Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Good Role Models

I've been thinking more about my recent post about "repentance experts" and I thought I would try to come up with more examples of righteous people to emulate.

Every few years I read the book "A Tzaddik in Our Time" by Simcah Raz, about Reb Aryeh Levin. I usually do this during Elul, the Jewish month leading up to Rosh Hashana.

The book is highly recommended, especially for those of us living in Israel. Not only does it have many inspiring stories about this truly righteous person, but it has examples of how someone who sincerely loves his fellow Jew can bridge the boundaries between the Orthodox and non-Orthodox. Reb Aryeh was the rabbi of the prisons where the British kept those in the Palmach and Lehi that they had caught. He took care of them and sneaked in notes from members of their families.

I still remember one small anecdote from the book, which still sticks in my mind. In our materialistic society it is almost incomprehensible - but it shows the greatness of the man. Reb Aryeh lived in extremely modest circumstances. At one time a student wanted to help him by doing some "home improvements". The student wanted to put a soap holder in the shower so that Reb Aryeh wouldn't have to pick up the soap from the shower floor. Reb Aryeh refused, fearing that this "luxury" would spoil him.

I am not saying that living in poverty is the ideal - for most of us, living like that would make it much harder for us to work on our midot (character). But Reb Aryeh shows in this story that his ultimate worry was his personal character - and he shows unbelievable sensitivity to how even the little things can possibly push us off the right track.

Mind boggling really. We sorely need more examples like Reb Aryeh.


Blogger Rafi G. said...

you should read the new book called Holy Mother by Sara Rigler published by Shaar press. It is about Chaya Sara Kramer and her husband.. and is very well written and portrays similar ideals.I am in the middle of it right now and am very impressed by the book.

I recently heard a shiur on Pirkei Avot in which the Rav explained something by saying a person has to be careful what luxuries he decides to introduce into his home because any luxury he brings in will become a necessity (not a luxury) later for his kids...

12:18 PM, September 19, 2006  
Blogger bec said...

i think the more material things we possess the harder it is for us to appreciate our necessities. to be able to live modestly is amazing, and is especially so in our world today, where we have so much and still want more.
that sounds like a great book for the month of elul.

6:03 AM, September 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this dear, dear post. I appreciate the soap dish detail very much. (This will probably sound weird out of context, but for more than a year I went without a bed, sleeping (with bedding) on a floor.

Anyway, there is no balm - none - for a heart at war with itself, or with others.

10:01 AM, September 20, 2006  
Blogger westbankmama said...

Rafi - thanks for the recommendation. Real people always inspire me more than just ideas.

bec - yes, Pirkei Avot had it right - who is rich? he who is happy with his lot...

jeremayakovka - your welcome. Do you want to share with us why you slept on the floor?

11:29 AM, September 20, 2006  
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