Hashem told Moshe to appoint Yehoshua bin Nun to become his successor. The Rambam in Mishne Torah asks why specifically Yehoshua merited to be selected when there were other more qualified candidates, like Elazar and Pinchos, who surpassed him in their intellectual acuity. The Rambam answers that although Yehoshua, Pinchos, and Elazar were all students of Moshe, Yehoshua was his most faithful disciple. He ministered to Moshe, followed him everywhere, and scrutinized his every action. About him, Chazal say that personally attending a Torah scholar is greater than studying itself. This is why Yehoshua merited to inherit the mantle of leadership from Moshe.
One of the most intellectually stimulating works of Talmudic novellae is the renowned Birchas Shmuel, which is a collection of the chidushei Torah delivered by the great Rosh Yeshivah, R’ Boruch Ber Lebowitz zt”l, of Kamenitz. In the world of the Yeshivos, the Birchas Shmuel is a sefer that ranks on the highest level of lomdus (deep analytical comprehension), and to master the words of R’ Boruch Ber is to attain a deep and penetrating understanding of a sugya.
R’ Yaakov Galinsky zt”l recounted the following story of how the chidushei Torah of R’ Boruch Ber came to be written in the form of a sefer. When R’ Boruch Ber had organized his novellae and wished to have them printed, he decided to call one of his closest disciples, R’ Yonah Karpilov zt”l hy”d (author of Yonas Ileim), to put them down properly on paper and have them printed. At the time, R’ Yonah Minsker (as he was commonly known) was a student learning in the Mir Yeshivah. During this period, the lions of the Torah world were studying in the Mir, including R’ Chaim Shmuelevitz zt”l, R’ Aryeh Leib Malin zt”l, R’ Yechiel Michel Feinstein zt”l, R’ Yechiel Michel Schlesinger zt”l and R’ Shlomo Chomsker zt”l hy”d, among others. R’ Yonah had been a student of R’ Boruch Ber in Kamenitz - in fact, he was considered the preeminent student of R’ Boruch Ber, and most probably one of the few disciples who truly understood the deep and incisive chidushim of his rebbi, which flew above the heads of most others.
Now, as R’ Boruch Ber wished to print his words of Torah, he could think of no better individual to handle this monumental task than R’ Yonah. As tremendous as he was in learning, he was also quite a capable writer - a person with the uncanny ability of elucidating concepts clearly and brilliantly, so that anyone who reads his words could comprehend the material in a simple and easy fashion. R’ Boruch Ber recognized the need to make his words clear and definitive, while at the same time not relinquishing one iota of his deep analytical intent. This was no small challenge, and R’ Yonah was needed.
R’ Boruch Ber asked one of his students to pen a letter to the Mir, asking R’ Yonah to come to Kamenitz. The talmid faithfully followed his master’s directive and wrote the letter on a piece of paper in the name of the Rosh Yeshivah.
The very next morning, R’ Boruch Ber could be seen walking about searching for the talmid. He finally found him and quickly asked him if he had written the letter to R’ Yonah. The student said that he had finished the letter the night before and even addressed it, but he had not yet taken it to the post office to have it properly mailed. R’ Boruch Ber sighed in relief and asked the student to give him the letter. He had decided not to send it after all.
The student ran to retrieve the letter but as he handed it to his Rosh Yeshivah, he could not help but inquire as to what had caused him to change his mind. Did he not wish to use R’ Yonah Minsker? Why was he asking for the letter back?
R’ Boruch Ber nodded and his expression remained stoic. “The truth is that there is no one better than R’ Yonah for the task at hand. He would surely do a great job which would benefit the Torah world immensely. However, the thought occurred to me that if I recalled R’ Yonah from the Mir, then the present talmidim who are sitting and learning my shiurim will feel bad. Some of these talmidim are brilliant scholars themselves, but if they see me working exclusively with R’ Yonah, it will cause them pain and anguish, as if they are not worthy of writing their rebbi’s Torah or I don’t trust them. For this reason, I have decided not to ask R’ Yonah to come and I will work with my present talmidim on the sefer.”
At the expense of quality and clarity, R’ Boruch Ber’s midos would not allow him to possibly cause another Jew pain.