We live in a word where we are told if someone can throw a ball a certain way or if they look a certain way, they are heroes and should be emulated. I think it is important to distinguish between being talented/good looking and being a hero. Not everyone that was born with G-d given talent should be called a hero simply because of their achievements.
My hero is not someone who has a flashy title. He did not make a lot of money in his lifetime. He was not the guy who threw a buzzer beater from the three point line to win the NBA Championship. He is not the hockey player from Brantford, Ontario who began ice skating at the age of two and went on to be known in the world of hockey as The Great One. (Although, I have to admit that I think Wayne Gretzky is pretty cool.)
My hero is not the guy who wins the hot dog eating contest on Coney Island in Brooklyn every year and still weighs about 130 pounds.
So who you may ask is my hero?
My hero was a man who believed that when Rabbi Akiva said “Love Your Friend as yourself is a Great Rule in the Torah ", and is not just empty rhetoric.
My hero was a great Torah scholar who loved all Jews unconditionally regardless of their affiliation or observance.
My hero was a man who refused to be dragged into the infighting of various camp within Judaism. On Rosh Hashanah we would pray in different shuls to show that he above the barriers that we sometime place among ourselves.
My hero was a man who accompanied his wife to the doctor because she was not well. When inquired by the doctor as to the reason their visit, He replied Our Leg is not feeling well.
My hero was a man who at a young age who made a vow always to judge people favorably and did so in the most trying circumstance for the rest of his life.
My hero was a man who greatly empathized with the pain of others. Upon hearing of the tragic news of a soldier from the IDF who had passed away, he would rush to the family and comfort the bereaved.
My hero was a man who always worked hard on restoring harmony between couples that were living in turmoil.
My hero was a man who transcended the pettiness we find in society and refused to believe that he can't be a force of good that could change the world for the better.
My hero was a man who was so humble that he refused to have any eulogies at his funeral or words of praise on his monument.
My hero was a man who always visited Jewish prisoners during the British mandate and gave them encouragement hope and inspiration. He did this after no rabbi was willing to give up his Shabbos rest to go every single Shabbos and Jewish Holiday to say the prayers and read Torah to them. He would then walk tens of miles around Jerusalem bringing personal regard to their families who were concerned about their welfare.
My hero was a man who at his funeral had tens of thousands of people coming to pay their final respects and included the president, prime minister and cabinet ministers of Israel along with distinguished Chassidic rabbis and venerable deans of the leading yeshivas. They stood next to many officers of the Israel Defense Forces and former underground fighters who acknowledged him as their rabbi.
My hero is the man Menachem Begin described this way: This man appears and you watch his actions carefully and you are enchanted. You listen to his words and they touch your heart. You look at his eyes and they are clear and pure. You say in your heart: This man is a tzaddik (righteous).
My hero is Rabbi Aryeh Levin who passed away in 1968. He lived in a small apartment in Jerusalem. He wrote no essays. He gave no sermons or addresses before an audience of thousands. He never spoke at mass gatherings or let his voice travel on the airwaves of the radio or television. Yet his influence spread far and wide with people coming to seek warmth and encouragement.
Rabbi Aryeh Levin was an outstanding individual because always sought to bring out the best in people.
He is my hero. Who is your hero ?
Please share your thoughts.