1. Reb Moshe’s sensitivity when offering advice took on many forms. Once, a young man wrote a note to Reb Moshe, seeking his advice in a very delicate, personal problem. Upon receiving the note, Reb Moshe immediately took another piece of paper and wrote a response. The next day, he phoned the young man and asked that he meet him at Reb Moshe’s apartment, where the Rosh Yeshivah climbed on a stool to take down an envelope which had been placed inside another envelope. “Here is the note that you sent me yesterday,” he said. “I realize that it’s very personal and I didn’t want you to worry that some day in the future someone would read it. I am giving it back to you so that you can dispose of it yourself.” (Reb Moshe, Expanded Edition) (privacy, knock and force mashkon)


  1. AHARON GROSS RECALLED AN INCIDENT THAT ILLUSTRATES his father’s sensitivity; My father was driving me somewhere one afternoon when I received a phone call from a close friend who wanted to discuss something very personal. I felt that it would be proper to speak in privacy, so I began to tell my friend that I would return his call later: But my father imme- diately understood the problem and said, “Aharon, you continue talking —— I’m getting out of the car so you’Il have privacy.” I wanted to tell my father that this was not necessary, but he did not give me the chance. He had already pulled over to the side of the road and alighted from the cm; and he stood outside in the bitter cold until the phone call was completed. 279 Shloime!, By Rabbi Shimon Finkelman, Published by Artscroll Mesorah (privacy)


  1. EVEN THE SMALL and seemingly insignificant things that R’ Chaim did turned out, again and again, to have a significant reason behind them — a calculation involving a mitzvah, a logic based on holiness. If, for example, he used to walk from his house in Battei Machseh to the center of the city by means of a slightly roundabout route, going by Rechov Hamidan rather than by the vaulted alleyways near the Shaar HaShamaim Yeshivah — he had a reason for it. In these alleys, he once explained, there was a section which was entirely roofed over and very dark. In such a place it was possible, he explained, for a situation to occur which might involve a violation of the law which prohibits a man from secluding himself with a woman. The fact that the situation was very unlikely to occur, and that even if it did, it was questionable whether it really constituted a violation of the law, did not deter R’ Chaim. He felt a personal obligation to avoid the problem entirely, and he was willing to inconvenience himself day after day, and year after year, in order to avoid this remote possibility of a transgression. Or for example: R’ Chaim would only walk in the middle of the streets of Battei Machseh even though the jagged and uneven paving there made it difficult for him to walk. When a friend asked him why he troubled himself this way instead of walking on the smooth and level sidewalk, R’ Chaim answered: “All my life I have tried to stay at least four cubits away from other people’s windows‘. Since the sidewalk here passes directly by the windows of some houses, I prefer to walk in the middle of the street.” Or: Once when he was already advanced in years, R’ Chaim returned home from a bris in the old Beis Yisrael neighborhood via Meah Shearim. His friends, however, urged him to walk home through the Shaare Pinah district, in order to avoid the steep and difficult climb which would be required by the route through Meah Shearim. R’ Chaim refused to listen to them and insisted on the more difficult route. His explanation: “All my life, this is the way I have gone, and I would not want, in my old age, to start changing my ways. True, the climb is a more difficult one, but this route takes me closer to the site of the Beis HaMikdash.” Any one of these incidents considered by itself seems a mere trifle. But together, they and countless others like them formed the building blocks of a life in which every step upon the earth was measured in terms of its proximity to the site of the Beis Hamikdash 202 Guardian of Jerusalem, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Sonnenfeld, Published by Artscroll Mesorah (privacy)