Reb Chaim received a call one evening.
“Hello, is this Rabbi Goldzweig?” asked the man on the line.
“Yes, it is.”
“I am visiting from Toronto for business and staying in a hotel downtown. I was told to call you for information about where I can get kosher food,” the caller explained.
Rabbi Goldzweig told the man that the kosher stores and restaurants were all located on the north side of Chicago, but that they would probably be closing within the hour. The man sounded disappointed that he would not be able to make it in time to get something to eat.
Reb Chaim told the man, “You know what? Let me stop off at the store and get you some sandwiches and I’ll bring them down to you. I should be there in about an hour.”
The man protested that Reb Chaim shouldn’t bother, but Reb Chaim told him not to worry about anything.
An hour later, Rabbi Goldzweig reached the hotel and saw a distinguished-looking Orthodox Jew in the lobby. He introduced himself and handed him a bag of sandwiches and other food.
“I can’t believe you came all the way downtown just for me!” the man said. “How much do I owe you?” He pulled out his wallet.
“Don’t worry about it. It’s my pleasure,” Reb Chaim reassured the man.
The man smiled and shook Reb Chaim’s hand. “My name is Moshe Reichmann and, thank G-d, I can afford to pay for it. I refuse to take the food without paying. Please tell me how much I owe you.”
Rabbi Goldzweig had never heard of the famous Canadian philanthropist. He smiled back and said, “Well, my name is Chaim Goldzweig, and have you ever heard of something called chessed? I refuse to take money for a chessed.”
Mr. Reichmann looked at Rabbi Goldzweig incredulously. “Have you ever heard of me? My company is Olympia and York.”
“Hmm.” Rabbi Goldzweig thought for a moment. “I know where Olympia is and I know where York is, but they are nowhere near each other! But listen, if you want, you can take the money and give it to tzedakah instead.”
A little while later, Rabbi Goldzweig received a call from one of the rabbis at the OU.
“Chaim, you know you brought food to a man staying downtown?”
“Yeah,” Rabbi Goldzweig said. “He said his name is Reichmann or something like that. Why do you ask?”
“Chaim, that was Moishe Reichmann, one of the richest people in the world. You asked him if he knows what chessed is? He is one of the biggest ba’alei tzedakah around. He just called me to see if we have people from the moon working for the OU!”
But Reb Chaim wasn’t impressed. He would have done the same thing had the man not had a penny to his name.
Meet Reb Chaim Goldzweig. If you hadn’t heard of him until now, the above anecdote illustrates exactly the kind of person he was. A larger-than-life figure, he was the one on whose shoulders rested much of the kashrus industry of the world. But that was in the public eye.
In the privacy of his home, Reb Chaim was a ba’al tzedakah who supported countless individuals and institutions—even though he was not a rich man. He was the man who ran an open house that was literally just that: a house where random guests and homeless people felt comfortable opening the fridge, answering the phones, and changing the temperature of the thermostat, as if they were all bona-fide family members. He was the scion of chassidic Rebbes, whose bitachon in Hashem was genuine and absolute. And, of course, he was a beloved husband, father, and zeidy, who enjoyed nothing more than pampering his loved ones.
The Chief, written by a son-in-law, Rabbi Ephraim Nisenbaum, offers a peek into the life and legacy of Reb Chaim Goldzweig. In this book, you will read the fascinating history of the kashrus movement in America, and the enormous role that Reb Chaim played in it. You will also read many of the sometimes-scary-sometimes-hilarious-but always-entertaining stories that Reb Chaim experienced along his colorful journey as a globe-trotting mashgiach. As well, you will gain immeasurable chizuk and inspiration from the actions of this humble, self-effacing giant in chessed.
Click here to purchase online.