Yahrtzeit of Rav Dessler zt’l

The 25th of Teves is the yahrtzeit of Rav Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler zt’l, one of the most influential post World War II baalei mussar.


I’d like to re-examine one of my favorite about him, originally posted here


When Rav Dessler came to America in 1948, he met up with his son, Nachum Velvel in New York. Rav Dessler asked his son who had help him during his years alone in America? His son mentioned several people in New York along with Rabbi Eliezer Silver, the head of Agudah Israel and the rav of Cincinnati. Rav Dessler said, “We must thank him.”
His son offered to place a telephone call to Rabbi Silver, but Rav Dessler wanted to show personal hakaros hatov to Rabbi Silver. Nachum Velvel and his father then took a nine hour train ride to Ohio, arriving at 5:00 am in Cincinnati. Then went to Rabbi Silver’s home and waited on the porch to meet Rabbi Silver as he left his house for davening.
Rabbi Silver met his two guests when he woke up and they all went to shul and then back to the Silver’s for breakfast. After a bite to eat, Rabbi Silver said, “So, Rav Dessler, what brings you to Cincinnati?” Rav Dessler said that he had only come to show appreciation to Rabbi Silver for all he had done for his son.
Rabbi Silver thought about this and again asked, “So, Rav Dessler, what really brings you to Cincinnati?”
Rav Dessler said that he had no other purpose that to show hakaros hatov. Rabbi Silver asked, “Rav Dessler, what can I do for you?”
Rav Dessler, for a third time, repeated that he only wished to show gratitude to Rabbi Silver in person.
Rabbi Silver finally gave up and muttered, “This must be mussar.”
(Paraphrased from the Artscroll biography of Rav Dessler, by Yonoson Rosenbloom) 


I had originally thought about writing something regarding Rav Desslers view of perfecting middos and our own subjectivity or his view on the importance of tefillah (praying), but I am going with a more down to earth message.  

A common theme among mussar teaching is the need to emphasize the mitzvos bein adam l’chavero (between person and person), while keeping in mind that recognizing the “Godliness” within each person falls into the venue of bein adam l’makom (between a person and Hashem).

Those who are great people in the arena of character development are such because they think.  Most of the times we feel slighted, turned off, distance or conflicted about relationships with others is because one party simply didn’t think about the other person.  We don’t take time to really appreciate others or truly think about how someone else would feel when we give our opinion about something.


So, as we come to the end of a week and start another, I will try to think more about those I interact with and attempt to bring kiddusha (holiness) to my relationships.  The greatness of the story above, in my opinion, is that Rav Dessler gave thought to what he could do to show appreciation.
    

For other postings about Rav Dessler please click here.





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