Sunday, June 03, 2012

R' Chaim Volozhiner

14 Sivan is the yahrzeit of R' Chaim Volozhiner.  I saw a parsha sheet that had a bunch of stories about R' Chaim in honor of the occasion, and one of them (for me at least) typified the difference between a chassidishe ma'aseh and a non-chassidishe ma'aseh (or a chassidishe outlook vs. non-chassidishe), with no disrespect to either side.  

Snow was apparently not uncommon in Volozhin and in the days before snow plows and salt trucks a good snowfall meant the city would literally close down, as roads and streets were unpassable.  It was noticed that no matter how had the snowfall, the path to the Volozhiner Yeshiva somehow always remained clear.  Bachurim always had a way to get to the yeshiva to learn.  A miracle!

Had this been a chassidishe ma'aseh, I think the punchline would be that there was a special segulah to Volozhin, a special merit earned by R' Chaim Volozhiner, and because of that the snow drifted elsewhere.  Maybe even the aish of Torah succeeded in melting the snow before it got to earth.

But it's not a chassidishe ma'aseh -- it's Volozhin.  One morning after a snowfall some of the bachurim were up out of bed especially early  and when they peered out of their window they spied a lone figure out shoveling the snow away from the yeshiva.  Who was that lone soul braving the storm to see to it that the yeshiva could remain accessible?  It was none other than the Rosh Yeshiva, R' Chaim.


  1. Anonymous2:54 AM

    Oyb nisth, hecher?

  2. Well it's like the old conflict of how the Chazon Ish managed to answer questions relevant to biology in his teshuvos so accurately?
    Believers say it's because he had "Daas Torah" and "Ruach HaKodesh" that gave him the answers.
    The rest of us say he went, found a book of biology and read it.

  3. My mother, who grew up in Kelm, tells me that many would read Kant at times that learning Torah was assur.