"Zalman," R' Yaakov Leib Levy turned to his son, "when are
you going to Italy?"
"We are not yet ready. R' Moshe Yoel Solomon is still
extremely busy, but as soon as he is able to settle some of
his affairs, we plan to be heading there. The pending
inheritance will have to wait a while longer."
"I have a request to make of you. I want you to go to
Germany, too. You must ask the people there to help us
improve the health conditions in Yerusholayim," sighed R'
Leib Levy, the dayan, as he recalled the death of R'
Nochum Shadiker. While tending to the many stricken from
plague, his brother, the great tzaddik, had succumbed
himself to cholera. So many had died! Something had to be
R' Zalman agreed to his father's request, but found it
necessary to explain. "It won't be so simple. We do not know
how long it will take us to complete the procedures of the
inheritance. I fear that the harsh European winter will make
travel to Germany almost impossible. The roads will be
covered with snow. I really don't know if we can undertake
this mission." He reflected a moment. "It really depends on
how long it will take to clear up the matter of the
property. Hopefully, things will work out, however."
In the year 1873, R' Yoel Moshe Solomon and R' Zalman Levy
sailed to Livorno, Italy, and with the help of Hashem,
successfully completed their mission and headed for Germany
before the winter snows settled in. In Wurtzburg, they met
Rabbi Shlomo Halevi Bamberger, the head dayan of the
city, and asked him to help the Ashkenazi community improve
the health conditions of the Holy City.
"We have shortages of everything," they explained. "Doctors,
medicines, medical facilities. What we don't lack is sick
people," R' Zalman added wryly. "The contaminated water
supplies and very crowded living conditions contribute to
spread disease. And when plague strikes, the death toll is
high, leaving many orphans and widows." R' Zalman sighed.
"We live under a terrible feeling of foreboding. There is
the missionary hospital, but, of course, no one is willing
to accept its services. People are afraid of dying there,
amid all the crosses..."
The esteemed Dayan Bamberger listened to the sad description
and advised, "Go to Frankfort and enlist the help of Rabbi
Shamshon Rafael Hirsch. He knows many academicians, many
scientists. He will be able to advise you as to the proper
way to achieve your goal."
The two messengers reached Frankfort and met the noted
rabbi, R' Shamshon Refael Hirsch. They described the
terrible sanitary conditions. "There are two small Jewish
hospitals in Yerusholayim, the Bikur Cholim hospital and the
Rothschild Hospital (later renamed Hadassah Hospital). They
have only a few beds and lack a proper staff of medical men
and supplies. These do not meet the pressing needs of a
growing population. Something must be done!" insisted R'
Yoel Moshe Solomon.
"What you have in mind will require large sums of money. The
person to approach is Baron Shimon Wolf Rothschild, a
righteous Jew. He is very devoted to the Jews of
Yerusholayim and his heart is full of kindness."
The baron suggested they establish a committee to deal with
these matters. "It should include noted public figures,
askonim, among them Jews of German extract who are
already involved in helping the settlement in the Holy
The committee was duly established and it included the
Baron, Rabbi S. R. Hirsch, the Lehrn family of Holland, R'
Asher Stern of Hamburg and Rabbi Meir (Marcus) Lehman, the
The trip was successful. The committee established was
active in improving the health conditions of Yerusholayim.
At first, they tried to expand the existing establishments
but the members soon realized that this was not feasible.
In 1890, the committee succeeded in enlisting Dr. Moshe
Wallach, a young, idealistic doctor, aged 26, to go to
Yerusholayim and do whatever he felt needed doing. He began
by establishing a clinic in the Armenian section of the Old
City. By this time, the population had begun moving to the
newer neighborhoods outside the city walls. "I must raise
money for a new building. The German Jews will surely help
me," he said. Dr. Wallach traveled to Germany and upon his
return, was able to acquire a plot of land outside the walls
which he registered in his name through the German embassy.
[This landmark today sadly houses the Television
Dr. Wallach's meticulous adherence to halacha won him
the respect and trust of the Jerusalem community. This was
coupled with medical skill and connections with the
committee, the triple formula for success in his
Zissel, a typical mother of a large family, met a neighbor
one day and stopped to chat. She remarked, "You know, last
week my Leah'le was very ill. She had a high fever that
terrified me but I didn't have the money to call a doctor. I
tried all of the remedies I had learned from my mother but
nothing helped. I have to tell you what happened.
"Desperate, I ran to the shul next door to pray. Luckily, it
was empty so I went over to the oron kodesh, opened
the door and kissed the scrolls. I cried bitterly to Hashem
to save my daughter and called upon my deceased parents to
intercede for her. I promised to donate some olive oil to
light the lamps in honor of Shabbos.
"Who should come in just then but the shammos, who
overheard my cries. He said, `Why don't you take your
daughter to Dr. Wallach's new hospital? He'll treat her
capably and won't charge you a grush.'
"I did just that and with Hashem's help, Leah recovered very
quickly." Zissel sighed with relief at the mere memory. "Not
only did the good doctor treat her free of charge, he even
gave her the medicines and provided her with nourishing
food. May Hashem bless him and pay him for his kindness!"
Dina nodded knowingly. "He's a good man, Dr. Wallach. I hear
that he has acquired a lot near Meah Shearim."
"It's for housing. To ease the congestion and improve our
living conditions. A real tzaddik, that man is!"
The property which he purchased eventually boasted twenty
housing units and was called Chatzer Shtraus, after its
donor; it was a famous complex that accommodated such world-
famous figures as R' Itzele Blazer and R' Naftoli Amsterdam
zt'l, among others.
One day, Dr. Wallach turned to his secretary, R' Porush, and
said, "I notice that the patients who have been coming
lately to the clinic are very undernourished. Is there any
particular reason for this?"
R' Porush replied, "Yes. The price of food has shot up
because of the drought and the Arabs are determined to keep
it high. They have a monopoly over the supplies."
Dr. Wallach despatched an urgent message to the committee in
Germany and before long, a shipload of food arrived at Jaffa
port. Its contents were distributed free of charge to both
Jews and Arabs. He then undertook to plant the field behind
Shaarei Zedek hospital with wheat for Pesach matzos. At the
same time, he purchased several cows to supply milk to the
When the cows were being delivered to the hospital, one of
them gave birth to a calf. The Arab seller swore that this
was a first born, which made it a sofek petter rechem
(Arabs tended to exaggerate or fabricate), rendering it
holy. The calf grew wild and caused much damage, but could
not be restrained. Eventually it died, to everyone's
Dr. Wallach's exceptional success was attributed to his
excessive yiras shomayim and great respect for the
Jerusalem sages, whom he consulted for every little thing
and whose rulings he followed to the letter.
It was his righteousness that established the Gates of
Righteousness (Shaarei Zedek).