R. Joseph Wanefsky z"l:
Profiling a Person Who Dealt With Difficulty

How does a person lead a productive life even when blindness overtakes him in his early years? This portrait of a remarkable individual offers insight into this question. Rabbi Wanefsky eschewed the unearned utterance of "Barukh Hashem" that fails to truly address the trials and frustrations of a serious illness. At the same time, he did not lapse into an ongoing resentful perspective towards his Maker that prevents the sufferer from achievements and accomplishments. In Rabbi Wanefskyís life a due appreciation for his plight coexisted with a sense of mission and the ability to enjoy life. As Rabbi Carmy writes: "Schooled in adversity, he conceived of life as a challenge and an opportunity, a long trial and an intense joy."

Rabbi Wanefsky learned in Chaim Berlin before receiving semikhah and a doctorate at Yeshiva University. Despite losing his vision in early manhood, he became a fixture on the fifth floor of the YU library, where students availed themselves of his sharp wit and immense knowledge.

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Jewish Action (Fall 2000). (© Orthodox Union, with permission.)

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