I recently heard the most beautiful story on Torah Anytime, related by Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro shlit”a. It won’t do justice to the tears-springing-to-your-eyes story to just give you a brief summary here, but I guess that’s what I’ll have to do:
Some teenage boys weren’t holding in the greatest of places, and one day they decided to have some fun by making prank calls. One bachur, whom we’ll call Yaakov, decided that he would make a prank call on…none other than Reb Moshe Feinstein zt”l himself. At 11:00 p.m.
“I have an urgent halachic question that can’t wait until the morning,” Yaakov told the Rebbetzin, who had answered the call.
Reb Moshe, who had been sleeping, washed negel vasser and came to the phone. After hearing the phony question, he immediately understood what was going on here. “Tell me,” he said to the young prankster, “what is your name? Where do you learn?”
Yaakov was, understandably, reluctant to reveal his identity, but when the gadol hador assured him that he wouldn’t get him in trouble, he told Reb Moshe his name and the name of his yeshivah.
“And what masechta are you learning?” Reb Moshe questioned further.
Upon hearing the masechta and sugya being learned in the boy’s yeshivah, Reb Moshe proceeded to explain a very difficult kasha on that sugya to Yaakov. But since Yaakov had not been “into” his learning for quite some time now, he did not understand Reb Moshe’s kasha or teretz at all. And so Reb Moshe explained it to him again…and again…and then again. Finally, after an entire hour of this, the boy “got” it.
“Now I want you to tell your rebbi this kasha and teretz tomorrow in yeshivah,” Reb Moshe instructed him.
Yaakov did just that, and his rebbi was amazed. He praised the boy, and actually had the shiur focus on this kasha and teretz for that entire week. Yaakov, in turn, responded to this unexpected but huge compliment by buckling down and putting more effort into his learning.
Yaakov eventually grew to become a well-known marbitz Torah, and he credits all of his spiritual success to Reb Moshe Feinstein. “Reb Moshe believed in me,” he would say. “So how could I not believe in myself?!”
This story is so typical of Reb Moshe Feinstein. It really personifies who this gadol hador was and what he meant to every individual in Klal Yisrael.
If you, like me, were touched by this story, you will love the newest book in our gedolim series: The Light from America, which is about Reb Moshe Feinstein. Like the above account, each of the twenty-five true stories in this book highlights the Torah, middos, brilliance, and sensitivity of Reb Moshe Feintstein—who was, indeed, the “light from America.”
Click here to purchase online.