100th Yahrzeit of R’ Hayyim Soloveitchik
A musing shared by his grandson – it is healthy reading, especially for those of us who take ourselves too seriously:
Finally, R’ Hayyim came. R’ Hayyim was just the opposite of his father. He was a democrat from head to toe, a real plebian. He was gregarious, fond of all people, be they intelligent, dull, sluggish, rich, poor, observant or non-observant; he particularly loved children. The great R’ Hayyim could communicate with children in a way which only a mother can. At times R’ Hayyim used to play games with them. Once he came out of his house and found a group of children waiting for him. “What do you want?” He asked the youngsters. “We would like to play horses”. He said, “so why don’t you play?” “No one wants to be the horse everybody wants to be the rider”. So R’ Hayyim said, “I don’t mind being the horse.” Immediately, R’ Hayyim was roped and little children pulled the rope and encouraged the horse to move on. Later, the children got tired and hungry. They told R’ Hayyim that they would tie him to a tree while they went home to get a snack. They went home and forgot about R’ Hayyim tied to the tree. All this happened in front of the shul. The gabbai said he would take a knife and cut the ropes, but R’ Hayyim refused since he did not want to disappoint the children. He insisted that the gabbai bring the children to untie him. The Brisker Jews appreciated this; he was not fired from his position on account of it. On the contrary, they liked the humility and modesty on the part of the greatest intellect among the rabbis of his time.
Halakhic Morality Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik page 203