Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter
Whatever you think about Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to the US Congress this week — and the issue has certainly created divisions among the Jewish People — it is beyond dispute that leaders of the past have acted similarly, defying their detractors and even mystifying their supporters.
What chiddush can be said about Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, the gadol of Jerusalem who spent his life fleeing from the honor that pursued him nevertheless? In conversation with Mishpacha, his son-in-law Rav Zalman Nechemiah Goldberg shlita shared one answer: “The world stands on Torah, avodah, and gemilus chasadim. If you want to know if someone is a tzaddik who sustains the world, then see if he has these three traits. If he does, then you know he is.”
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.
A reticent, unassuming figure who floated through the streets of Jerusalem’s Old City for years with myopic focus and one clear goal, to bring back estranged Jews to the fold? A man whose job description was to engage Jewish students and tourists passing through Jerusalem in a conversation that would change the direction of their lives? A rabbi whose tap on the shoulder offered access to Torah, so the uninformed could make intelligent choices about their Jewish future?