The chessed of R’ Bentzion Pil didn’t only express itself in the monetary chessed which he performed, but in other ways as well.
There was a time when R’ Bentzion Shemtov was in the city of Charkov, and he found out that the Russian communist police were looking for him to arrest him for ‘counter-revolutionary activities’ – practicing Judaism. He immediately began seeking a place of shelter from the police. Not many were prepared to risk their lives to shelter a wanted man, and ultimately it was R’ Bentzion Pil who agreed to house R’ B. Shemtov during that time period.
It didn’t take long and R’ B. Shemtov realized that he would not be able stay in that city for too much longer, and he decided to leave the city. Because he feared going in the streets alone he asked his host to please find a trustworthy person who can accompany him to the train station. R’ B. Pil asked several people, and even though he offered a lot of money to accompany R’ B. Shemtov to the train, everyone refused. They said, “What will the money be worth if we are caught together with R’ B. Shemtov and are separated from our families for life?”
A few days later R’ B. Shemtov asked his host if he had succeeded in finding someone to accompany him to the train. R’ B. Pil had to be honest, and he said, “Everyone is afraid to undertake such job. But,” continued R’ B. Pil, “Fear not; if I don’t find anyone, then I will take you!”
Realizing the tremendous danger that R’ B. Shemtov was in, R’ B. Pil decided to endanger himself to get his guest to the train and out of the city as soon as possible. He first dressed R’ B. Shemtov in a heavy woman’s winter coat with a big fur collar (as it was then midwinter), and further wrapped his neck with a woman’s cotton scarf to hide his beard, and walked him arm in arm, as if he was walking his elderly mother…
They reached the station safely, and R’ B. Pil bought tickets for R’ B. Shemtov, accompanied him onto the train, and waited until the third blow of the horn and when the train started moving slowly, only the did R’ B. Pil part from his guest and jump off the train onto the platform.
Seconds later R’ B. Pil was approached by two gentlemen dressed in civilian clothes and asked if he saw someone by the name of R’ Bentzion Shemtov who was supposed to be traveling at this time – the question was posed in Yiddish. R’ B. Pil looked at them in wonder and simply told them that he never heard of someone like that. They then continued to search for him on the platform.
Such was the ahavas yisroel and chessed of R’ Bentzion Pil, that he was prepared to endanger his own life, in order to hopefully make life for someone else easier and maybe even save him.
To order the book Samarkand please contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org