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Where Did You Acquire this Exceptional Love of the Torah?

Published on Tuesday March 24th, 2020

Rav Yosef Shalom Cahanman disembarked one fine day in the city of Cincinnati in the USA and was hosted by a prominent Jewish businessman in the Jewish community. His host had made many sacrifices to establish a Talmud Torah in the city.

It is pertinent to mention that the city of Cincinnati is known as a bastion of opposition against authentic Judaism. The first "Theological Seminary" led by the reform movement was established in this city, which was considered a stronghold of heresy. Much courage and determination were needed to establish an authentic Talmud Torah.

When Rav Cahanman visited the Talmud Torah, he overhead the businessman in person giving a lesson to young children and teaching them the traditional melodies of Lithuania.

Overcome with emotion, the Rav burst into tears and said to his host: "I envy your love of the Torah, you have immense merit! And the businessman replied to the Rav: "This love of the Torah was not acquired easily." And he recounted the story of his childhood.

"I grew up in a small town in Lithuania in a family of seven children. My father worked very hard to make a living. He was gone all weekdays, going from village to village to sell his goods. He only came home for Shabbat. Earning parnassa was very difficult, and we never had hot meals during the week.

"One day a new Rebbe, a Torah teacher, came to our village. His salary amounted to one ruble a month per student, "continued the man. "With four boys at home, the cost of four rubles per month was obviously prohibitive.

"But my parents were adamant that we get a Torah education. So, they gradually began to sell their finery. First, they sold the silverware that was gifted to my mom on her wedding. Then, they sold her jewels. Then, they parted from other objects. They struggled all month long to collect the Rebbe’s fees. And they never gave up on giving us a Torah education.

"On a particularly harsh winter, Dad hardly sold any merchandise. We had nothing left to sell. Then Mom said to Dad: "We owe the Rebbe two months salary. And Dad answered serenely, "After Shabbat, we will go to the nearest town to sell the cow!" "

"The cow was an important part of our daily lives. We used its milk and my mother prepared cheese and butter to ensure the family’s basic nutrition.  It was the only source of regular nourishment we had. In spite of this, Dad fulfilled his plan. On Sunday, Mom and Dad got up early in the morning and walked ten kilometers with the cow to the neighboring town. Towards evening, they returned with the eight rubles, their faces beaming with indescribable joy, as we had never witnessed before. They packed the money in a napkin and sent it to the Rebbe. That's how I inherited the love of the Torah!” concluded the businessman.

Being initiated to the study of Torah with exceptional love, at all costs and against all odds led to the establishment of this exceptional Talmud Torah in Cincinnati. After a few years, our protagonist became a pillar of Jerusalem’s Kollel, Ohel Torah.

The Torah-Box Team - © Torah-Box

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