It was some thirteen years ago that the tzaddik HaRav
Dov Sokolovsky zt'l was niftar in Yerushalayim.
He was the favorite son-in-law of the revered rov of Mir in
Lithuania, HaRav Avrohom Tzvi Kamai Hy'd, who died
al kiddush Hashem. The unassuming R' Dov lived a rich
life of ninety years imbued with Torah and chesed.
He was a closemouthed man. Only rarely did a crack open in
his solid wall of silence, but when that happened, concealed
treasures burst forth: Torah glowed from him, the living
Torah that R' Dov had painstakingly accumulated during his
ninety years of being in the shadow of Torah leaders and
living through some of the most dreadful times in our
The following amazing anecdote is the booty of those who were
present at one of those atypical moments when R' Dov revealed
In Mir lived a well-to-do Jew who owned various local
businesses, made a prosperous livelihood and in general
succeeded in all he applied himself to. There was apparently
no reason to warrant any change at all in the way he lived.
Nonetheless, a stubborn rumor spread that this affluent
person was selling all his businesses and possessions. Why?
What could possibly be the reason?
People soon heard the reason for this decision: the fervent
Jew had decided to uproot himself from Europe and to make
aliyah to Eretz Yisroel, the Holy Land, to live on its
sacred earth and fulfill in his own person the mitzvah of
settling Eretz Yisroel.
These tidings had strong repercussions. People highly praised
and sympathized with his noble undertaking. When the day of
his departure arrived all the Jews living in Mir gathered to
bid him farewell. They were full of longing for Eretz Yisroel
and a hidden jealousy about his being zocheh to what
others were not. He responded to their warm blessings: "Next
year in the rebuilt Yerushalayim for all of us!" and then
embarked on his voyage.
Several weeks, or perhaps months, passed. What had happened
would have been forgotten if not for the fact that the Jew,
surprisingly, reappeared in Mir. He had, in fact, returned to
Mir. What happened?
Again the Jews living in Mir gathered to its shul, but
this time to hear about their neighbor's experiences in the
Holy Land. This would be a worthwhile firsthand account. Here
was someone from their own Mir who himself had lived in Eretz
Yisroel -- no rumors or stories, a real live witness. He had
been zocheh to walk on its earth, to touch the stones
of the Kosel Hama'arovi, and to breath the soul-
lifting air of Yerushalayim.
The man ascended the shul's platform and began to
describe the magnificent land and those who live there, its
sacred places, the sanctified environment and enchanting
luster. He portrayed with great emotion all the spiritual
blessings found in Eretz Yisroel.
Then, at the peak of his description, his face darkened and
he began sorrowfully to depict the trying economic situation
in Eretz Yisroel. "But . . . But," the man said, "living
there is intolerable. Children go hungry, life is harsh, and
there is no hope in sight."
He continued relating the pathetic poverty the Jews suffer
from, as indeed they did. He did not calm down until he
muttered a derogatory slogan: "It is preferable to be a sheep
in Mir than to be a man in Eretz Yisroel!"
Here R' Dov arrived at the dramatic climax of his story.
Just as he finished saying that, in front the very eyes of
the audience, a shocking thing happened: it seems that at
that exact moment the man suffered a stroke. His face
twisted, his body sagged, and he began drooping slowly to the
ground. However, he did not fall all the way. He did not
faint either, nor did he lose consciousness. His muscles
shrank and his upright stature stooped.
In a few moments the man was left crouching on his hands and
knees, walking on all four, very much like the way a sheep
He was also unable to speak. Only strange sounds came out of
his mouth, sounds that were amazingly similar to the "meh
meh" that sheep always make.
R' Dov zt'l was afraid that those listening to him
would not believe his story, so he emphasized that he
remembered how, as a child, when he went with other children
to the cheder, they would pass by that man's house. On
the balcony the man would lie, bent over on his knees and
hands, with strange noises issuing from his mouth. The
children -- like all children -- would wave at him accusingly
and yell at him: "Nu! You are the one who dared to speak
loshon hora about Eretz Yisroel?"