Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Ohr Yisrael: R’ Salanter (3)

The two remaining defining stories show R’ Salanter as a community leader, as a bulwark against intrusions upon the Tradition, and most significantly: as a man of principle.

Seeing the need to actually implement kindness, goodness, selflessness, and charity rather than just preach it, R’ Salanter took a number of bold community moves. He founded a committee of towns-people to offer relief and rescue for those in need, and rented a hospital with 1,500 beds for those purposes. To their own great credit to be sure, the doctors there worked without compensation; but it was surely R’ Salanter’s inspiring example of selfless service that spurred them and the others there on in their acts of charity.

R’ Salanter also had some 60-70 young people help with the rescue work on one level or another, and he appointed some of them as emergency workers who’d need to be ready to help anytime and anywhere they were called upon. And he made a point of reminding them that they’d need to be available to do their rescue work on Shabbos and the Holy Days just as much as on a weekday. For while their natural inclination would be to avoid doing those kinds of things on those holy days, the Halacha clearly dictates that one should sacrifice his own spiritual needs for the needs of the sickly and moribund, and R’ Salanter underscored that principle.

In a whole other context, a “rabbinical seminary” (rather than a yeshiva) was established in Vilna in 1848 by the Lithuanian government that was to train rabbis -- but in decidedly untraditional ways. Certain Jewish anti-traditionalists (maskilim) suggested to the Lithuanian government that R’ Salanter be offered leadership over it, given how innovative and principled he was. But R’ Salanter refused the position, despite the fact that it would have brought him great personal prestige and would have enabled him to earn four times as much as he earned as a yeshiva dean.

He did that because -- despite the fact that great innovations were called for in Jewish education, practice, and scholarship in his age, as in our own -- he knew that the sorts of innovations being proposed for the rabbinic seminary in question would undermine traditional Judaism and make a mockery of Jewish scholarship. So he selflessly stood on principle again and ignored his own needs.


 

Text Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and Torah.org

Rabbi Feldman's new book, Bachya Ibn Pakuda's The Duties of the Heart, is now available! Order Now


 

ARTICLES ON BESHALACH AND TU BESHVAT:

View Complete List

Seamless Song
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5766

Look Not at the Vessel...
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5759

How to Always Be Happy
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5756

Looking for a Chavrusah?

The Great Song
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5771

Words of Remembrance
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

The Great Mirror in the Sky
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5758

ArtScroll

Turning the Gears
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5757

Sweet' Can Emerge From 'Bitter
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5762

Can A Person Sleep For Seventy Years?
Rabbi Label Lam - 5765

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Back-Seat Driver
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5762

A Stiff-Necked People
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5761

Life is a Stage
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5770

> Building a Spiritual Pipeline
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5759

Putting Pizazz Into Our Mitzvos
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5763

A Time to Sing
Shlomo Katz - 5774

The Importance of Trees
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5759



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information