In the previous Halacha, we have explained that the Torah commands us that when one sees a fellow Jew in trouble, one must come to his aid in any way possible. We see how much the Torah obligates one to be sensitive to one’s surroundings and not remain indifferent to another person’s distress.
The Sefer Kinyan Ha’Torah Shel Maran (page 128, authored by Maran zt”l’s grandson, Hagaon Harav Ovadia Yosef Toledano Shlit”a) quotes a story related to this matter recounted by an older student of Maran zt”l (in the year 5720/1960) who was a G-d-fearing man who worked in a small shop to earn a living and would regularly participate in classes delivered by Maran zt”l.
This student related the following story: “One evening, Maran concluded the class he was giving the “Shaul Tzadka” synagogue in the Bet Yisrael neighborhood of Jerusalem. The synagogue had two entrances and Maran would usually exit from the one facing Reichman Street. However, that night, he exited from the other side, the one facing my house. Maran then put his hand on my shoulder and asked, ‘Meir, how are you?’ I replied, ‘Baruch Hashem, all is well.’ Maran continued probing, ‘But how are things at home?’ I sighed and replied, ‘Baruch Hashem, all is well.’ Maran did not let me go that easily, ‘I can tell that for the past week, you do not seem happy. I told a story today, everyone laughed and you did not even crack a smile.’”
“I was stunned how Maran paid attention to me, how he was able to feel me out individually among the many people who attended the class. I then poured out my heart to him and said, ‘Rebbi, what can I tell you? I have not had much of a life for the past six months since my wife has given birth. Unfortunately, she has not gotten back to herself; she is always upset and crying and I do not know what is wrong with her. As much as I try to cheer her up, nothing helps. I am broken already and I have no more strength to continue.’”
“Maran heard this and was visibly upset. Suddenly, I realized that I had taken the Rav completely out of his way. I stopped and turned to him, ‘Rebbi, please forgive me. I have taken the Rav out of his way. Let us turn around and walk the other way. Maran replied, ‘No, no, it’s fine,’ and he kept walking with me until we were close to my home on Rabbeinu Gershom Street. I could already see the windows of my home which were on the street level. We stopped for a moment and Maran turned to me and asked, ‘Meir, is your wife home now?’ I was stunned by the question but answered, ‘Yes, she is.’ Maran asked, ‘May I come in to bless her?’ I became so excited by the prospect because I would never have dreamt that I would have the merit that Maran would come to my house to bless my wife. I immediately entered the home and told my wife that Maran had come to bless her.”
“We will never forget those moments. We were so emotional. Maran asked us some questions in matters of Halacha which can cause fear and other bad emotions to befall those who are not careful about them. He asked my wife if she covered her hair, if she was careful about performing Netilat Yadayim immediately upon waking up in the morning, and some other things. He asked her to please be careful about these things. He then placed his hand in the air above her head and for an entire minute, he proceeded to recite all kinds of verses against fear and he proceeded to bless her. He concluded by saying, ‘With Hashem’s help, you will merit a speedy recovery.’ He then left the house.”
“Besides for Maran’s blessing coming to fruition, Baruch Hashem, I was so moved by his genuine love of another Jew by him feeling my pain, although I was only one out of a thousand.”