A Talk With The Rosh Yeshiva Harav Ahron Walkin Shlita About His Grandfather, Harav Shmuel Dovid Walkin Ztl

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A Mini-Series on Ahavas Yisroel and Ahavas Chesed

HaRav Aharon Walkin: I once came to my son’s Yeshiva Ketana to discuss tuition. The administrator looked at my son’s paper and remarked, “Walkin?! Growing up, Rav Shmuel Dovid Walkin was a household name...were you by any chance related to him?”

“Yes, he was my grandfather,” I responded. The administrator of my son’s yeshiva then shared with me a telling story:

"My mother escaped with our family and ran away from her country before the Second World War. After arriving in the city of Lukatch, she looked for a place to stay with our family. Naturally she knocked on the Rav’s door. The Rav of this town was your grandfather HaRav Shmuel Dovid Walkin; my mother asked him if she could stay in the Kehilla’s guest house”.

“Your grandfather realized that my mother needed respite from a long and arduous journey fraught with difficulties. He told her that he had a better idea. Rather than stay in the Kehilla guest house, he invited her and her children into his own home. We quickly discovered that the Rav only had a single bedroom, his own.”

“Even though he was in shana rishona (Year 1), your grandfather offered his own bedroom and beds to my mother and her children. He instead would sleep on the living-room floor together with his wife.”

“When my mother saw this, she told him that her family hadn't bathed in a while and were crawling with lice. However he wouldn't budge and insisted on the arrangement.”

“So it was that she slept with the children while your grandfather slept on the floor.”

“My mother and family eventually made their way to America, but we again met hardship. When my mother read in the Jewish newspaper that HaRav Shmuel Dovid Walkin had recently arrived from Shanghai, she decided to call him for help. Your grandfather recorded all our info, were we wanted to live, and even the furniture we needed.”

“A few days later he called my mother back with the news that he found us an apartment. He also informed her that he found a furniture dealer who had odds and ends that weren’t sellable and was therefore willing to donate them.”

“About five or six years after this incident, we contacted the alleged furniture donor regarding repairs. To our surprise we found out that the Rav actually paid for the pieces himself!

After telling me this story, the Yeshiva administrator remarked “now you can understand why Rav Shmuel Dovid Walkin was a revered household name when I grew up”.

HaRav Aharon Walkin: I once met HaRav Yisroel Pirkovsky zt”l. He was one of the Roshei Yeshiva of Beis HaTalmud of Bensonhurst, and he also went through the Mir in Shanghai.

He told me "Your Zeidi’s Chesed and Hachnasat Orchim was from a different level. Astonishingly true even in Shanghai when no one had anything.”

“Your Zeidi didn't just open his home to all who needed, but actually gave away his own bedroom and beds. The Mirrer bachurim always had a home in his tiny apartment during those trying days of WWII.”

Rav Ahron kraiser ztl, a talmid of the Mir, often remarked how the Mirrer bochurim during those dark and difficult days would come to HaRav Shmuel Dovid Walkin for a warm story and a cold drink...

HaRav Aharon Walkin: I once met the Tzadik of Monsey HaRav Mordechai Schwab, zt”l. His family lived in the other half of a partitioned apartment which was split with my grandfather and his family. He too admired the Hachnasat Orchim of my Zeidi in Shanghai and made a point of telling me so.

In wonder I asked him, "How big could this famous apartment be? How did it become a home for so many people?”

Rav Schwab paused and then responded, “Your Zeidi was a genius in Hachnosat Orchim.”

“He knew how to do Hachnosas Orchim the right way. You don't just bring the guest into your home... but more importantly, into your heart... In the heart you will always find room...especially if the heart is big, and your Zeidi had the biggest heart".

 By Adam Suionov