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 BAMIDBAR AND SHAVUOS:

View Complete List

The Final Countdown
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5760

Everyone Counts
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5770

Fatherly Guidance
Rabbi Label Lam - 5771

> The Customs of Shavuos
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5756

More Than Just Stars and Stripes
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5760

Receivers of Torah Knowledge
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5772

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Ah, It's Nothing... Really.
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5767

The Special Essence of the Jew
Rabbi Yosef Kalatsky - 5763

Unique Contribution
Rabbi Shlomo Jarcaig - 5763

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

The "Two Breads"
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5756

Count Us In!
Shlomo Katz - 5775

The Proof’s in the Off-Putting
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5766

ArtScroll

The Path to Pleasure
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5766

Human Nature
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5772

A Celebration of Preparation
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5767

The Desert and Beyond
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5758



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