Next week Thursday, hundreds of thousands of people will flock to the tzion of the Belzer Ruv, Reb Aharon z”l.
It’s difficult to describe what the Belzer Ruv means for so many Yidden. His great holiness, and the astonishing stories told about him are still inspiring many Yidden today.
The Imrei Emes of Gur said about the Ruv z”l, that even if he would have lived several hundred years earlier he would have been a novelty. In the generation before and after the Holocaust, he was definitely an unbelievable novelty.
The Ruv z”l was stringent and meticulous in every mitzvah and in every minhag yisroel, but he said, “I’m not a “frumer”, everything I do has a source. Learn and you’ll understand.” Indeed, for the Belzer Talmidei Chachamim it is a challenge and a rewarding experience to find the sources for everything that the Ruv z”l was doing.
During World War II, when the Ruv z”l was in the Ghetto of Bochnia, one of the poskim in the Ghetto was overwhelmed with the difficult questions he received and felt it beyond him to answer. He went to the Ruv z”l to ask for help. The Ruv z”l was hesitant to answer because he didn’t get involved with pesak halachah and refrained from demonstrating his Torah knowledge. But the posek was adamant that if the Ruv will not help him, he’ll discontinue answering. The Ruv z”l definitely didn’t want that to happen, so he responded to the questions. The posek was astonished by his breadth of knowledge, and said, “The Ruv z”l brought up remote responsa from the Rashba to clarify the halachah”.
The great Gaon Rav Meir Arik, one of the greatest lamdonim of Galicia said he never saw a parallel to the Ruv’s breadth in Torah knowledge and to the hasmadah of the Imrei Emes, the Gerrer Rebbe.
The Kedushah and Holiness of the Ruv z”l was extraordinary. The Ruv z”l never did anything purposelessly, everything had a deeper meaning. He always sat at the edge of his chair and never did anything for leisure or comfort. His madreigos and kedushah in eating are unfathomable to us.
Although he was so detached from this world, he cherished every Jew, even the ones who were very far from Yiddishkeit, and saw only good in them.
The worst thing for the Ruv z”l was to express negativity about another Jew. If such a thing happened, he ordered the individual to ask mechilah and to repeat three times the opposite of the negativity expressed. The Ruv z”l referred to a mechalel shabbos as a שוכח עיקר שבת (one who forgot about Shabbos). In the presence of the Ruv z”l, when one spoke about secular Jews they had to refer to them as “Yidden who don’t put on Rabbeinu Tam’s Tefillin” (the second pair of tefillin that Chasidim don after davening).
When talking about Eretz Yisroel, one was never allowed to talk negatively in the presence of the Ruv z”l. Once, there was fruit from Eretz Yisroel laying on the table, and one of the gabbaim said that they are small and bitter. Upon hearing those words, the Ruv z”l was taken aback and ordered him to repeat three times “The fruit are beautiful, big, and sweet”.
For part 2 see here.