Moshe Rabbeinu asked that Hashem dwell amidst the Jews, a Hashra'as HaShechina unique among the nations of the Earth. Sometimes we wonder about Hashem's relationship with us. Our endless experience of being despised and hounded can become tiresome. So it's nice to hear stories about the Gedolim, such as the story I heard this morning about Rav Eliashiv.
Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein just put out another two volume eight hundred page sefer, in Hilchos Pesach, but one of the volumes, while nominally on the Hagada, is mostly stories. This is a story about his brother-in-law, Reb Chaim Kanievsky, and their father-in-law, Rav Eliashiv Zatzal. When Rav Zilberstein tells a story about his father-in-law and brother-in-law, you can take it to the bank.
A couple had been married for fifteen years, and they remained childless. Finally, agonizingly, and with many tears, they decided they would have to divorce, hoping that perhaps if they married others, at least one of them might have a child.
Two months after the divorce, they found out that she was pregnant.
The man was a kohen.
He came to Reb Chaim Kanievsky, and cried his heart out, and Reb Chaim told him there was nothing he could do for him; the halacha was cut and dried. He is a kohen, and he could not marry a woman that had been divorced, even if he himself was the one that had divorced her. But, he said, go to my father in law, go to Rav Eliashiv, see what he will say to you.
So the man, with his heart in his throat, went to Rav Eliashiv and told him his story. Rav Eliashiv told him that the halacha is clear, and there was nothing he could do for him, and he advised him to do two things. He should remind himself of the story of the Asara Harugei Malchus, the story of the ten great and holy martyrs, and remember that Hashem's gzeiros are impossible for man to understand, and he should accept the gzeira with faith and love of Hashem. Also, he said, go to the Kosel and cry your heart out to the Ribono shel Olam. The man began crying, but accepted what he had been told, and left. As he was leaving, in total despair, he was thinking to himself that there was no reason to go to the Kosel. What's finished is finished, he had to accept the din of the dayan ha'emes, and that was it. But, he decided, Rav Eliashiv said go, so I'll go.
And he went, and he came close to the kosel, and he began saying Tehillim, and he cried, he cried for what he had lost, he cried for the loss of his beloved ex-wife, and for the loss of a normal relationship with his long prayed for child, and he cried for finding out that his dream of having a child had come true at precisely a time when he had just thrown away what the dream could have meant to him.
A man, a stranger, came over to him, and tapped him on the shoulder, and said, I see you are suffering, that you're in a lot of pain. I wish there were something I could do to help. But if you can, I suggest that you go and talk to your father, and discuss your problems with him. Sometimes that helps. The man thanked him for his concern, and ignored him, and continued davenning.
A few minutes later, the same man came over, and said, again, I really think it would be a good idea. Go and talk to your father.
The man went home, and thought to himself, what do I have to lose. Rav Eliashiv told me to go to the Kosel, this guy comes over and tells me to go and talk to my father, my father's old, maybe I should go. So he bought a ticket to go to the US to visit his father, who was in a nursing home.
He came to the nursing home, and the nurses told him that his father had deteriorated pretty badly, and hadn't said a word in a week.
He sat down with his silent father, and he poured his heart out to him, and told him the whole bitterly ironic story. His father began talking, and said, I have something to tell you. Your mother and I had decided never to tell you this, but you were adopted as an infant. Your birth father was not a kohen. You are a Yisrael.