It was customary for people to travel to Radin to consult with the Chofetz Chaim, Rav Yisroel Meir Kagan zt”l, on any and all matters pertaining to Jewish life and halachah. In his later years, the Chofetz Chaim was quite old, and most people could not get more than a few minutes to spend with the tzadik, although they will tell you that those few minutes were worth more than the greatest treasure in their lives. Reb Leib, the son of the Chofetz Chaim, relates one notable exception. A talmid chacham came to Radin and asked to spend the holiday with his family; the Chofetz Chaim agreed to allow the man to stay.

Shimon was an 11-year-old boy learning in a Polish cheder, when Rav Meir Shapiro zt”l, the Lubliner Rav, came to test the boys and speak to them in learning. The children exceeded his expectations and the Rav told the children that, as a prize for doing so well, he was going to share with them a secret for life. He quoted the following words from the Ba’eir Heiteiv in the name of the Chinuch: “Whoever is careful to recite Birkas HaMazon with kavanah, word for word (from a bentcher), is assured he will never worry about where his next meal will come from, for his needs will be taken care of with respect and generosity all the days of his life.” The words entered Shimon’s heart and he decided, right then and there, to accept upon himself to always bentch with kavanah (concentration). It wasn’t easy. After lunch, while other children ran out to play, he stayed longer, taking his time, saying each word carefully, losing most of recess, but never relenting on his kabalah.

The Torah instructs us: “Be wholehearted with Hashem, your G-d.” Rashi quotes the words of the Sifrei as follows: “Conduct yourself with Hashem with simplicity and depend on Him... Accept whatever happens to you with (pure) simplicity, and then you will be with Him.” If one accepts whatever comes his way, Hashem will be with him, as well.

Wednesday, 28 Iyar, June 8, 1967, was the third day of the Six-Day War, and it was the first time that residents of Jerusalem felt that the Yad Hashem was guiding the Jewish Nation to victory. Many people ventured outside and saw jeeps filled with smiling soldiers traveling toward Har HaTzofim (Mt. Scopus). The peak of joy came at dusk when the news came that the Kosel HaMaaravi, the Western Wall, had been liberated. People poured out of their shelters. The streets teemed with celebrating and emotion-laden people. The first ones to merit reaching the Kosel brought back small stones, which were passed from hand to hand. Their joy was indescribable – what a miracle Hashem had wrought for His beloved people.

For many years until his death in 1969, the Ponevezher Rav, Rav Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman zt”l used to visit Miami Beach, Florida, annually in order to raise funds for his yeshivah. He would come in late November and often remain in the warm sunshine of South Florida until February or March. Rabbi Berel Wein shlita, who was a congregational rabbi in Miami during that period, developed a close personal relationship with the Ponevezher Rav, and on numerous occasions, he would drive him around to the homes of wealthy members of his congregation to collect money. The Ponevezher Rav had a magnetic personality, and his love for every single Jew was clear and apparent at all times. As a result, these wealthy individuals enjoyed the time spent in their homes with the Rav and looked forward to his visits – often two or three times in the course of a few months – while the Rav was in town.

Klal Yisrael sang a special shirah upon learning of the hidden miracle Hashem performed for them, as they passed through the mountains of Arnon. The Emoriyim lay in ambush, hoping to destroy the nation as they crossed the canyon; but instead, Hashem caused the mountains on both sides to come together, crushing the would-be attackers and saving the Jewish people.

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