Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



No Agendas: The Halachic Legacy of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach

Rabbi Avrohom Neuberger

A secular observer once noted that whereas most people follow men of power — whether that power is acquired through military prowess, personal wealth, or charisma — Jews have a different standard. They turn to “pious scholars.” Hence, it is not surprising that we are often led by unassuming men, and that these individuals rise to be the most influential and powerful personages in Torah communities. Perhaps the prime example of this phenomenon was Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ztz”l.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

He was at all times pleasant and humble. Except during those sacrosanct hours that he would lock himself in a secret private room in Shaarei Chesed, he was both physically and emotionally open and accessible. The most cutting-edge questions, involving life and death issues, came to his doorstep, and he answered all with equanimity. Rav Shlomo Zalman was also completely without prejudice. This absence of a preexisting agenda as expressed in his interpersonal relationships was starkly manifest at his levayah, attended by Jews of all colors and stripes — Sepharadic, Ashkenazic, chassiddish, litvish, chareidi, and Mizrachi. They all intuitively sensed the simple, unfettered purity of Rav Shomo Zalman’s personality and ahavas Yisrael, and were all equally devastated by his passing.   Back From the Grave That same lack of prejudice is seen also in Rav Shlomo Zalman’s learning. He wrote and delivered shiurim on a range of subjects, from his daily blatt shiur on Gemara in Yeshivas Kol Torah, to halachah to lomdus. At age 18 he wrote his first sefer, on Shev Shematesa, gaining a glowing haskamah from Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer. His father, however, asked him not to publish it, and he abided by that decision until his family printed the manuscript a just few years before his passing. Its survival — as recounted by renowned tour guide Gershon Kaufman — was somewhat “miraculous.” Before Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg wrote his own sefer on Shev Shematesa, he told Rav Shlomo Zalman of his intentions. Rav Shlomo Zalman offered his notebook on the subject to Rav Scheinberg, but informed him that this was the only copy, and he intended to print it as a sefer sometime in the future. Gershon Kaufman, Rav Scheinberg’s adopted grandson, was the emissary who brought the sefer to Rav Scheinberg’s home. Sometime before Pesach, Gershon asked his grandfather whether he should return the sefer and was told he should, but the sefer was nowhere to be found. After a frantic search it was discovered that the cleaning woman had placed the notebook in a bag with sheimos, which had subsequently been buried. The grave was opened, Gershon himself was lowered inside, and he found the notebook among the sheimos. He cleaned it off immediately and went to return it to its author. Nobody had told Rav Shlomo Zalman of these events, but as soon as Rav Shlomo Zalman saw the notebook he took it and began dancing — with the notebook and with Gershon. Somehow he intuited that there was a story behind the sefer’s return.

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
What’s in a Name?
Shoshana Friedman “What does Writer X have to say this week?”
Atonement — Fake and Real
Yonoson Rosenblum White confessionals and faux rituals
Four Walls Coming Full Circle
Eytan Kobre All the while, there’s been a relationship in the offing...
And Yet We Smile
Yisroel Besser We are the nation that toils to be happy at all costs
Out of This World
Rabbi Henoch Plotnick Dirshu Hashem b’himatzo — we are in Hashem’s company now...
Steven and Jonathan Litton
Rachel Bachrach The co-owners of Litton Sukkah, based in Lawrence, NY
Tali Messing
Moe Mernick Tali Messing, engineering manager at Facebook Tel Aviv
Sick Note
Jacob L. Freedman “Of course, Dr. Freedman. Machul, machul, machul”
Avoiding Health Columns Can Be Good for You
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Only one reliable guide for good health: our Torah
Endnote: Side Notes
Riki Goldstein Most Jewish music industry entertainers have side profes...
Me, Myself, and Why
Faigy Peritzman Where there’s no heart and no love, there’s no point
Can’t Do It Without You
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When you step up to the plate, you build your home team
Eternal Joy
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz The joy of Succos is the fruit of spiritual victory
The Appraiser: Part III
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer Make sure your child knows his strengths
Hidden Special Needs
Rena Shechter You won’t see his special needs, but don’t deny them
Dear Wealthy Friend
Anonymous There’s no need for guilt. I am truly happy for you