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This week's parashah contains a description of one of Moshe Rabbeinu's greatest virtues. "Now the man Moshe was exceedingly humble, more than any person on the face of the earth" (Bemidbar 12:3).
Anyone who was privileged to know the "Minister of Torah," Hagaon, Harav Moshe Feinstein ztvk"l, recognized that he personified his namesake. His genuine humility, despite his being the recognized leader of his generation, was a wonder to behold. The amazing thing is that it was not only his students and followers who noticed it. Even total strangers were aware of it.
My dear mother, may she live and be well, once worked for a non-religious fellow. Someone died, and they went together to be menachem avel (comfort and console) him. While they were sitting there, an obviously prominent Rabbi entered the room. Knowing that my mother was religious, her boss asked her in a whisper who the Rabbi was. "He is so humble," he remarked. My mother checked it out and, sure enough, it was Reb Moshe. I don't know what he had done which had displayed his modesty, but it was noticeable at a glance even to a simple person.
Reb Moshe's son was once tutoring a young boy in the Beis Hamidrash of Mesivta Tiferes Yerushalayim where Reb Moshe was Rosh Yeshiva. Suddenly, his father approached him and asked him to rush somewhere to perform an important errand for him. Reb Dovid replied that he would surely take care of it as soon as he finished learning with this young boy. Reb Moshe told him that the errand was extremely important and had to be attended to at once. He told him to go immediately and not worry about his student. Reb Dovid obeyed his father and left without delay. Reb Moshe then sat down with the youngster and began to learn with him!
For many years, Reb Moshe handled the volume of visitors, to his home and in yeshiva, without the help of an assistant. When things began to get out of hand and people came around the clock, allowing the Rabbi no time for himself, Rabbi Rivlin was hired to control the traffic. After about a week, he related his first amazing story; the first of many more to come.
One day, an elderly Russian woman rang the bell and asked to see Rabbi Feinstein. Rabbi Rivlin asked why she wanted to see him. She was a bit disturbed at the question and claimed that she always visits him once or twice a year and never meets with any opposition so why should today be different? Rabbi Rivlin explained to her patiently that a new order has been instituted and it is his job to screen the visitors and only allow important issues to be brought before the Rabbi who was inundated with the many problems of Klal Yisroel and could only do so much in twenty four hours.
Having been left no choice, the lady explained that she came to Rabbi Feinstein to ask him to write a postcard for her to her sister in Russia, since she could not write in that language and could only dictate her thoughts for the Rabbi to pen. Flabbergasted, Rabbi Rivlin almost fell off of his chair. "Lady, are you nuts?" he cried, trying with all his might not to be too impolite. "You want to bother the Gadol Hador (the greatest in the generation) to write a postcard for you?!!"
By now, the woman had lost her patience. Adamantly she shouted at the "watchman of the gate." "Young man, how long have you been around her? For the past twenty years, Rabbi Feinstein has been writing letters to my sister regularly!"
After Reb Moshe's passing, Harav Shalom Shvadron zt"l told a story of a Rabbi from Tel Aviv who suddenly was stricken with unbearable headaches. He went to doctors and professors and had all sorts of tests performed, but no one could find the cause of his discomfort.
Finally, he decided to try to find the answer in the spiritual realm. He visited a Rabbi who knew how to perform the Goral Hagra (a type of lot performed through the usage of a complete Bible; the method having been taught by the Gaon of Vilna ztvk"l). The passage which turned up was at the end of this week's parashah: "Why did you not fear to speak against My servant Moshe?" (Bemidbar 12:8). The message was understood to indicate that the suffering rabbi was being punished because he had spoken against some tzaddik named Moshe. The only one whom he felt fit that description was Reb Moshe Feinstein ztvk"l, but he could not remember ever speaking ill of him.
Finally, he remembered that after the tremendous funeral of the sage, attended by tens of thousands of mourners in Jerusalem on the day that Purim is celebrated in the Holy City, the Rabbi had commented to his students that "Reb Moshe spoiled our Purim festivities." Apparently, this was considered, in Heaven, a slight of the great Rabbi's honor.
The Rabbi wasted no time. He gathered a minyan, went to Reb Moshe's grave, and publicly begged forgiveness of Hashem's servant. Immediately afterwards, the headaches ceased!
May his memory be a blessing to all of Israel.
Shema Yisrael Torah Network