Two Encounters With HaRav Dovid Feinstein, zt”l

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7 Responses

  1. dr. bill says:

    I never met Rav Dovid ztl but one story told in my family is rather revealing. About 60 years Rav Moshe ztl spent summers at my sister’s In-laws home, largely unbothered and free to write. With three older brothers and a bas zikunim about 15 years younger than the youngest brother, Rav Moshe would remark that his presence detracts from the young girl of about 4-9’s attention. If her ball went into the bushes the RY would get up to retrieve it. A scene I will never forget is a six or seven-year-old girl sitting on Rav Moshe’s lap while he told her about the week’s Parsha.

    roll forward almost 40 years, Rav Moshe is no more and the family is to be honored at an MTJ dinner. Times changed and the organizers told the family that when the award is presented only the three rothers should come up to accept the award. MY BIL called Rav Dovid and reminded him of Rav Moshe’s relationship to his sister. On Rav Dovid’s instructions, she ascended with her brothers to receive the award.

  2. Nachum says:

    As the old expression goes, where you find his anivut, you’ll find his gadlut. And that’s not only in personal terms, but also in how much he’s willing (or, in such cases, not willing) to declare as gospel truth.

    I’m reminded of a story I just read a little while ago about R’ Herschel Schachter. An old friend of his passed away and he went to the shiva, but the man’s son didn’t know him, or of him. So R’ Schachter simply sat there, as halakha requires, and did not speak a word because he was not spoken to. A friend of the avel, who wrote the story and does know who R’ Schachter is, finally managed to signal to his friend that he should speak to him, and the friend asked him who he was. R’ Schachter said he was an old friend of his father’s. And when he was then asked what he did, he said, “I teach at YU.”

    • dr. bill says:

      Nachum, To complete the circle, I heard the following in a hesped for Rav Dovid ztl by someone who does shimush sitting with (and on occasion questioning) Rav Schechter on Friday as he answers sheailot that arise at OU kashrut. On occasion, a pesak of Rav Moshe ztl is not sufficiently clear and Rav Schechter wants to ascertain precisely what the circumstances or basis for the pesak were. Sadly, that source of clarity about Rav Moshe’s pesakim is no longer. Like the original Moshe’s Yehoshua, Rav Dovid was not often absent from the side of his legendary father.

    • mycroft says:

      Re story about Rav Schacter and shiva. True story -everyone is in the olam haemet now. My mother was sitting shiva for her father with her mother. The Rav (RYBS) enters apartment to be menachem navel and sits down. My mother and grandmother with respect for the Rav wait for him speak, not saying a word. Of course, the Rav waits for the navel to speak to him. After a few minutes of silence the Rav gets u and leaves. My mother was surprised and phones my father. We were living far away from where my grandparents were living and tells my father the story. My father tells my mother the Halacha of aveilim having to speak first, and predicts correctly the Rav will return for a shiva call at a different time. He tells my mother , when the Rav returns just say a couple of words to the Rav and he’ll lead the rest of the shiva visit. My father was correct, the Rav came back a couple of days later, my mother followed my fathers advice and made a much appreciated shiva call to my mother

  3. Ari L says:

    Dr Bill, how old was the sister when she ascended?

  4. Shades of Gray says:

    Rabbi Elchanan Adler, who learned in MTJ,  spoke about Rav Dovid, in the shiur linked below: 

    R. Adler mentioned  that Rav Dovid said in an interview about his father, Rav Moshe, to focus on his middos and chesed which people could be inspired to emulate. Likewise,  R.  Efrem Goldberg’s  article, referring to both R’ Dovid and Rabbi Sacks said, that  “We cannot all be gedolim in Torah, but we can all be gedolim, achieve greatness in chesed, in kindness, and we can be gedolim in humility and how we treat our spouses and families.” 

    Rav Dovid, R. Adler said, in a beautiful drush in his  Hagadah shiur, referred to when we tell the chacham to  leave the  taste of afikomen in his mouth. This represents telling the chacham to come down from the intellectual ivory tower, being too much in his head,  and instead, to taste the experience of freedom on a visceral level, on an emotional level like the regular person. We tell him to balance  your wisdom with a very down to earth quality, and feel the freedom on a very human level. This captured Rav Dovid’s  whole essence as well, connecting with the common person, such as his interactions in the  pizza shop, and as the Gemara says(regarding Hashem) “where you find his greatness, one finds his humility”(41:00).  

    Rav Dovid was non-political, and had no compunctions  with R’ Adler  attending RIETS;  R’ Dovid in fact attended the sheloshim at YU for R’ Soloveitchik with his brother R’ Reuvein(14:00).  

    Rabbi Adler also spoke about Rabbi Sacks at the beginning of the above appreciation for Rav Dovid, saying that we should recognize that Klal Yisrael is not monolithic and thrives with all different kinds of leaders. He noted that ironically, R. Dovid and R. Sacks were both connected with publishers, Artscroll and Koren, respectively; perhaps the  hidden message is that it behooves  us to come together and appreciate  that we are ultimately one people and to  treasure that unity.  Rabbi Efrem Goldberg wrote about both Rabbi Feinstein and  Rabbi Sacks in his article; at the end of his  “Behind the Bima Podcast”, R. Goldberg likewise said that if they both were in the same room, “they would have infinitely more in common than what divided them” and be able to speak together for a long time.  Other shiurim on YU Torah spoke about both as well.    

    Rabbi Zvi Romm from the Lower East Side has an essay on Lerhaus about Rav Dovid, titled  “Everyman’s Gadol” in a world of elitism; R. Romm also spoke to R. Efrem Goldberg about Rav Dovid on the above-mentioned “Behind the Bima Podcast.”

  5. Rabbi Akiva Males says:

    Yesterday, I read a beautiful appreciation of Rav Dovid Feinstein, zt”l written by Rabbi Zvi Romm at Lerhaus.
    Here’s the link:

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