Three little stories about a giant rabbi

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Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Today marks 21 years since the passing of Rabbi Yosef Kapach, who was born in Yemen, made aliyah in 1943, and was among the leading rabbis of our times. He was a commentator on the Rambam and translated his works, and was a recipient of the Israel Prize. Last night, his granddaughter Einat Kapach told me several stories about him:

  • "Besides his greatness as a Torah scholar, his quiet demeanor and inner peace were something rare. This was not only reflected in his capacity to sit for hours, days, weeks, and years among his books. His inner peace was also found in his always being focused, and never scattered. If I would play with my salad and keep stabbing it with my fork, he would say with a smile: "What did that fork do to you? Why don't you give it some rest?" When I was around him, the entire world seemed to be in a state of perpetual noise where people lacked concentration, being easily distracted and influenced by outside stimulation."
  • "A father and son once came to him. The son suffered from an inability to pronounce the letter resh, substituted the letter lamed in its place, and was always apprehensive that others would make fun of him. The son's Bar Mitzvah was approaching and both father and son were in distress. My grandfather calmed the boy, sat with him at great length, and help him compose a Bar Mitzvah speech without the letter resh."
  • Years ago, in a newspaper interview, they asked my grandfather: If you were to meet Rambam, what would you ask him? Grandpa answered: I would not ask him anything. I would tell him thank you very much."

In his memory.

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