Matching family tree profiles for R' Moshe Charif Bochner of Olkusz
About R' Moshe Charif Bochner of Olkusz
Shlomo's father was Reb Moshe Charif, one of the last members of the Council of the Four Lands. His name itself ("charif" means someone with a sharp mind) bears witness to his greatness in Torah. As a member of the Council of the Four Lands, which met at the major fairs at set times, he played a considerable role in regulating the religious and social life of the Jews in Poland, Lithuania, and other areas.
Little is known about Reb Moshe Charif's activities or his influence, because he was an extremely humble man all his life. He sought no publicity while he was alive, nor did he leave behind any writings that might have cast more light on his life and works. His most characteristic traits were modesty and simplicity. He didn't want to turn the Torah into a source of income. His son inherited these qualities from him.
While still a boy of eight or nine years, Reb Shloymele (Moshe's son) was noted for his diligence and his straightforward approach to study. An enemy of artificial disputation, he always sought the clearest and simplest interpretations, rather than the twisted, uncertain strategies of interpretation that did so much harm to the minds of the yeshiva students and those who sat in the study houses at the time.
It is said that one time his father, Reb Moshe Charif, attended a very long session of the Council of the Four Lands at a fair in a large city in Poland. The session dragged on because the leading scholars present got involved in a dispute concerning a certain point in the Talmud. They couldn't determine the plain sense of the text, and eventually Reb Moshe Charif called out to them: "You know what, gentlemen? I have a nine-year-old son at home in Olkusz. With his brilliant mind, he'll get us out of this confusion." They immediately decided to hire the swiftest pair of horses, so that Reb Moyshe could ride home to Olkusz to ask the boy what the proper meaning of the text was, and all the scholars stayed at the fair to wait for the answer.
Arriving home at Olkusz in the middle of the night, Reb Moshe immediately woke up his Shloymele, who was sound asleep near the warm oven. After the boy had washed his hands and rubbed his sleepy eyes, his father opened up the Talmud to the correct page, and asked the boy to explain the passage which had so confused the members of the Council. The boy scanned the entire page of the Talmud, and opened his eyes wide, as if to ask his father, "What's so hard to understand here?"
At that, his father rewarded him with a resounding slap and angrily said to his son: "Several luminaries of the Torah are sitting at the fair struggling to understand such a complicated topic, and for you there's no difficulty whatsoever?"
The nine-year-old boy replied: "You see, Father, it would indeed be a difficult question, unless you remember what the Talmud said four pages earlier. If you compare the two, you will see that the meaning is clear and simple, and there's no need to apply fancy interpretations to it."
His father, abashed, kissed his child on the forehead and said, "May his kind multiply in Israel."