Inspiring Jewish Women

How Did This Woman Merit Being the Mother of Two Torah Giants?

In Volozhin, Russia (now Belarus), lived a wealthy man named Rabbi Isaac who was a community leader. Rabbi Isaac used to travel extensively for his business and would always bring his wife a nice gift when coming back home.

One day before Rabbi Isaac left on another business trip his wife asked that instead of a regular gift it would make her really happy if he would bring home a set of Shas (the entire set of Talmud). In those days a set of Shas was a rarity and obviously expensive. Rabbi Isaac agreed to his wife’s request and came home with a set of Shas. True they were different sizes from different printings but they had the whole set and were very happy to own it and have it in their home. In order not to be selfish they decided that anyone who wanted to learn Torah could borrow the tractate they needed.

News of this Shas available to the public spread across town and every Torah scholar or student who wanted would borrow a tractate. When he finished learning from it he would go back, return it and ask for the next one available. Since Rabbi Isaac usually traveled he appointed his wife house ‘librarian’. She had the keys and she was in charge of the list of borrowers.

Once the Shaagas Aryeh (a great Torah sage) came to Volozhin and sat in a study hall learning diligently. He also heard of the library and would come to Rabbi Isaac’s home to borrow a tractate and return the one he finished with.

Rabbi Isaac’s wife understood that here was a giant of Torah standing before her. She got up the courage to say: “The Rabbi should not trouble himself to keep coming to our house each time he wants change tractates. It’s a waste of Torah learning time! I will send a servant every morning with the tractates the rabbi needs for his learning that day.”

This arrangement worked for a long period of time. The Shaagas Aryeh before leaving Volozhin came to the house and blessed the woman: “I bless you to have two sons that will light up the eyes of Israel with their Torah since you allowed me to learn from your Shas. One son will create many communities and teach Shas to the young scholars of Israel and the other won’t even need a Shas as he will merit knowing all of the Torah by heart!”

The blessing of the Rabbi was fulfilled. This woman gave birth to two sons that lit up the world of Torah and continue to influence us to this day. One son was Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin that made the first yeshiva, the Volozhin Yeshiva. The other son was Rabbi “Zalmaleh” Zalman of Volozhin who was the preeminent Torah scholar of the generation knowing all or the Torah by heart.

this week's torah portion
 Volozhin Yeshiva Wikipedia, Author unknown

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