My father, Alex Stroli told me a story about his own life. After the war, his family moved to Israel for a time. All the boys in his Yeshiva had long payes (earlocks). My father had short payes to the ears—our family believes in moderation. The other kids taunted him because of this. (He was around 8.)
One day the Satmar Rebbe paid a visit to the school. The Yeshiva brought the boys with the longest payes to sit next to the Rebbe at the table to be tested (to impress him with their knowledge). They sat my father at the end. The Rebbe looked around the table and pointed his finger towards my father. “Bring him to the front,” said the Rebbe. He then proceeded to test my father. Chumash, Rashi, Talmud, Tosfos. What my father couldn’t read he recited from memory of what the teacher had said.
Finally the Rebbe stopped asking questions. “Who is your father?” he asked my father. “Shmuel Volf Stroli?” (z”l). “Yes.” “He got smicha from the Sharmasher Rebbe.” (z”l) “Yes.” “You are a good boy,” said the Rebbe. Suddenly my dad was the most popular boy in the class. (I am laughing right now at my father’s grin as he remembered this.)
At the end of the tale my father said to me, “Never go by appearance. What matters is observance.”
By Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal (Dossy). All opinions are the author’s own. Public domain.