Two lessons in sensitivity
צילום: יעקב כהן, פלאש90

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

The greatest people pay attention to the littlest things. Next Shabbat marks the third anniversary of the passing of Rav Ya’akov Edelstein, of blessed memory, the rabbi of Ramat HaSharon. Here are just two stories from our book “Reaching to Heaven” on his ability to notice, with penetrating sensitivity, the smallest details. In a certain sense, this is what Parashat Mishpatim is all about – to take the highest ideals from Mount Sinai, bring them down to earth, and apply them to everyday life.

Rav Yitzchak Zemel:

“During his final days, the Rav was staying in a hospice apartment in Netanya. Each Friday night, a group of local chasidim came by to sing Shabbat songs with much joyful excitement. But in the adjoining apartment a blind woman was living. The Rav turned to me and said that since the woman was blind, perhaps her sense of hearing was especially well developed and she heard the songs loudly, in a manner that was disturbing to her. This needed to be checked. Furthermore, he knew that she was Sephardic and perhaps she did not like Chasidic music. His constant concern for the other person amazed me time and again”.

Kivi Hess, a publicist:

“A young mother passed away and I was asked to prepare an announcement for the purpose of collecting funds for her orphaned children. I wrote something very sad and emotional and asked the Rav to sign off on it but he was not satisfied with what I had written. ‘I understand your desire that people will make a contribution,’ he explained to me, ‘but I am thinking about the orphans. One day they will grow up and read this. It’s just not proper to write that ‘they have no consolation’ or ‘their home has no one to lean on’. Write something less ‘explosive’ –that was the word he used. As far as I know, this was the last item that was brought for his approval, when he was 93 years old. Until the end of his days, he taught us that every person is an entire world, that everything we write is important, that there is no limit to human sensitivity”.

May his memory be for a blessing.

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סיון רהב-מאיר

Sivan Rahav-Meir is a media personality and lecturer. Married to Yedidya, the mother of five. Lives in Jerusalem. She works for Israel TV news, writes a column for Yediot Aharonot newspaper, and hosts a weekly radio show on Galei Zahal (Army Radio). Her lectures on the weekly Torah portion are attended by hundreds and the live broadcast attracts thousands more listeners throughout the world.
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