Sunday, July 21, 2019

When the "Cheshik Shlomo" The Popular Commentator on Shas, Presented a Sefer Torah to Theodore Herzl

The following story in honor of the 115th Yurzeit of the founder of the State of Israel, Theodore Herzl, which will be on this Tuesday the 20th of Tammuz ..

Anyone opening any Gemarrah printed in the last 15 years, including those learning in Yeshivois and Kollilim, will find the commentaries of Rav Shlomo Ha'Kohein  who served as Rav of Vilna, one hundred years ago, on every daf.
 Rav Shlomo HaKohein is better known by his famous commentary חשק שלמה ..... The Cheishik Shlomo!

To give you an idea how great the חשק שלמה was... The Chofetz Chayim had his haskama on the Mishna Berurah!
He authored over 37 Sefarim and answered over 1,500 Shaalois in his sefer בנין שלמה

What these Kollel guys don't know is that, the Vilna Rav and Posik, opened the welcome mat and was right up front  greeting the founder of Zionism, Theodore Herzl, when Herzl visited the city of Vilna in 1903, on the 23rd day of Av, a year before Herzl died.

The חשק שלמה who was well in his years, got dressed up in his Shabbos finest, and clutching a Sefer Torah walked over to the Zionist Leader and presented Herzl with the Sefer Torah as a gift from the entire Vilna Kehillah! 
The Rav who was a kohein then placed his holy hands on Herzl's head and blessed him with Birchas Kohanim....

How does DIN know this?

We know this story from someone who witnessed the scene and described it.

None other than Rav Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg z"l, the author of the famous Shaalois Utshuvois famously called 
"שרידי אש
who records the scene in vivid detail!

וילנה החרדית והעתיקה נתנה לרגשותיה העמוקים ביטוי מלאו הוד של כבוד . 
מורה ההוראה הזקן ונשוא הפנים בווילנה, הגאון הזקן והישיש ר' שלמה הכהן, מסר להרצל בשם ירושלים דליטא ס''ת קטן
ובהניחו את ידי הכהן החיוורות שלו על ראש הרצל בעל הוד שבמלכות, לחשו שפתי הכהן הזקן 
ספר תורה זה יוליך אותנו לא''י 
פני הרצל חוורו, דמעות זלגו מעיניו 
הרב הזקן עמד בקושי על רגליו, אולם לא רצה לשבת בנוכחותו של הרצל
וזה אמר
יישב נא רבינו תחילה, זקן הוא ממני, וגם חכם
מלים אלה צילצלו באוזני הנוכחים כסמל להשתייכותו לווילנה העתיקה והחרדית, לעם העתיד והחרד 


KLM said...

Herzl recorded in his diary during the spring of 1895:approximately two years ago, I wanted to solve the Jewish problem, in Austria at any rate, with the aid of the Catholic leaders there. I sought an audience with the Pope in order to tell him: "Help us against anti-Semitism,
and I will generate a mass movement of Jews to convert to Christianity freely and proudly "The leaders of the movement particularly myself will remain Jews, and as Jews they will call for the acceptance of the dominant religion. On Sunday at noon, the conversion will be carried out with a festive procession and the ringing of bells. Not in shame, as individuals have done in the past, but with pride. The fact that the leaders will preserve their Jewishness and remain outside while they lead the masses to the church doors will lend distinction to the entire matter and invest it with a sense of great sincerity "We courageous ones would have to be an interim generation. We would still maintain our ancestral faith, but we would baptize our young children before they reach the age of independent decision, a time when conversion to Christianity becomes either a frightening experience or a stepping-stone to a higher station".

Herzl's favorable attitude to Christianity did not restrict itself tothe realm of theory alone, but expressed itself in deed as well. In his diary from Decemeber 24, 1895, Herzl recorded: "I was busy lighting a Christmans tree for my children when Gideman came to visit. He was shocked to see my high regard for Christianity."

Funny Stange said...

SO doesn't change the story...
Herzl coming from an assimilated house still wanting to stop anti-Semitism...and he thought at that time, that that would be a good way to do it .......
he learned later that it wasn't a good idea ....
the fact that he lit a an x-mas tree ... means nothing ... in the total picture ... as Herzl was the one who founded the Jewish state ...
You know pal ... if you wish you can talk about Dovid Hamelech as well and his background ...

Hey pal.... why didn't you mention that in the same diary ... years later he mentions that he would want the Jewish people to rebuild the Bais Ha'mikdash ....???
Oh ..that doesn't fit into your hateful scenario ...does it?

The bottom line ...your account of Herzl's initial way to stop anti-Semitism doesnt change the posted story .. at all ..
in fact it shows the respect what real gedoilim , real talmedei Chachmim gave him!

Unknown said...

If today is his 115th yortziet, than it is 114 years since his soon converted to Christianity. In his first yortziet.

Dusiznies said...

To KLM & 12:48
I envy the Olam Habah of Herzl ... a man who had the vision and the courage in face of all opposition from both Christians and Jews like you, to go ahead and provide a home for all Jewish people!

In fact because of what you wrote ... makes my post fascinating and more important ...
here we have a guy who had an x-mas tree in his house and yet a Gadol Hador who is relevant today, as we learn his commentaries in the Daf HaYoimie every single day ..... yet he gave him the highest respect and presented him with a Sefer Torah ...
shows you how real gedoilim appreciated Herzl's sacrifice for the Jewish People ....
now even Satmar and Yeshivishe anti-Zionists who commit unbelievable crimes in the US and Europe have a place to run to...


Herzl came from a totally assimilated home with zero knowledge in Judaism. He was different than all the others because he was the one who cared for the pain
of his fellow Jews. He tried to do something about it. At first, he tried to solve the problem of antisemitism by having all Jews convert to Christianity.
It didn't take long to realize that this won't work. He wouldn't give up and
came up with a new solution "Zionism"
Even the Satmerer anti-Zionist will admit that all those Maskilim that opposed Herzl & Zionism are none existent today. They all converted and intermarried.
The only ones who are left and part of the Jewish nation are the ones who went along with his dream and live today in the State that no one believed could ever happen.
It's in the Zchus of Herzl that we have millions of our brethren who are still Jews today.
Hopefully, by now you will understand what the חשק שלמה understood then and others didn't

chusid101 said...

Herzl mentions his encounter with the Gaon in his diary.

P.s. could you please provide us where Rabbi Weinberg writes this story.

Dusiznies said...

It's in his sefer "Sereedei Aish"

chusid101 said...

I have his sefer. Cd you please show me the page. Thanks.

Funny Stange said...

Chusid 101
I believe its in his hakdama