Another gadol has been taken from us.
R' Chaim Pinchos Scheinberg was niftar yesterday.
It's scary. It's a shock. We need our gedolim. We need their zechusim.
When I was in seminary, I went along with a friend of mine to clean his house for Pesach. It was actually very exciting beforehand that we were able to be the ones to go. There was a girl who did chessed in his house every week but she was going back to America for Pesach so she asked a friend who asked a friend and eventually, it got to my friend and the two of us went together.
I cannot describe to you the feeling of true awe to be standing in front of a gadol of that stature. We were going to clean his house for Pesach. It felt like such a scary responsibility. Who am I to make sure Rav Scheinberg's house is chometz free? But his outlook on cleaning for Pesach was that it should be done b'nachas - calmly and happily and Pesach should not be a time of stress for the whole family. No, there is no chiyuv to go thru the corners of each drawer with a toothpick to get rid of the dust that's in between the cracks. Yes, you need to clean. But the idea is to get rid of chometz, not dust. You should not make yourself crazy.
I remember going through the kitchen cabinets and I thought it was so cute to see how they were savers (just like me :) ). They saved every little mini vodka bottle they had obviously gotten from different people for mishloach manos. They even had these mini salt and pepper holders that they had gotten on an El-Al flight (many years ago-that I could tell)...it was still high up in their kitchen cabinets.
I remember getting instructions from Rav Scheinberg on how he wanted us to line the cabinets with silver foil, unraveling it together with my friend and joking around...how he told us how to clean behind the refrigerator but do it simply and not work too hard...At some points, his house felt like such a "normal" house.
But then there were the special times, when you couldn't help but feel like you were in the presence of greatness. Like when a phone call came in from someone who had dropped his tefillin and he needed to know if he has to fast or give tzeddakah...or when a mother came in with a few little children so they could watch her ask the gadol hador a shaileh about pesach cleaning...and the highlight (for me) - the daily mincha minyan in Rav Scheinberg's house. Since he was already quite elderly and it was hard for him to go out, people came to his house to daven mincha with the Rosh Yeshiva. Can davening mincha with a person this great be described in words? My friend and I got to stay in the kitchen and join the minyan. It was extra special to say the least.
When the time came for me to clean the dining room, I was literally shaking. Some parts weren't as scary because I was further away from where he sat. But when I got closer to him, I felt something that I cannot describe. How do you describe what it feels like to be in such close proximity to someone so great?
I got to his desk. I took a broom and swept around his feet. He lifted his feet up for me so I could get all the crumbs into a pile. He picked up his feet for me? I can't describe the feeling. At some points, I almost felt like he was able to see through me. It's a very scary feeling.
Then I had to clean his desk. It was full of papers and kvitlach and things I was too afraid to touch. I cleaned his phone with trembling hands. I couldn't do more. I gave the job to someone else. She must've been more of a regular in their house because she did it without a problem; she stacked the papers and moved some things around and got the desk done.
I remember the brachos I got from Rav Scheinberg when I was done. He said, "You should get a good shidduch...a good shidduch" (and it came true...a very good shidduch :-) )
What will stay with me most is that feeling of being in the presence of someone so great. If I ever want to picture it, I can just close my eyes and bring myself back to his room, the room where he sat and answered so many phone calls, shailehs, gave advice and brachos...I can transport myself back there and feel what it felt to stand near a gadol...and all it makes me want to do is strive higher and be better than the best I could be.
Baruch dayan ha'emes.