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Three little stories about a great man

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Today is the 70th anniversary of the passing of Rabbi Yaakov Moshe Charlap. Rabbi Charlap was one of Rabbi Kook's elite students. Rabbi Charlap was the rabbi of Jerusalem's Shaarei Chesed neighborhood and head of the Merkaz HaRav yeshiva. Here are three little stories about this most special person:

• Zalman Shazar, the past President of Israel and one of Rabbi Charlap's close friends, described how the rabbi conducted the havdalah ceremony at the close of Shabbat: When he said "Who separates holy from profane, and Who separates light from darkness," he would emphasize "light" in a strong voice, as opposed to "darkness," which was uttered in a weaker voice. And he would continue in this manner: "the Seventh Day" loudly and then "the six work days" softly. He would also make a distinct movement of separation, as if he was actually separating light from darkness. At the departure of the holiness of Shabbat, the pain on his face was visible.

• At an event marking 100 years since the establishment of the Shaarei Chesed neighborhood, Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach spoke about his childhood memories of Rabbi Charlap whose prayers were said slowly and with complete focus: "More than seventy years after those prayers were offered, the way that he said 'Shema Yisrael' still resonates in my ears."

• In the last days before his death, jack hammers pounded away right under his window. When his family suggested that he move away from the source of the noise, Rabbi Charlap protested: "Up until now, I was privileged to go out and see the building of Jerusalem. Now that I am confined to my bed I cannot go out, but when I hear the noise of the jack hammer, I know that Jerusalem continues to be built. Don't deny me the privilege of at least hearing the sounds of Jerusalem being built."

From havdalah, through the reading of the shema, to the sound of the jack hammer, Rabbi Charlap knew how to sanctify every moment.

In his memory.


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