Eight Thoughts and Sayings of Rav Hutner zt”l

By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5tjt.com

Rav Yitzchok Hutner zt”l (1904-1980) was a talmid of the Alter (Elder) of Slabodka, who emphasized Gadlus HaAdam (Greatness of Man) – in dealing with all people.  Rav Hutner became the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Chaim Berlin and helped mold and shape thousands of talmidim and talmidim of talmidim.

  1. Loving Hashem, and loving people are one and the same. One cannot have love of Hashem without loving people.  And one cannot truly love people without also loving Hashem.
  2. It is a grave error that when we discuss the greatness of gedolim (leading sages), we deal only with the end product. We discuss their complete perfection, omitting all mention of the inner battles which they overcame yet raged within them. The impression one gets is that they were created in full perfection. [PY Igros V’ksavim #128]
  3. Shlomo HaMelech said, (Mishlei (Proverbs) 24:16), “The tzaddik will fall seven times and will rise.” The simple person thinks he meant, “Even though a tzaddik falls seven times, he will still rise.” A smart person, however, knows that he meant, “Because a tzaddik fell seven times, that is why he ultimately rose.” [ibid]
  4. There is a very special type of Ahavah (love) that is unique that we must have for all geirim (converts to Judaism).
  5. When calling in a high school bochur (unmarried, young man) from a very chashuva mishpacha (great family of Torah scholars) who started becoming involved in girls, Rav Hutner did not call him out directly on it. Instead, he questioned the young man on the Mesechta (tractate) he was learning, Bava Metziah. He then on last year’s Mesechta, Bava Kamma.  He then said, “I see that you are holding very well, k’nayna horah (without an evil eye) on seder Nezikin (in the Order of Damages)!  Why, then, pray tell, are you being oisek (involving yourself) in seder Nashim (in the Order dealing with women and marriage)?”  The bochur got the message right away and immersed himself in learning, stopping other extra-curricular activities. [Heard by YH from the bochur].
  6. Once in a discussion with Reb Pinchas Pele, Reb Pinchas said, for Eretz Yisroel – the hanhaggah (conduct) should be like this, but for the golus (exile), here in Brooklyn, the hanhaggah (conduct) should be like that. Rav Hutner responded, “No Reb Pinchas, when there is yet a structure on the makom beis habechirah (When the Temple is not yet rebuilt) – there is no greater reminder of the galus than that.  The hanhagah (conduct in Israel) should be the same as here in Brooklyn.”
  7. For some Talmidim he told them not to attend college – even if their parents wished them to do so. For other Talmidim he told them bedavkah (specifically) to attend college.  When questioned what was the criterion that he used to determine who he told what he responded, “I look at them in the future and ask if they will ever possibly have charata (regret) that they did not attend college.  If they possibly will have charatah (regret) – then they can chalilah (G-d forbid) become sonei hadas (rebellious and veer away from Torah) – and I tell them that they should go.”  [Heard from a close talmid]
  8. After setting up a bochur (single, young man) on a shidduch (date with a girl), the bochur did not wish to date a second time, and was hemming and hawing as to the reason. Rav Hutner was very intuitive and figured it out saying, “I see. She did not have enough sheker and she also was lacking in Hevel.” (Toward the end of Eishis Chayil, written by Shlomo HaMelech, it says: Sheker HaChein, V’Hevel HaYofi, Isha Yiras Hashem Hi Tishallel. Translated: False is charm and vain is beauty, but a woman who is G-d fearing should be praised.) When the Rosh Yeshiva said “I see. She did not have enough sheker and she also was lacking in Hevel” he meant, I see. She wasn’t charming and beautiful enough for you! (Not meant to be a compliment to the young man, who instead should have been searching for a girl who was more G-d fearing.) [Heard from a talmid].
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Eight Thoughts and Sayings of Rav Hutner zt”l 1

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