Tonight marks the eighty-eighth yahrzeit of R. Chaim HaLevi Soloveitchik זצללה"ה, better known as Reb Chaim Brisker, who lived from 1853-1918. Without a doubt, he was one of the greatest scholars and leaders ever to have graced the Jewish People. The impact of his revolutionary method of Talmudic analysis on traditional Torah Study (lehrnen), while universally acknowledged, is only now being fully appreciated. (The Rov זצ"ל describes it, and its impact, here.)
Since the Rov זצ"ל was my rebbe muvhaq (and, in a deeper sense, the only rebbe I ever had), Reb Chaim was always I tangible presence in my life. As his grandson later observed, and as far as I am concerned, without his insights (even in a modified form) it is impossible to learn Gemora. (As you know, I'm not a fan of שיטת הרבדים in the context of מצוות תלמוד תורה.)
There are, however, other sides of Reb Chaim that are no less stunning than his truly massive intellect and breath-taking creativity and passion for learning and for truth. The Rov used to emphasize Reb Chaim's humanity, his great sensitivity, and his unparalleled moral greatness. In that connection, I recall that in a Motzai Shabbat shiur in Boston (in the mid-1970's) he quoted Dr. Yaakov Gromer, who had been a talmid of Reb Chaim and later worked with Albert Einstein. The Rov recounted that Gromer had once told him that while Einstein was often held up as a paragon of morality, he did not measure up to the moral greatness of Reb Chaim. Reb Chaim, he said, was a moral giant.
Intellect, is not enough to be a Gadol ba-Torah. One must strive to be compassionate, to transcend one's own kavod, to intuitively know the right thing to do, to be מחמיר in פיקוח נפש. Before leaving for his first position as the rabbi of Rasseyn, Reb Chaim told his son Reb Moshe זצ"ל, that one of the chief tasks of the Rov is to do חסד. Indeed, again according to the Rov, Reb Chaim's original tombstone bore the simple legend 'רב חסד.' (That is not the case with the current מצבה.)