The Battle over the Women’s Section and Rav Shach

The Battle over the Women’s Section and Rav Shach

Mishpacha Magazine dedicated this week’s issue to the ten-year anniversary of the passing of Rosh Yeshiva Harav Shach zt”l. Here’s a few wonderful stories about Rav Shach that appeared in the magazine:

Seats in the Ponovezher Yeshiva are at a premium come the High Holidays, and one year, there was simply no more room in the beis medrash for all the students and alumni. Yeshiva administration wanted to solve the problem by splitting the women’s section down the middle and adding spaces in the balcony for the men.
The women, suggested the administrator, didn’t really participate in most of the davening, so the space would get maximum use from men.
Rav Shach rejected the idea.
“This is a yeshiva. Which type of woman comes to daven in a yeshiva? It’s not the ones with little children, since they can’t leave their homes. It’s the older women, and the single girls—and the ones who must recite Yizkor.
“In short, it’s those broken in spirit—whose prayers are most precious in Heaven…
“Perhaps all of our prayers, of hundreds of men, only ascend to Heaven in their merit?
“Please leave their space intact!”
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Rabbi Yaakov Feitman also posted some great stories about HaRav Shach in Mishpacha this week. He wrote:
“My Rebbetzin and I were ushered into an unadorned room from which eternal wisdom was issued to Klal Yisrael. Rav Shach answered all our questions and when we were about to leave, the Rosh Yeshiva [who was in his nineties] climbed a few steps up an ancient ladder, unlocked his stash of candies and offered a few to my wife for our children. A quick glance at my rebbetzin’s fleeting disappointment was enough for the tzaddik. “Not enough?” he inquired congenially, and back up the ladder the gadol hador ascended, with a knowing smile.
This attention to the minute details of something seemingly insignificant had just been coupled with a brilliant analysis and solution to a problem [I had presented the rav] which had eluded rabbis and other roshei yeshiva of note…
Then he doled out candies as needed to children he would never see but loved because they were Yiddishe kinderlach, precious Jewish children.
That was Rav Shach.
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Another story from Rabbi Feitman:
The Rosh Yeshiva’s Rebbetzin a”h had been suffering terribly during her final days, and the Rosh Yeshiva was completely involved in doing whatever he could to alleviate her pain. During this period, a young kollel man arrived to inquire whether he should accept a position he had been offered in France. The Rosh Yeshiva told him that he would look into the matter and let him know. When the Rebbetzin passed away after several agonizing days, the Rosh Yeshiva was inconsolable. The young man joined the throngs who came to comfort the mourning Rosh Yeshiva and was shocked to hear his name called.
“I checked it out for you,” the Rosh Yeshiva informed the surprised young yeshiva student. “They need people just like you. Go and be successful!”
“But when did the Rosh Yeshiva have time to do this research?” the kollel fellow asked incredulously.
“I saw one of the Roshei Yeshiva at the funeral,” the Rosh Yeshiva responded matter-of-factly, “and I was reassured that the position is for you.”

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One comment

  1. Rivky Strellson

    These stories were nice but I don’t understand what is unique about a great rov giving candies for children – in many shuls the rabbonim give candies to kids? Is the big event supposed to be that he ‘sent’ candies…?!
    The story about the womens section for davening was very nice though, and shows a softer side to Rav Shach zt’l than is usually seen.

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