A Holy Man; A Holy Nation


rav-simcha-bunim-cohenBy S. Friedman

For this column I am simply retelling an incredible story that I was zoche to hear from Rav Simcha Bunim Cohen shlit”a, rov of Khal Ateres Yeshaya in Lakewood, during his morning Breakfast & Learn shiur.  Rav Cohen had himself read the story, written by Sara Yoheved Rigler, in Binah Magazine, and he felt he needed to share it with the shiur, so that we could be as strongly moved as he was.

Mrs. Rigler wrote a book approximately 3 years ago about Rebbetzin Chaya Sara Kramer titled Holy Woman.  The book tells the story of Rebbetzin Kramer’s extraordinary life, and how Rebbetzin Kramer, along with her husband, Rabbi Yaakov Moshe Kramer, influenced countless people for the better.  After the publishing of this book, there lies an incredible epilogue.

Rebbetzin Kramer made it to Eretz Yisroel after experiencing excruciating horrors during the Holocaust. Her shidduch to R’ Yaakov Moshe was arranged by no less a personage than the Satmar Rebbe zy”a.  Rebbetzin Kramer had been single before the war, whereas R’ Yaakov Moshe had been married previously; his first wife was mercilessly murdered by the Nazis, ym'”sh

After settling down, the Kramers graciously brought many people of all walks of life into their home and provided for all of their needs.  They were not blessed with children of their own, yet there are hundreds of profoundly touched individuals who consider themselves “children” of the Kramers.  It is a testament to their supreme ahavas habriyos that they lovingly gave so much of themselves while they struggled with the never-ending pain of not having torchbearers to pass on their wonderful ideals.

For R’ Yaakov Moshe, the pain was even more acute.  A Yid from Bnei Brak who had read Holy Woman in its Hebrew version recently called Mrs. Rigler and revealed to her the following.

This man had been with R’ Yaakov Moshe on an airplane many years ago and realized that he was an inimitably spiritual person.  He began to “refer” people to R’ Yaakov Moshe for brachos and advice and developed a close relationship with him.  His call to Mrs. Rigler was paid to clarify what he felt was an inaccuracy in her book.

In the book, Mrs. Rigler related the circumstances of how R’ Yaakov Moshe’s first wife had been killed.  She had been on line for the notorious “selectzia” with a baby, her niece, in her arms. The vile Nazi pointed her and the child to the left, to never be heard from again.

It was indeed true that R’ Yaakov Moshe tragically lost his first wife during the War.  But it wasn’t his “niece” in her arms.  It was his very own child who had been lost.  Despite the difficulty of not having children together, R’ Yaakov Moshe kept this piercing secret to himself for the entire 44 years of his marriage to Rebbetzin Kramer!  He did not want to chas vesholom cause her to blame herself and thereby magnify the agony and guilt already in her wounded heart.

Rav Cohen added the following:  How many times are we quick to say a sharp comment to our spouse, or to throw blame at each other?  This otherworldly man kept what was the biggest tzaar of his life bottled up inside so that there should not be even a chance for his wife to think that their situation was somehow “her fault.”  

Concluding, Rav Cohen said that as we approach the Yom Tov of Shavuos, we should realize that Hakadosh Boruch Hu did not merely choose Klal Yisroel to receive His most precious gift because there were no other takers.  He chose us because we are truly a special people.

This article was written with permission from Sara Yoheved Rigler.

{S. Friedman-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. I am gratified that Rabbi Cohen chose to relate this story. Rabbi Cohen is also a holy man who brings many people closer to Heaven.

  2. Rabbi Cohen shlit”a is amazing. Only he can openly say to his shuir that he read an article in Binah and got hisorerus. (the chidush is that he reads Binah, not that he got hisorerus)

  3. #3, neither of them are currently living and in Olam Ha’emes, they both know the facts. The question is, if Rabbi Kramer kept this such a total secret lest his wife find out (and apparently she did not until and including her dying day), how did this man come to know it?


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