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The Schmooze

Sacrifice for Ailing Rabbi

Israel’s Orthodox community is anxious, as the country’s most revered rabbi, Yosef Shalom Eliyashiv, is in a serious condition at a Jerusalem hospital. The 101-year-old scholar has been in a coma for almost two weeks. In synagogues across the country worshipers are praying for him — but some people are going further.

One Orthodox Jerusalemite, identified in the religious media just as Aaron B, has reportedly made a deal with the Almighty to shorten his own life by a year and give the time to Eliyashiv.

He is quoted as having said that “we are in a time that the gedolei yisrael [great rabbis] as the pillar of our existence and without them we won’t be able to continue maintaining a proper lifestyle. We need Rav Elyashiv and other gedolei hador to lead and guide us.” He said that he would do the same for other rabbis. “During laining [the Torah reading] I was seated aside a chossid wearing a shtreimel, who asked me ‘why are you smiling. Would you give a year for me rebbe, the Satmar Rebbe too?’ I told him yes, of course. To all the gedolei Torah, Rav Kanievsky and Rav Ovadia too for they are protecting our generation.”

The original-thinking Beit Shemesh Orthodox rabbi Natan Slifkin (aka the Zoo Rabbi) draws an interesting conclusion from this strange sacrifice. He says that if Haredim are okay with this kind of sacrifice, how can they maintain their opposition to organ donation from brain-dead people? “For a person to volunteer in advance to give up that life in order to save several healthy people is surely even more worthwhile a sacrifice than for this avreich to give up an entire year of his life for a 101-year-old,” he argues in this thought-provoking blog.

Hat tip to Jeremy Godley and Ben Vos.

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