Friday, March 6, 2009

Rav Chaim Kanievsky and the Grasshoppers

The megillah is filled with hidden miracles - and with so many hidden lessons. One of those lessons can be seen in the following story related by a rabbi from Brooklyn, who heard it directly from Rebbetzin Kanievsky, when he was in Bnei Brak about a month ago.

Approximately eight years ago, Harav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a, was learning Maseches Chullin and a sugyah relating to chagovim, grasshoppers. Rav Chaim realized that he needed to see a grasshopper to better understand the Gemara - apparently he had never seen a live grasshopper before - and asked his daughter to bring him one. She tried, but reported to her father that she failed to find one. He went back to the sugyah, and lo and behold, a grasshopper came hopping through the window, landing on his Gemara. After examining it, he let it go.

As he continued through the sugyah, he realized that he needed to study the hind legs a bit more, but the grasshopper was long gone. Before closing his Gemara, a second grasshopper hopped in and on to his Gemara, giving him the ability to study its hind leg in detail.

That part of the story is rather famous. But the story continues.

Two months ago, a rov giving a shiur in Bnei Brak criticized the tales people tell about gedolim, explaining that the stories cannot all be true, and sound silly. As a case in point, he brought the maaseh of Rav Chaim and the grasshoppers, viewing it as ridiculous and leading people to the wrong conclusions regarding Rav Chaim, who, after all, learns Torah like everyone else. After the shiur, the maggid shiur went home and found his house infested with grasshoppers (in the same Bnei Brak that Rav Kanievsky’s daughter - seeking to fulfill the mitzvah of kibbud av - could not find one). He tried for three days to rid his home of the insects, but could not. Someone suggested that he go to Rav Chaim and ask for mechilah (forgiveness).

The rov approached Rav Chaim and told him what had happened. Rav Chaim laughed, saying that he did not need his mechilah at all, as the grasshoppers could have come to anybody (after all, the window was open!), and he was certainly mochel him if he needed it. The maggid went home - and the grasshoppers were gone!

As we review and study the megillah, we must remember who Mordechai and Esther really were - not players in a story, but gedolei Yisroel whose very thoughts, words and actions were entirely imbued and thoroughly saturated with mesirus nefesh for kavod Shomayim and Klal Yisroel. Their lives were not their own, they lived for a higher purpose.

Look at the last seven words of the megillah (Esther 10:3): “Doresh tov leamo vedover shalom lechol zaroh. ” They are there not only for the sake of a nice ending; they leave us with a final, parting message after all is said and done. This is a lesson for all of us at all times. Our gedolim are just not “ordinary” people. We must view them with the tremendous awe and respect they deserve; we must seek their advice and counsel and we must follow what they say. Imagine what would have happened to our people without only two people - Mordechai and Esther - and look at what happened as a result of them.

Let us look at our gedolim as the Mordechais and Esthers of our generation, following their directives and teachings with reverence and joy, and may we, too, be zoche to nissim as they were in those times.

Hakhel Bulletin/Elisha Newscenter