The following hesped for Shmuel Yoel Greenhaus
zt'l, a yeshiva student recently killed in a
car accident near Kiryat Sefer, was given at the
end of the shiva. This presentation is based
on the notes of one of the listeners. It is an
inspiring his'orerus for Elul and the new
In the first part, HaRav Piltz explained that in
contemplating even the short life of such a ben
aliya we have to realize that what he was doing,
the life he lived in the four amos of halacha
toiling in Torah and elevating himself -- that is
the purpose of the world today. That life is what
Hashem wants. Someone who lives like that should
not say, "What will I do in the end?" but should
realize that his life is the ultimate desire of
Part II: Toras Chessed -- Chessed of Torah
There is another point interwoven with this. The
pillar of chessed is an additional pillar
that we have, and it too receives its spiritual
power from the pillar of Torah.
Chessed itself has several levels. One person
does a chessed with some material detail for
another person who needs that detail. Surely this
attribute of chessed is valueless and
limitless. A person attracts immense rachamim
when he does a chessed for another person.
There is, however, a much deeper chessed.
When a person does a chessed for another
person's spiritual possessions, when a person helps
another in Torah, when he helps him elevate
himself, that is the utmost chessed. This is
a Toras Chessed -- a chessed of Torah.
Perhaps this is something that might be forgotten
when we hear about other chassodim. We
certainly must do chessed with those who are,
Rachmono litzlan, sick. Surely we must do
chessed with the poor, and the reward for
doing so is immeasurable. But another chessed
exists which is a spiritual chessed. Everyone
sees many bnei aliya around him, many who
could bolster the Torah and become gedolei
Torah, who fall on the way to their goals.
We have lost many gedolim because a boy or
yungerman slipped. Although it might have
been for a moment, for a split second, still it may
determine the way a person acts in life. When a
person is at such a stage, when he feels
downtrodden, he makes decisions and does things
that determine his fate for generations to come.
We all know that with one good word, one word of
encouragement, one kushya said to another boy
who is not yet a ben aliya, we can change
him. The ben aliya realizes how the other
person feels, since he remembers that when he was
at such a lowly stage he was suddenly elevated with
the help of a good word or encouragement from
someone, or from a good kushya for which he
said a teirutz. That built him and helped him
again to realize his obligation in the world.
This is the second virtue that we must see in such
a boy, such a ben aliya, who as we have heard
and seen was not only concerned about his own Torah
but for all those around him.
"So teach us to number our days, that we may get a
heart of wisdom" (Tehillim 90:12). What is
the connection of the heart to wisdom? The heart
relates to feelings, the heart has desires, but
what does the heart have to do with wisdom?
The answer is well known. We say in our
tefillos: "Instill in our hearts [the
capacity] to understand and elucidate" (Bircas
Krias Shema). The Torah's wisdom is not detached
from man. It is not like other wisdoms. A person
can be an expert in science or medicine or another
area, but that has no connection to actual wisdom.
He can be an expert and can remain a corrupt person
with every possible bad middah.
The posuk teaches us that for Torah we need
the heart, that Hashem should "instill in our
hearts [the capacity] to understand." If
middos are more refined, with more cultivated
yiras Shomayim, true wisdom increases.
Something else can be learned from the posuk.
The posuk writes "levav" for heart,
which actually indicates the plural and suggests
two hearts. A person needs one heart to feel his
aspiration to Torah, his aspirations to spiritual
achievements, to feel "the nearness to Elokim
which is my good" (Tehillim 73:28), that
"my soul thirsts for you" (ibid., 63:2).
We need another heart to be zoche to wisdom:
a heart that feels, that senses how one is not
alone in the world, that perceives how other
children of Avrohom, Yitzchok, and Yaakov exist who
were also created with that same goal. They too
were created for the goal of clinging to the
Creator and taking pleasure in Hashem, "which is
the greatest pleasure and the truest enjoyment of
anything that can be" (Mesillas Yeshorim).
The second heart must think about other people.
We are thrilled, and rightly, over the success of
those trying to help people become baalei
teshuva and those who help the sick. We must,
however, tell the truth. We need to have a helping
heart, a sensitive heart, for our brothers
within the beis midrash, for those
sitting with us on the same bench, for the person
davening with us. He too wants to come closer
Who knows? Perhaps my success is causing him to
despair, causing him damage -- and with one word
from me, with one kushya that I ask him, with
one beaming look, I can completely change him.
It is difficult for me to cite stories at length
[under present circumstances]. One famous story
tells about a talmid chochom, an eminent
rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Ponevezh. This story
is told in various versions and it probably has
some truth in it. I heard the story this way: One
day this rosh yeshiva received an invitation
for a wedding in Switzerland, together with a free
plane ticket since the bride's father had once
studied in the yeshiva. Since he was not well-
acquainted with the person who sent him the
invitation and plane ticket, the amazed rosh
yeshiva phoned to ask why the man had invited
The father told him the following: "I studied in
the yeshiva for a period of half a year and felt
lonely. No one spoke to me, and I decided to return
home to Switzerland. You know, of course, that
Switzerland is not exactly Ponevezh. The same day I
was supposed to return home you passed by me and
fixed my jacket collar. I was so full of
simcha at what you did, realizing that
someone thought about me, that I decided to cancel
my trip and continue in the yeshiva. Because of
this I remained a ben Torah. I owe you my
life! How can I not invite you to my daughter's
With [less than] one word, merely by fixing a
collar, one can build worlds, and generations and
generations of talmidei chachomim. This is
the second kol korei, the appeal of the blood
of our brother Shmuel Yoel, z'l, that is
screaming to us from the earth!
What is his blood screaming? "I was not
zoche. I became a korbon to let people
know of this truth, and my body and soul will be a
parchment to write this appeal to people's hearts."
The appeal is not to the niftar z'l but to
us. The blood of Shmuel Yoel, z'l, is
screaming to us from the earth that his should not
be a korbon in vain, that there should be a
benefit from his sacrifice.
Let us think about his behavior. Who would have
thought that there is a boy who arranges
chaburos, who smiles at each boy, upon whom a
whole yeshiva is dependent? Who knew that such a
Usually if a person is talented and is already a
ben aliya he worries about himself. If he
decides to concern himself with others he will
leave the yeshiva and try to inspire others to
become baalei teshuva.
The plea that this korbon extends to us is
that it is forbidden to stop studying. Within the
beis midrash, within the pillars of Torah,
you will find the pillar of chessed.
Only "between the pillars" of Torah will you find
the pillar of tefillah, and only there will
you find the pillar of chessed. This is the
chessed of Torah, the chessed that
supports generations. With one word, with one
smile, with one kushya, one can build worlds
and save a neshomo.
This is the way we must read the kol korei.
We need a baal korei to read and proclaim the
sefer Torah before us. "HaKodosh Boruch
Hu has in His world only the four amos of
From these four amos we have botei
knesses, from them we have gomlei
chassodim. From here warmth emanates, warmth for
tefillah, for chessed. Everything stems
from the gates that excel in halocho. We must
review this principle, and then we can say, "Shmuel
Yoel, z'l, your korbon was not in
We now add our tefillah and request to Hashem
that He may have pity on the she'eiris
hapeleitah, and may He gather together all Jews,
and may we be zoche speedily to the building
of the Beis Hamikdash, that the three pillars
of which the world depends may be repaired, and
then "He will submerge death for ever; and Hashem
Elokim will wipe away tears from off all faces"
HaRav Aviezer Piltz, shlita, is the rosh yeshiva
of Yeshivas Tushiyah in Tifrach near Beer Sheva.