מדובר רק בבעלי בתים סוחרים שאין נזהרין באיסור גזל, שהופקר אצלם לרמות יהודים ועכו"ם שאסור, ודינם כרועה בהמה דקה, אלא גם רבנים או עסקנים שמקבלים כסף, ועושים מלאכת ה' רמייה ולא חוששין ,נעשה הפקר אצלם איסור גזל ואסור להצילם, ובבכי טען שנפשו בשאלתו וחושש באמת שדינו כרועה בהמה דקה שאין מצילין ויגרום חילול שבת, ודרש מדוד"ז זצ"ל הבטחה, שאם יצטרכו לחלל שבת עבורו, לא יחלל אלא אחר שאלת גדול בהוראה, וישמע דעתו שהחשש רציני, ודוד"ז זצ"ל הנ"ל הוכרח להסכים, אבל בזמן קצר הוחמר חליו, וייעצו לו לנסוע מיד לקניגסברג, ונסע שמה ונפטר, הרי ברוב ענותנותו ויראת חטאו חשש בסוף ימיו שאסור לחלל שבת עבורו, אף שבבית ישראל רבבות החזיקו אותו למורם ורבם, ומה נענה אנן היום בעו"ה !

 

11 comments:

  1. what is one supposed to get out of this story, besides a lesson in rav salanter's humility?

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    1. I take it as a lesson in honesty. Something hard to find these days. Even those days too. Just go to a Yeshiva dinner and you'll see what I'm talking about. They talk about the honoree's like they are super human. Then the honoree gets up and thanks the Rav or Rosh Yeshiva like the Rav is Moshe Rabeinu. What happened to the Takanas the Rabbis made for Chasunas? All of the dinners are way too extravagant to meet their own Takanas. We're all beinonim ... if we're lucky.

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    2. "[R' Spector] did not laugh. He listened to what his mekhuton had to say and gave it thought"
      This could also be taken as a big lesson, i.e. when someone like Rav Salanter spoke his words were not only taken as him being an anav and having no halachic support.

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  2. Recipients and PublicityApril 18, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    Obviously Rav Yisrael was not "paskening" for the world but as is clear from the context of how it was told of, that he was focusing on his own situation. He was obviously involved in some deep cheshnbon hanefesh. Seems he was paskening a virtual "DNR" on himself couched in terms of shemiras and hilchos Shabbos.

    Likewise, he was so famous for paskening and making the whole city that he was rov of to eat on Yom Kippur, and even made an announcement at the bima made kiddush and was the first to break the ta'anis de'oraysa of the holiest day, because he held it was a time of pikuach nefesh during the time of a serious plague that could take lives. And he was chased out of town by the other rabbanim for this.

    Any tale relating to the baalei mussar and Rav Yisrael Salanter in particular must be viewed as coated in infinite layers of very refined chochmah and Torah and much more. They were living on a supremely different level. What man wants to atone for being viewed as "tzadik" when in fact he was and is deemed as one. Is there anyone in the world who say he is "not"a tzadik, so it's obvious this tale has to do with his own most inner thoughts and was not meant for the mass public, almost on the level of contemporary "Midrash".

    It is fascinating that this story was told at a shiva visit when obviously someone must be alluding that the person who was niftar also had premonitions and said and did things to prepare for their end.

    Hamakom Yenachem!

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  3. I have a question on Rav Salanter's position. Is not one obligated to take care of a thief if he/she is ill?

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  4. Sorry for bringing this up, but it's an annoyance across many websites. The phrase "He told over" grates on me. It's not English.

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    1. http://www.grammarly.com/?q=grammar&gclid=CKPwt9u02rYCFcmz3godhWYASw found no errors in the sentence.

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  5. This is also recorded in:
    במחיצת רבינו [ר' יעקב קמינצקי], עמ' סה-סו

    See also Rav Moshe Shternbuch in Shut Tshuvos Vehanhagos (III, end of 357).
    [Available here:
    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=49820&st=&pgnum=414&hilite= ]

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  6. Anivus is one thing (no doubt R' Yisroel Salanter was a tremendous anav). But what about 'Ein adam meisim atzmo rasha'?

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  7. I don't understand. If Rav Yisrael S. thought it was theft to take the money, why did he take it in the first place?

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    Replies
    1. now you know why he paskend the way he did.

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