Rav Avrohom Yehoshua Soloveitchik’s Red Line

62

rav-avrohom-yehoshua-soloveitchikBy Kollel Guy for Matzav.com

Recently, Rav Avrohom Yehoshua Soloveitchik told someone this story:

A wealthy man had come to Eretz Yisroel to complete a business deal which netted him a profit of $12 million. He wished to distribute the maaser to a worthy organization, and someone recommended for him to give the money to Yeshivas Brisk. He came to Rav Avrohom Yehoshua and handed him a check for $3 million. Rav Avrohom Yehoshua thanked him for his donation, but told the man that he would first need to verify that the money is from kosher sources before he can accept it.

Rav Avrohom Yehoshua then instructed his assistants to investigate the “sources” of the money. They were to verify three things about the business:

a) none of it is stolen

b) none of it comes from Shabbos desecration

c) none of it is from immoral activities

After some time, the research turned out to be inconclusive, and they reported back to Rav Avrohom Yehoshua that they could not determine with certainty that the money was 100% kosher. Rav Avrohom Yehoshua returned the check to the donor, uncashed.

We’re not finished yet.

Rav Avrohom Yehoshua continued: “And do you think that all during this time I couldn’t sleep because I was wondering about the outcome? No, I slept like a baby without giving it a second thought.”

For Rav Avrohom Yehoshua, to take money from questionable sources means to cross a big bright red line, one that should not – and will not – be crossed, just like Shabbos and eating kosher food is to us. Most of us would not be tempted to desecrate Shabbos for a financial gain, even if it were substantial, because Shabbos to us is a “red line,” never to be crossed for any purpose. And we wouldn’t lose sleep over it, either.

What is your red line?

{Kollel Guy/Matzav.com Newscenter}

62 COMMENTS

  1. This is story seems to have no relevance to regular people who are under financial strain to pay for tuition, mortgage, son in law, wedding..

  2. Thank you for publishing this story. It is famous to those who know about beis brisk that torah can only be built with kosher money regardless of how much money may be at stake.

  3. Thank you for an inspiring story. May I add that, to my knowledge, Brisk is the only Yeshiva that manages financially without the Rosh HaYeshiva having to come to America to collect AND without having to make ANY American fundraisers! Apparently the Ribbono Shel Olam still runs the world!!!

  4. i had the zechus to learn by the rosh yeshiva for 4 years. while there the bm had no ac and the olam asked for ac as it was unbearable in the summer. he said that he would have to find a donor that had never previously given to the yeshiva. the reason being if it was from a previous donor the donation for the ac might take away from the kollel stipend and he didnt wan to take that risk. bottom line he is a ish emes that keeps the torah pure.

  5. Something is not right about the story.
    1- What type of person was offering the donation that would cause Rav AY Soloveitchik to be concerned? We all know people that if they offered such a donation to Rav AY Soloveitchik he would have no reason to be choshesh for such issues.
    2- If there was inconclusive information why wasn’t it clarified? Obviously there was cause for concern.
    3- If I was yene millionaire & Rav AY Soloveitchik returned my check I’d question his reasoning & clarify for him whatever needs clarification.

    Obviously something was very fishy about the person, the deal or both.

    That being said its still very impressive to hold such high standards with so much at stake.

  6. What is Matzav’s red line? Clearly, Matzav accepts advertisement income from an ad that demeans gadlus ha adam, as evidenced by the guy who appears to be drunk and is shown in his moment of disgrace.

  7. Sadly I would have to disagree with you on that–I think that the guy was quite sober and had a few dollars thrown his way. But you should be dan Matzav lekaf zechus–maybe they are Novardokers and are giving us a lesson in the extent of shiflus ha’adam.

  8. that’s the REAL way to build Torah AL TAHARAS HAKODESH, and it’s a nissoion that not everybody can go thru, you have to be a real GODOL !!!!!!!!

  9. He earned $12M, and wanted to give $3M as ma’aser.

    The problem with this story is that according to higher calculus, ma’aser of $12M is only $1.2M.

    If he wanted to be extravagant, and give “chomesh”, that would come to $2.4M.

    Is this meant as a “maa’seh rav”, that Rav Avrohom Yehoshua holds that in certain circumstances a person may give more than “chomesh” (in this case 25% of the net profits)?

  10. What is Matzavs red line? (I don’t expect this to be printed, but at least the editor will hopefully read it!) They had a recording of Hilchos purim.
    Although they seem to hold a higher standard then most Jewish owned news sites, this still should’ve been a red line that wont be crossed!

  11. how is 3 off 12 mil. add up to maser (10%) ? even choimesh would be only 2.4 mil.! maybe being mafrish for chaluka money , hamivazbaz al .. yoser mecoimesh does not apply !

  12. it is well know by those close to the rosh yeshiva that he does not take money from just anyone
    My father has given him millions over 25 years, and each and every time it is a whole eisek, and he does not just accept money. His yashrus is unparalled.

  13. i was told by a big rov that the Chofetz Chaim tz”l too didn’t take non-kosher money, but nowadays nobody (at least almost nobody) is on the madreiga to refuse it

  14. A magid shiur told me that just before he became Bar Mitzva, his father took him to R’ Shimon Schwab for a brocha. At one point, R’ Schwab asked rethorically: Why are there no g’dolim b’Torah in America? He asnwered: Because of the treife gelt that reaches the yeshivos. Here we have the Rosh Yeshiva of Brisk, who follows in the footsteps of his ancestors, checking on the credentials of the donors. May he be blessed.

  15. To the extent this story is nuanced and accurate as retold here it raises a number of interesting points. First, a 4th concern, which arguably falls somewhere between a) and b), but is considerably more murky and may (certainly should) have been intended as well, is whether the profit was earned from any illegal activities, irrespective of being stolen or halachically amoral. Second, the amount of the donation, or 25% of a specific windfall return, is on its face beyond any chiyuv or minhag maaser kesafim and therefore likely per se creates a duty to inquire as to its legitimacy – improper behavior does not necessarily run in pairs, and, while difficult to reconcile, it is not unheard of for a ganav or otherwise criminal actor to contribute significantly to tzedaka from those very forbidden fruits. In fact, there are obvious motivators and convoluted rationales that could elicit a more extravagant donation from the ill-begotten than from the legally acquired. Of note, anti-money laundering, privacy and foreign corrupt practices laws in the US utilize red flags or suspicious indicators as a framework which financial firms are required to use in identifying, rooting out and preventing certain illegal activities from infecting the financial system

  16. To the extent this story is nuanced and accurate as retold here it raises a number of interesting points. First, a 4th concern, which arguably falls somewhere between a) and b), but is considerably more murky and may (certainly should) have been intended as well, is whether the profit was earned from any illegal activities, irrespective of being stolen or halachically amoral. Second, the amount of the donation, or 25% of a specific windfall return, is on its face beyond any chiyuv or minhag maaser kesafim and therefore likely per se creates a duty to inquire as to its legitimacy – improper behavior does not necessarily run in pairs, and, while difficult to reconcile, it is not unheard of for a ganav or otherwise criminal actor to contribute significantly to tzedaka from those very forbidden fruits. In fact, there are obvious motivators and convoluted rationales that could elicit a more extravagant donation from the ill-begotten than from the legally acquired. Of note, anti-money laundering, privacy and foreign corrupt practices laws in the US utilize red flags or suspicious indicators as a framework which financial firms are required to use in identifying, rooting out and preventing certain illegal activities from infecting the financial system

  17. One Shabbos morning I was walking with my uncle from the USA. My uncle needed desparetly a cup of coffee. I didn’t keep a samvar of hot water for shabbos. We met Reb avrohom Yehoshua walking to Shachris, my uncle asked him where he could get a cup of coffee (i almost fell through the floor) Rev Avrohom Yeshua told me to rake him to a certain individual right there in the area- What a Tzadik.

  18. Mr. 60:
    What makes somebody the biggest marbitz torah, not the # of talmidim?
    Aren’t there bigger yeshivas?
    The biggest problem today is everybody’s ego. You don’t feel good unless YOUR rosh yeshiva or YOUR rebbe is the greatest, because theh you thimk YOU’ll be the greatest.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here