“Blanket of Trust”: Starbucks Chairman’s Thoughts On Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel zt”l


rav-nosson-tzvi-finkelBy Howard Schultz, Chairman, Starbucks

Think about all our experiences every day. How often does anybody honor us as a consumer? Rarely. But when it does happen, the power of the human spirit really does come through. At the end of the day, when business is really good, it’s not about building a brand or making money. That’s a means to an end. It’s about honoring the human spirit, honoring the people who work in the business and honoring the customer.

When I was in Israel, I went to Mea Shearim, the ultra-Orthodox area within Jerusalem. Along with a group of businessmen I was with, I had the opportunity to have an audience with Rabbi [Nosson Tzvi] Finkel, the head of a yeshiva there [Mir Yeshiva]. I had never heard of him and didn’t know anything about him. We went into his study and waited ten to 15 minutes for him. Finally, the doors opened.

What we did not know was that Rabbi Finkel was severely afflicted with Parkinson’s disease. He sat down at the head of the table, and, naturally, our inclination was to look away. We didn’t want to embarrass him.

We were all looking away, and we heard this big bang on the table: “Gentlemen, look at me, and look at me right now.” Now his speech affliction was worse than his physical shaking. It was really hard to listen to him and watch him. He said, “I have only a few minutes for you because I know you’re all busy American businessmen.”

Then he asked, “Who can tell me what the lesson of the Holocaust is?” He called on one guy, who didn’t know what to do-it was like being called on in the fifth grade without the answer. And the guy says something benign like, “We will never, ever forget.” And the rabbi completely dismisses him. I felt terrible for the guy until I realized the rabbi was getting ready to call on someone else. All of us were sort of under the table, looking away – you know, please, not me. He did not call me. I was sweating. He called on another guy, who had such a fantastic answer: “We will never, ever again be a victim or bystander.”

The rabbi said, “You guys just don’t get it. Okay, gentlemen, let me tell you the essence of the human spirit.

“As you know, during the Holocaust, the people were transported in the worst possible, inhumane way by railcar. They thought they were going to a work camp. We all know they were going to a death camp.

“After hours and hours in this inhumane corral with no light, no bathroom, cold, they arrived at the camps. The doors were swung wide open, and they were blinded by the light. Men were separated from women, mothers from daughters, fathers from sons. They went off to the bunkers to sleep.

“As they went into the area to sleep, only one person was given a blanket for every six. The person who received the blanket, when he went to bed, had to decide, ‘Am I going to push the blanket to the five other people who did not get one, or am I going to pull it toward myself to stay warm?'”

And Rabbi Finkel says, “It was during this defining moment that we learned the power of the human spirit, because we pushed the blanket to five others.”

And with that, he stood up and said, “Take your blanket. Take it back to America and push it to five other people.”

{Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Wow. I am crying.

    What a man. He knew how to inspire even assimilated businessmen from America to do the right thing.

    Chaval al deavdin.

  2. Beautiful….thanks for posting.Will use it in my daily life..or at least try to.
    Whatever it is that you have, be it money, a talent, anything….share it…let somebody have joy and be inspired by it…Surely he had it…and spread it about.
    May he be a Malitz Yosher for all of Klal Yisroel. We need advocates in Shumayim…desperately in these trying times.

  3. May the Late Rosh Yeshiva ZT” L,

    be a Maylitz Yosher for all of us.

    And may the Lessons from the blanket of the

    Late Rosh Yeshiva ZT”L, spread to all Jews

    the world over , assimilated and not


    V’shawv V’kibeitzcha Mekol Hawamim etc.

  4. The rest of the story is even more amazing – schultz came back with a blank check for the yeshivah – the rosh yeshiva ztl said to take the check and buy some tefillin to put on every day

  5. Reb Noson Tzvi Zt”l zchuso yagen aleinhu no doubt was applying a shmuz of th Mir Rosh Yeshiva Reb Chaim Shmulevitz. Th gemorah says that in the generation of Reb Yehuad bar rebb Ilai poverty was so great that 6 studnts had to covr themselves with one blanket. Ho could one blanket kep six people warm? re Chaim said that if everyone is worried how will I b warm it can’t. But if each on is worried how will it keepmy friend warm then one blanket can keep even six warm.

  6. Rav Shmuel Berenbaum zt”l was ???? offered a $1,000,000 check for his Mir NY, but he told the donor that “Lakewood needs it more.”
    True gedolim!
    ??? ???? ????

  7. I am trying to be better, indeed!
    All Reb Nosson Tzvi cared about was the Torah AND Yennim! At least one of those attributes, we ALL could emulate!

  8. I remember going to his “American” shiur on fridays w/ bochurim packed in his house like sardines. On on particular Erev Shabbos he broke down crying as he “didn’t feel well” and he missed 2 minutes of learning b/c of his physical afflictions. His tears were sincere and moving. I remember thinking to myself -did I learn 2 minutes that week???? He was inspirational. I met with him 2 weeks ago with my 9 year old son and he to was inspired…..L’dor V’dor we will remember him a a kind saint who loved 3x Yisroel 1. Eretz Yisroel 2. Toras Yisroel 3. Am Yisroel. He will be sorely missed.

  9. 18 – The message is that it is a Yid’s responsibility to care for each other more than our selfish self’s !!! And we can sure be selfish. I was davening to win the big lotto last week so I could give it all away to Yeshivos, Masbia and other Yiddish Charities. I said HKBH if you want me to do it I will win. He could if he wanted to, but in retrospect that would be too easy. Perhaps HKBH want’s us to do it ourselves.

  10. Hashem has taken so many holy tzadikim, Z’T’L, and leaving us more alone; we have fewer and fewer to lean on or to rely on, but only on our Father in Heaven. These are the days before Moshiach – soon, soon!

  11. Don’t let the Rosh Yeshiva’s Mesiras Nefesh go to waste. Help us support the Mir. We NEED your help more then ever now. ANY AMOUNT! Help us here, because I guarantee you the Rosh Yeshivah is pleading before the Kisay Hachovad right now for our yeshuos and refuois. The Rebono Shel Olam wants to see how we react to such a devastating loss.
    Yeshivas Mir Yerushalayim
    5227 New Utrecht Avenue
    Brooklyn NY 11219


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