Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Wonderful Lesson from a Gadol

I paid a shiva call on Friday for Rabbi Yehoshua Zev Abramoff of Toronto. While I never knew Rabbi Abramoff personally, my mother asked me to pay a shiva call as Rabbi Abramoff was a chavruta (study partner) of my father’s about forty years ago in Washington Heights. It just so happened that when I arrived, Rav Aharon Lichtenstein and his wife were sitting in the room also paying a shiva call. It seems that Rabbi Abramoff learned in YU’s Kollel when Rav Aharon was the Rosh Kollel.

Understandably, the conversation turned to Rav Aharon’s influence on the deceased, and the family started to tell Rav Aharon about a lesson that always stayed with Rabbi Abramoff that he had learned from Rav Aharon and taught all of his children. It seems that one evening Rav Aharon gave Rabbi Abramoff a ride home from learning – down the hill from YU to Washington Heights. As Rav Aharon was driving, they got to an intersection where Rav Aharon would have had to turn off to go home, and Rabbi Abramoff told Rav Aharon to let him off and he would walk the rest of the way.

“Nonsense,” said Rav Aharon. “I started a mitzvah, and I’m going to finish it.” And he took him all the way to his building.

The Abramoff children all said that this was a lesson that their father told them all throughout his life. When you start a mitzvah, do it all the way.

A wonderful lesson indeed.