Rav Elyashiv and The Stranger at the Wall: The Gadol Hador and an Episode of Hashgacha


rav-elyashivThe couple had been childless for about 15 years and they decided to end their unsuccessful marriage in the least painful manner. A short while after their divorce, the woman discovered that she was pregnant. The only thing standing in the way of her ex-husband remarrying her was that his name was Cohen and a kohen is prohibited from marrying any divorcee, even his own.

Heartbroken, he turned to the posek hador, Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, for guidance. The gadol hador told him that there was no way he could halachically permit such a marriage if he was a kohen. However, Rav Elyashiv urged him to go daven at the Kosel for Heavenly assistance.

The advice seemed a bit strange, and without reason, but Rav Elyashiv had said that he should go to the Kosel, and go he did.

As the husband stood before the sacred wall tearfully and loudly davening, he felt a tap on his shoulder. When asked what he was lamenting about, the husband told the stranger his sad story.

“Do you have a father?” asked the stranger.

The husband replied that his father was in an old-age home in the United States. The stranger urged the husband to immediately fly to visit his father. Although failing to understand what point there was in visiting his frail father who could hardly communicate, the husband decided to follow this advice.

When he arrived at his father’s bedside, the doctor in attendance told the husband that his father, Mr. Cohen, had not spoken for months and he should not expect to communicate with him. However, as the son related his problem, the father, to everyone’s surprise, suddenly spoke. With his minimal stregnth, he informed the husband that he was not actually his son, but rather a child he had adopted after the Holocaust. This meant that he was not a kohen after all.

In shock, the husband just sat there, realizing what this meant. Not being a kohen, he’d be able to remarry his wife.

He flew back to Eretz Yisroel with a heart full of joy, with eternal gratitude to the Ribono Shel Olam for everything he’d bestowed upon him, and with utter amazement at the counsel of the gadol hador in Meah Shearim who seemed to have known something he did not.

{By Rabbi Mendel Weinbach, with Dovid Bernstein-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. hmmm something about the story does nit make sense, the holocoast happened 70 years ago, how old is the man?
    besides this is a story that happened with R’ Moshe 40 years ago.

  2. the story is actally that this couple was not sure wether to divorce or not and they asked 2 people wether to divorce or not 1 was a certain gadol and the other was the lubavitcher rebbe. the gadol said get divorced and the rebbe said dont get divorced and they listened to the gadol then when the woman found out she was expecting they realized they had a problem with a kohen marrying a divorcee so they wwent back to the rebbe who told them to ask his parents who confirmed that he was adopted

  3. our faith is not a belief in “miracles”, and the more we push it with thsese “miraculous” events the more people will be turned off. See all the comments above about the veracity of this story. And now think about how easily the same doubts can be extrapolated to many, many things in Judaism. Hatzlacha.

  4. No one paskens anymore to divorce after 10 or 15 years. Modern medicine first determines whether the problem is with the man or the woman. Most often, it is the man. Divorce doesn’t solve the problem.
    All these stories without names or places are doubtable.
    But it’s still a good story.

  5. I find it offensive that you refer to a childless marriage as an unsuccesful one. We could each write a book on gedolim who had childless but succesful marriages. Every person and every couple has a tafkid that can be fulfilled even without the RBSO blessing them with children

  6. This story was told, with the Steipler ZT”L.

    How do we know we can believe the elderly father? Maybe he is at the stage where he is suffering from dementia r”l? Also, don’t we need Eidim?