Sunday, July 28, 2013

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Rav Chaim Brisker, zt”l

via Lma’an Yishme’u

250px-Chaim_SoloveitchikReb Chaim of Brisk was born to his illustrious father Reb Yosef Dov Soloveitchik in the year 1853 תרי"ג. At the age of 27, Reb Chaim was appointed Rosh Yeshiva of Volozhin, and the yeshiva closed down, he became the rov of Brisk. He is renowned for his genius, sharp mind and wit, and his new and famous way of learning, known as the Brisker derech. Reb Chaim was very involved in communal affairs, fighting for Yiddishkeit (the survival of traditional Judaism), alongside the Chabad Lubavitcher Rebbe Rashab (the 5th Chabad Rebbe) and the Rebbe Rayatz (the 6th Chabad Rebbe), who respected him greatly. He passed away on the 21st of Av, 1918 תרע"ח.

In the early years of the Russian revolution, a member of the opposition party was arrested by the police in Brisk. The mother of this man approached Reb Chaim, begging him to intercede on his behalf. Within a moment Reb Chaim had his coat on and was ready to go to the police station. Reb Chaim's family protested, in face of the danger of being labeled a 'rebel' Reb Chaim responded, "There is doubt if I will be in danger, as the police know that I am not counter-revolutionary, but this man is in absolute danger. "Ain safek motzie midai vadai," a doubt cannot override a certainty."

A man once came to Brisk with motive of spreading Zionistic ideas, ideas that Reb Chaim adamantly opposed. When the man asked Reb Chaim to speak in the shul, he was flatly refused. "But tell me, Brisker Rov," the man protested, "what can you find in my speech that is not good? Is it not kosher?!" Reb Chaim replied, "Sometimes an animal can be shechted and checked kadas u'kadin, glatt kosher, but it can then become entirely forbidden because of the pot it was cooked in..."

A meeting of rabbonim and maskilim (Jewish “free thinkers” who espoused removing most religious observance) was once held in Petersburg, in which the Rebbe Rashab and Reb Chaim Brisker participated. During Reb Chaim's speech, some maskilim began to ridicule what he was saying. The Rebbe Rashab wrote something on a note, handed it to his chossid, Reb Mendel Chein, and left. After the speech they opened the note to find out why the Rebbe had left, and read that he could not take part in a meeting at which the words of gedolei Yisroel are ridiculed. Hearing this, all the rabbonim stood up and left as well.

(ס' הצאצאים ע' 193, קדושת הדיבור ח"ג ע' 128)

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