Jewish Personalities

Why Did the Gentile who Bought Chametz from Rav Elyashiv Convert?

Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv was one of the greatest rabbinical authorities of our generation; a giant Torah Sage, uncontested authority on Jewish law and acknowledged leader of Lithuanian Jewry. After the passing of Rabbi Shach Zt”l, he became the prominent leader of the Lithuanian community in Israel and abroad as well as the supreme authority of the Degel Hatorah party.
Rabbi Elyashiv was born in Lithuania on the 1st of Nissan 5710. He died in Jerusalem on the 28th of Tammuz 5772, at the age of 102.
Rabbi Elyashiv was unique in his persistence, diligence and dedication to Torah study. Up until his last years he would sleep a mere three hours a day, from 11pm until 2am. When he awoke, he immediately began his daily schedule, which was constantly full of Torah learning. He made sure to pray the morning prayers after at least 3(!) hours of Torah study.
His disciple, Rabbi Yosef Efrati, describes Rabbi Elyashiv learning Torah every day with joy and renewal as if he was studying it for the first time. He likens it to a person who witnessed a very rare event, such as seeing a bird carry a building on its wings; such a person will never forget the details of the event. This was how Rabbi Elyashiv felt about his Torah study; he had such great enthusiasm and desire for Torah that everything he learned was so amazing and significant for him that there’s no way it could be forgotten.
Much of his persistence and diligence for Torah learning is attributed to his wife, Rebbetzin Elyashiv, who was very supportive of her husband's Torah study. Their daughter relates that when Rabbi Shach Zt”l visited their home, the Rebbetzin asked him to pray for her husband, that he would be able to study Torah without any hassles and disturbances.

As a mother of children, coping with the difficulty of making a living, she asked for nothing but this: that her husband could learn and persevere in Torah study without any hassles. That was her only wish.
In Rabbi Elyashiv's last years, a middle-aged man entered the Rav’s home with his five-year-old son to ask for a blessing. He had an extraordinary story to tell: until a few years ago he was a non-Jew, who came at the request of the kashrut committee to the house of Rabbi Elyashiv on the eve of Passover, in order to buy the chametz.
He says that during those moments when he witnessed the unique leadership of the holy Sage, and observed the gentleness and nobility of his conversation and conduction, it aroused within him a strong desire and inner push to enter under the wings of the Divine Presence, and resemble the perfection of man like he saw in the holy Sage before him.
After Passover, he began to learn about Judaism, eventually converting to become a full-fledged Jew, and this is his Jewish son he is requesting a blessing for.


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