Nov 12, 2006

a new twist to an old tale

There is a famous story told over. I have heard it a number of times involving the Steipler (Rav Yisrael Yaakov Kanievsky) Gaon, but I am sure it has been told over using various names. Who it was with is not important, so here is the story.

A man came to the Steipler (or [insert name of your favorite miracle working Rabbi here]) looking for a bracha for his daughter to get married. He tells the Steipler that she is older and has had a difficult time finding her soul mate.

The Steipler asked him if he had ever made a kiddush celebrating her birth when she was younger. The man answered he had not. For various reasons he had delayed the kiddush and then just did not feel it important enough to make after so long.

The Steipler told him that the purpose of the kiddush is so that many people will come offering their brachos on behalf of the girl. It is those brachos that help her succeed later in life, specifically in finding a shidduch. he said that because the young woman was lacking all those brachos that is why it is difficult for her to find her bashert. He said to make a kiddush for her, despite her older age (I would guess it was in the mid to upper 20s but do not know) and she would find hatzlacha.

The story goes that he made a kiddush for hisolder daughter and winthin the year she was married.

Why do I relate this story?

I just heard the same story with a new twist. Or maybe the new twist makes it into a different story.

A friend of mine just told me that this Friday night he made a shalom zachor. The funny thing about this is he did not have a child. He is a 42 year old guy, not married, and no kids, but he made a shalom zachor.

I asked him, "What are you talking about?"

He said he asked a Rav (I think the Vesloi Rebbe) what to do to improve his brain power (he is a bit slow up top, (not meant as an insult just some background info for the story) in some areas and he knows it. He is always on the prowl for methods to improve his mind so he can learn better (more background: he became a baal teshuva a few years ago and has no background in learning torah but wants to be able to understand better what he learns).

So, he asked the Vesloi Rebbe what he could do to better understand. The Rebbe asked him if his parents had ever mad e for him a shalom zachor. He called his mother and asked. She said no they did not. They were not religious and only did the main things (bris for example) but not a shalom zachor.

He told the Rebbe that he had never had a shalom zachor. The rebbe told him that he should make for himself a shalom zachor and he will see improvement in his learning and understanding.
I would guess this is because when a fetus prepares to leave the womb, the midrashim say that the malach that had taught the baby torah in the womb touches the lip of the baby to cause him/her to forget what it had learned. The shalom zachor (one of the reasons at least) is a form of mourning for the Torah that was lost upon leaving the womb. If no shalom zachor is held, I would venture to guess, the persons mind is not open to retrieving that ability to learn Torah.

So this Friday night my 42 year old friend made for himself a shalom zachor in the Vesloi Beis Medrash in Tel Aviv. Mazel tov.


  1. I heard the first story. Didn't know one needed a shalom zachor to get married well good for him.

  2. you misunderstood it... it was not to get married, but to be able to better understand what he learns..
    the first story was about marriage..

  3. rafi - I'm not sure where to begin....

    1. mazal tov to your friend. whatever makes him happy, kol hakavod, no matter how ridiculous. If it's harmless and psychologically calming, good for him.

    2. so what about all the baalei teshuvah who never had a sholom zachor, yet get married and learn well? why aren't they "behind"?

    3. theer is another story attributed to the steipler. A middle aged, single man came complaining he hasn't yet met his bashert, why is he being punished. The steipler respondede, yes you did, but you passed her up for the next girl and then the next. This is a lesson that "bashert" doesn't mean easy and perfect. It requires work, even if she's right for you. As well, what one may think is the satan stopping, may be just you being a moron, and really god is sending you help that you keep passing up.

    4. These "stories" are for specific people to follow, not the general public. Maybe the rabbi just felt this man was looking for something to focus on and settle his mind about, and this type of fix, is what he needed. BUT, it's not for the rest of us to take as a solution to our problems.

    5. seriously - mazal tov to your friend, I wasn't kidding....

    yes I am the more cynical of us, but it balances us all out.

  4. to clarify point 4: I actually am impressed by the rov who reccommended this approach. He obviously saw your friend needed something tangible to "make up" for something "missing" and found something. I think it is brilliant (as much as I think it is narishkeit as well). but from a psychological standpoint, I think it's great.

  5. it was a great idea, and if it calms the guy down, all the better. At least until 6 months frmo now and he wonders why he is not smart, after all he mad e a shalom zachor!

    Anyway, my point in the story was not to bash anybody, just to mention an interesting and funny story that happened.

  6. I know the first was about marriage so I skimmed the second and figured it was also about marriage thanks for clarifying it.


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