Rav Reuven Grozovsky: Lessons Learned From Gedolim
The 22nd of Adar is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Reuven (ben Shimshon) Grozovsky, Rosh Yeshivas Kamenitz and Torah Vodaas (1896[1886, per Wikipedia]-1958). Successor of Rav Baruch Ber Lebowitz at Kaminetz. When Rav Reuevn was a young man studying in the Slobodka Yeshiva, his father, the Dayan of Minsk, passed away. His colleagues at Slobodka included Rav Yaakov Yitzchak Halevi Ruderman, Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky, Rav Aharon Kotler and Rav Yitzchak Hutner.
After R’ Reuven Grozovsky, Rosh Yeshiva of Beis Medrash Elyon, had a stroke he was left paralyzed on the right side of his body. The bochurim in the Yeshiva had a rotation to help the Rosh Yeshiva wash negel vasser, hold his siddur and wrap the Rosh Yeshiva’s Tefillin around his arm and head. To make the task an even greater challenge, the Rosh Yeshiva’s left hand would occasionally shake uncontrollably.
On one particular occasion, a new bachur was assigned the task of helping R’ Reuven, and the bachur was very nervous. He had never really spoken with the Rosh Yeshiva before. When he heard R’ Reuven wake up, the nervous young man quickly walked over to help the Rosh Yeshiva wash negel vasser. Unfortunately, R’ Reuven’s hand suddenly shook and the water missed the Rosh Yeshiva’s hand entirely. The embarrassed bachur tried a second time, but this time he was so nervous that he ended up pouring the water all over the Rosh Yeshiva’s bed and clothing. The bachur now wanted to run, but R’ Reuven was relying upon him. The third time he carefully poured the water over R Grozovsky’s hands, held the siddur while R’ Reuven said birchos hashachar and helped put Tefillin on the Rosh Yeshiva. As the bachur was ready to leave, R’ Reuven called him over and chatted with him for a few moments. The bachur left a few minutes later much calmer than before after this pleasant conversation with the Rosh Yeshiva.
When the bachur retold the story to his friends in the Bais Midrash they couldn’t believe it. As far as anyone knew no one could ever remember the Rosh Yeshiva speaking while he was wearing Tefillin. It became clear to everyone that R’ Reuven had made an exception to the rule in order to be able to put the mind of this young bachur at ease.