Rarely in recent Jewish history has there been a Torah personality who captured the hearts of so many of the people as did the legendary Reb Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt'l. In an unprecedented outpouring of love and veneration, more than 300,000 mourners joined the funeral procession in Yerushalayim to bid a last farewell to the saintly tzaddik who had touched their lives. Who was this beloved sage? How did he stir such adoration? Universally acclaimed as one of the leading poskim of our generation, he served as Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivah Kol Torah in Yerushalayim for half a century. A man whose breadth and depth of knowledge seemed limitless, his countless halachic decisions provide clear guidance in our present-day world of technological advances. But Reb Shlomo Zalman, as he was affectionately called, was much more than a towering halachic authority. He exemplified the purity and saintliness of the great men of an earlier age. With profound wisdom, he dispensed counsel, consolation and material aid to whoever called on him for help. With self-effacing humility, he was accessible to everyone. Young and old, scholars and estranged Jews alike were heartened by his warm smile and his compassionate concern. But, above all, his heart went out to widows and orphans, whose anguish he shared and whose plight he sought to alleviate. Innumerable anecdotes, enough to fill many volumes, testify to the sublime tzidkus and righteousness of this great gaon. No study, analysis or chronicle can do justice to the greatness of this gadol hador. Yet a snapshot of one mountain peak conjures up the image of an entire mountain range. By offering a selection of poignant stories that highlight the many facets of Reb Shlomo Zalman's remarkable personality, this book attempts to capture the essence of his life. The chapters touch on his family background, his marriage, his vast knowledge and methodology in teaching, his humility, his tefillah, his kindness, and his integrity, to name just a few. In these stories, the gaon springs to life. One sees oneself in his presence, sensing the kedushah he radiates, warmed by his gentle smile and feeling the ahavas Torah and ahavas Yisrael that emanate from him. To read these stories is a truly soul-stirring experience. Uplifting and unforgettable.
by Rabbi Yechiel Michel Stern
Translated by Rabbi Avrohom Yaakov Finkel