Jewish Personalities

Reversal of Fortune

One Friday afternoon a wave of terrible rumors spread across the city of Minsk about its esteemed rav, the Shaagas Aryeh. Not only was he the leader of the city’s sizeable kehillah but he was also the head of its famous yeshivah. The Shaagas Aryeh had been tremendously revered and admired—until one person decided to ruin his reputation by spreading malicious gossip. When the rosh hakehillah heard these rumors he decided that the Shaagas Aryeh had to leave town immediately. He didn’t care that it was Erev Shabbos or that the rav and his wife had nowhere to go. To ensure that they left, the head of the community had someone pack their belongings and drive them out of town. The next thing they knew the Shaagas Aryeh and his rebbetzin were in the back of a wagon containing all their worldly possessions—but with no destination. After a few miles of wandering around aimlessly the rebbetzin burst into tears, unable to control herself anymore. Their fall from grace had been swift and ruthless. The Shaagas Aryeh tried to console his wife by offering her some words of chizzuk. “I’m sure there’s a good reason for this. Whatever Hashem does is for the best.” A short while later the wagon passed a small village where a Jewish man recognized the Shaagas Aryeh. He couldn’t believe his good fortune, and immediately invited the esteemed rav and his wife to be his Shabbos guests. They gratefully accepted and got out of the wagon. The man showed them to an attic on top of the barn and told the Shaagas Aryeh and his wife that they were welcome to stay there as long as they wished. The rebbetzin unpacked their meager possessions and slowly the small room was transformed into a home.

What is the torah

As time went on they settled into a routine: the rav sat and learned while the rebbetzin mended clothes,prepared their meals and did housework. One day the rebbetzin found the Shaagas Aryeh bent over his Gemara, weeping bitter tears. She understood that it was now her turn to be mechazeik him. It was truly sorrowful to see someone who had always been busy with the klal reduced to sitting in an attic without a kehillah. Using the same words he had uttered many months back when they were first banished from Minsk she said, “I’m sure there’s a good reason for this. Whatever Hashem does is for the best.”“Do you think that I’m crying because of our circumstances?” the Shaagas Aryeh asked his wife. “Hashem is so good to me—I can sit here peacefully and learn to my heart’s content without being disturbed. I’m crying because I’m worried that the Ribbono Shel Olam wants to reward me in this world so He won’t have to pay me in the next one.” Eventually he was offered a position as rav in the French city of Metz, which had a thriving Jewish community and many talmidei chachamim.

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