Rav Sholom Mordechai Schwadron zt”l,

A non-observant woman once confronted R’ Sholom Schwadron zt”l, the renowned Maggid of Jerusalem and complained loudly and irreverently. “The Rav has agreed to give me a blessing, and I am well aware that one who blesses another person, places a hand on the head of the one being blessed. Why won’t the Rav place his hand on my head?”

R’ Sholom smiled, and answered at once, “Have you ever made the blessing on the Shabbos candles?”

The woman did not miss a beat. “Absolutely, yes! On Yom Kippur eve, I lit candles and even said the blessing,” the woman responded in a measured tone.

“Okay,” said R’ Sholom. “When you said the blessing, did you lay your hands on the fire?”

For R’ Sholom, something forbidden is likened to fire! One does not rest his hand on fire! The reply was not merely the fruit of R’ Sholom’s sharp mind, but also of his heart – a heart that burned with piety and fear of Heaven. The moment he was asked why he would not place his hand on a woman’s head, he saw a consuming fire rise up before his eyes!

By Yahrtzeit on 22 Kislev