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Catriel Lev
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Sep 20, 2010

The Most Moving Anecdote from Rav Chaim Soloveichik's Shavuot, 5770, Shiur

In my opinion, the most moving anecdote, including a powerful message for this time of year when we are attempting to correct our Middot (character traits), in Rav Chaim Soloveichik's Shiur from Shavuot was the story which he told of being at a Simchah (celebration of a joyous occasion) in America with his father, Rav Aharon Soloveichik, Zecher Tzaddik LiVrachah (of blessed, saintly memory).

Rav Chaim told how they were eating delicatessen at the Simchah, when he happened to ask who supervised the Kashrut of the delicatessen. When the host mentioned the name of the person who supervised the Kashrut of the delicatessen, Rav Aharon Soloveichik put down his fork and said that he could not eat this delicatessen, though he assured everyone that it was kosher and technically permissible to eat.

It turned out that Rav Aharon could not bring himself to eat the delicatessen because he knew of a terrible blemish in the Middot (character traits) of the person who supervised its Kashrut, a serious flaw in his fulfillment of Mitzvot Ben Adam LaChavero (Torah commandments relating to the proper treatment of one's fellow man). In a manner very similar to the Talmudic description of a Chasid Shoteh (despicably foolish "righteous person"), this Kashrut supervisor had instructed his congregation that if they are near an immodestly dressed woman who slips on the ice, they should not help her get up!

Rav Aharon Soloveichik was such a great Tzaddik (righteous man) that his moral standards affected him to such a degree that he could not even bring himself to eat meat supervised by a person who could issue such a ruling!


  1. despite that, I wonder who would have continued eating the food after watching Rav Aharon zt"l put down his fork and say "the food is technically kosher"...

  2. rafi,
    Congregants of that Rabbi's shul

  3. Could somebody please explain to me what Joshua is hinting at or insinuating in his response to Rafi G.'s comment!

  4. He's saying that the Rabbi's congregation, who follow his psak may continue to eat. Just because RAS has an issue with the person's middos, and can't bring himself to eat does not mean that others must follow his personal stringency. Similar to a Rav who paskens that one may carry in the neighborhood eruv, while the rabbi himself may prefer to be stringent.

  5. my question was not about chumras. If I saw my rebbe stop eating because he felt something was wrong, and he said so even though it is technically kosher, I personally would feel very uncomfortable picking up my fork and eating. if my rebbe has a problem with it, how can i eat it.

    I was wondering if after Rav Aharon would have made such a statement if anybody would feel comfortable eating the food, even though it is technically kosher, and even though Rav Aharon had said they could continue eating.

  6. One point may not be clear here, though I tried to clarify it by stating, "It turned out that Rav Aharon..." to indicate that the reason was not known immediately.

    The reason for Rav Aharon's not eating the delicatessen was not immediately known at the time of the event, since Rav Aharon did not explain it then. So, it may have been that many people did not notice that Rav Aharon was not eating the delicatessen, since his comment that it was kosher and technically permissible to eat was only made because those near him noticed that he had stopped eating the delicatessen. It seems that there was other food at the Simchah, so Rav Aharon probably continued eating the other items.

    Only some time afterward (Rav Chaim did not make it clear how much time elapsed, but it sounded like at least several days) did the reason become known, apparently from a somewhat unrelated conversation in which Rav Aharon participated.