In the early years of his marriage, the famed Rabbi Yoshe Ber Soloveitchik lived in the home of his chassidic father-in-law, Rabbi Yitzchak Efron, in Volozhin. One time, his infant son Chaim (who was later to become the renowned Rabbi Chaim Brisker) became critically ill. The doctors were powerless.

The doctors were powerless.

The chassidic rebbe Rabbi Moshe of Kobrin, who always stayed at the Efron home when he visited Volozhin, happened to come to town just then. Despite the crisis in Rabbi Yitzchak’s house, the tzaddik followed the advice of our sages and did not change his lodgings (see Gen. 13:3 and commentary).

Not only did he lodge at the Efrons’, but when he heard about the sick child, he even requested that the table be set for a meal! Everyone was astonished, but Rabbi Yitzchak, who trusted the tzaddik, did as bidden.

At the meal, the Kobriner said: “We learn in the Talmud, in tractate Bava Basra, that a precious jewel hung from the neck of our Patriarch Abraham. Any ill person who gazed at it was immediately cured.

“What was this precious jewel?” he asked.

“What was this precious jewel?” he asked. He then went on to answer his own question. “The precious jewel of Abraham was the trait that he exemplified—kindness to others—as manifested in his boundless hospitality. This is the ‘jewel’ that hung from his neck.

“When Abraham died, the Almighty hung it from the sun, the sphere that shines everywhere in the world. Whenever a Jew practices hospitality, the merit of G‑d’s beloved Abraham assists in healing the patient through this jewel.

“Therefore, in the merit of our Reb Yitzchak’s hospitality at this very moment, his grandson Chaim’l should be cured speedily. Let the child focus his eyes upon the jewel, and he will be healed.”

And so it happened.

Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from the Chazon newsletter (, whose source is Giants of Jewry by Aharon Surasky.

Biographical notes:
Rabbi Moshe Pallier of Kobrin [1784–29 Nisan 1858] was a close follower of R. Mordechai of Lechovitch, and afterwards of his son R. Noach. In 1833 he became the first rebbe of the Kobrin dynasty, with thousands of chassidim, many of who subsequently moved to the Land of Israel. His teachings are collected in Imros Taharos.

Rabbi Yosef DovBer HaLevi Soloveitchik (1820–1892) was the great-grandson of Rabbi Chaim Itzkowitz of Volozhin, the main student of the Vilna Gaon and the progenitor of the Lithuanian yeshivah movement. He was an influential teacher in the famed yeshivah of Volozhin, and subsequently the chief rabbi and rosh yeshivah of Brisk. He is often referred to as “the Beis HaLevi,” after his important books of Torah thought and responsa.

Rabbi Chaim HaLevi Soloveitchik (1853–21 Av 1918) also lectured in the Volozhin yeshivah for many years. In 1892 he succeeded his father as chief rabbi and rosh yeshivah of Brisk. His analytical methodology revolutionized the in-depth study of Talmud until this day.

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