My Turn to Write
by Zev Roth
My first one on one encounters with R. Chaim Malinowitz ZT’l was when I briefly edited the shul’s weekly bulletin. I called the Rav with a shailah how we should round off the davening times.
After a few moments, it dawned on him who he was talking to.
“Wait, are you the same Zev Roth who writes those books?”
“Yes, that’s me,” I told him.
Without missing a beat, he replied, “Nu, when’ the next one coming out?”
I went on to explain I had basically taken a break from the world of Jewish publishing. Writing true stories often involves tracking down who the story happened to, interviewing them, writing up a draft, have them tell you how you got it all wrong, then rewrite it, only to have them tell you right before publication to please not include it at all. I’ve been condemned, threatened with lawsuits, and been subject at times to abusive language. Then, after finally putting a decent work together, only to have it rejected by publishers and the only ones who agree to publish it come with a minor stipulation: Not wanting to take the risk, they demand you come up with all the money to cover the printing and editing costs.
For the next few months, the Rav dropped not so subtle hints, in a friendly but not nudnick fashion, that basically gave me the message that I had a talent that Klal Yisroel needs, and should seriously consider writing another book. The clincher for me came one winter at the twice monthly Friday night Q&A oneg Shabbos with the Rav, when at one point he announced to the crowd, “I have a question for you. When will the next Zev Roth book come out?”
The Rav made me realize it was my turn to write, and I began collecting and organizing true stories, and whenever the Rav told a story over in his Shabbos D’rush, I asked him for the source and if I could possibly print it. Experience has taught me this request is frequently ignored, yet the Rav always answered me right away. Most of his stories didn’t make the tough cut, but one actually did make it into the final volume. The Rav also was helpful in editing and making corrections to that story, as well as assuring me the other Malinowitz family members in the story were fine with its publication.
“SeeSaw: A Collection of True Uplifting Stories” was published by Feldheim right before Succos in 2017. The Rav insisted I get him a copy before Succos began, “It will make my Yom Tov,” he told me. I wrote a nice dedication to the Rav for his gentle reminders and many ways making this book possible.
He later told me how much he enjoyed the book, and was shocked a month later when he insisted on paying for it.
My only regret is I neglected to put his name in the “special thanks” section of the book. Perhaps this note of appreciation can make up for it somewhat.