A Wild Meeting Between Rav Chaim Ozer and a Budding Future Gadol Hador


rav-chaim-ozerThere was a closed-door meeting between the gedolei Yisroel, headed by the gadol hador, Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky zt”l. Shock and confusion permeated in the room when all of a sudden the door burst open. A young man marched right up to Rav Chaim Ozer, grabbed on to his clothing – holding on as if for his dear life. He exchanged a few shouts with Rav Chaim Ozer. The rabbonim present got up to stop this apparently brazen young man shouting at Rav Chaim Ozer, but he motioned to them to leave him alone. When this young man was satisfied with Rav Chaim Ozer’s answer, he marched right out as if nothing out of the ordinary took place.

When Rav Chaim Ozer saw the hurt and shock written all over thei rabbonim‘s faces, he explained that this young man is such a pure soul immersed in Torah to such an extent that it’s his blood life and oxygen and he has absolutely no idea what’s going on around him. When he comes across a difficulty and can’t understand what the Gemara is saying, he chokes up as if trying to catch rav-shachhis breath. Hence, this young man doesn’t have the slightest idea that there is a meeting taking place now in this room. Nor does he know for that matter that there’s a whole room filled with the most distinguished rabbonim in session. “When I finally answered his question to his satisfaction,” said Rav Chaim Ozer, “it was as if he caught his breath and he was able to function again.”

When the Stoliner Rebbe, who was present at the meeting, heard that, he told Rav Chaim Ozer, “A talmid chochom who has such a burning desire for the devar Hashem, I want him as rosh yeshiva of my yeshiva.” Thus, the first official position of the gadol who was later to become the gadol hador, Rav Elazar Menachem Shach zt”l, was as rosh yeshiva of Karlin Stolin.

{Thank you to Rav Mordechai S. Bald, rov of L’viv-Lemberg, Ukraine who submitted this story.}

{Revach.net/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. First time hearing the story; a great dan lachav zechut story even at the level of the gadolim of the past. It’s so deep. A great story!!!

  2. Beautiful story!

    Where in Europe was Karlin Stolin located at that time?

    Interesting how the Stoliner Yeshiva has litvishe Roshei Yeshivos. Rav Avrohom Trop, ztvk”l (son of the Granat)was the Rosh Yeshiva of Karlin Stolin in Boro Park. I’m curious to know if the current Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Wolpin shlit”a is Chasidish or litvish.

  3. The story sounds like it is embellished for sensationalism. Wild meeting? Describing Rav Shach as acting wildly? Grabbing Rav Chaim Ozer? Do you really think Rav Shach was not in control of himself that he would grab Rav Chaim Ozer? I think the story is that he walked in on the meeting and started talking in learning to Rav Chaim Ozer.

  4. Stolin was located in Lita; for this reason they have a Litveshe Ha’avara, and American Stoliner Chasidim do not wear streimels.

  5. This story is Motzei Shame Rah. You present a gadol as someone who is completely oblivious to the world around him .

    Here is a story heard today about Rav Yaacov Kaminetsky, a Gadol. He used to go down to Florida during the winters later on in life. There was another older Yid whom he was friendly with. One winter the older Yid who had a heart condition was supposed to arrive earlier but his flight was delayed. At 11:30 at night Rav Yaacov waited for this Yid in the lobby with a glass of orange juice because he knew the man had to take certain medications which were vile with plain water. (heard from the older gentleman’s son-inlaw) This is a story that one can relate to.

  6. anonymous #9:

    Different strokes for different folks.

    Many Gedolim ARE oblivious to the mundane matters around them. It is inspiring to hear the stories about them.

  7. The way the story is presented is ridiculous. The idea of Rav Shach grabbing onto Rav Cahim Ozer’s clothing is absurd. Who believes this stuff? Worse yet, who writes this stuff? Rav Shach obviously walkede into Rav Chaim Ozer’s office while other rabonim were there and–k’darko bakodesh–got into a heated discussion about the sugya, without noticing the other rabonim.
    Please, leave out the embellishments.


  9. to comment number 16
    it seems you did not know Harav Shach?!.
    I knew him well – it could have happened!

    to comment number 15
    which einikel wrtites english??!!
    which einikel uses the internet??!!
    name please?!

  10. To comment 16 & 18
    At what age did you know rav shach it is said in the name of R’ Yisroel Salanter that it takes 40 years to change a middah and R’ Shach had many of those!