The most amazing silence


The following remarkable story is told of R’ Shabsai Frankel. R’ Frankel was a Holocuast survivor who moved to America and made it his mission in life to provide clarity on key Torah texts to the Jewish People. Thus, he invested a significant sum of money employing a team of Torah scholars who would research and examine the works of the Rambam. This team would examine, compare and cross-reference different versions of the Rambam’s works – making sure the end product was the most accurate available, and providing extra sources for further research. Today, the set they published is known colloquially as the Frankel Rambam and is a celebrated monumental contribution to the yeshiva world – thousands of copies of the Frankel Rambam can be found in yeshivas, shuls and study halls around the world. Given that R’ Frankel was a collector of the Rambam’s works, the Cairo Genizah contacted R’ Frankel notifying him that there was a rare hand-written section of the Rambam for sale if he was willing to purchase it. Agreeing on a price into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, a sale was agreed, and the rare old manuscript was sent to R’ Frankel in America. It was preserved in casing, and when it arrived in R’ Frankel’s office, R’ Frankel gently took it out of the casing for his researchers to look at one-by-one. Each marvelled at the new manuscript, eagerly looking forward to inspecting it at greater length. However, a tragedy unfolded. As one of the researchers was making his was across the room to view the manuscript, he tripped. Ordinarily that would have been fine, but he was holding a cup of coffee at the time, and the coffee spilled all over the new manuscript! The manuscript virtually disintegrated – it was now completely useless! R’ Frankel calmly left the room, and said nothing. He returned a minute later holding a cup of coffee and said to the embarrassed researcher I noticed you spilled your coffee – here is another one. Years later, R’ Frankel passed away, and his team paid their respects at the shiva. The researcher who spilled the coffee told the story to the grieving family, and nobody had heard of it. Not only did R’ Frankel have the self-control not to snap at this researcher at the time, but he restrained himself from ever telling anyone what had happened – he even hid it from his family.


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