Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

4 Teves 5762 - December 19, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











R' Chaim Halevi Soloveitchik, zt"l
by Betzalel Kahn

On motzei Shabbos 24 Kislev at chatzos, a large throng accompanied R' Chaim Halevi Soloveitchik, zt"l, son of the Brisker Rov, ztv"l on his last earthly journey. Eighty-three years old at the time of his petiroh, the niftar suffered for many years with illness.

HaRav Chaim Halevi Soloveitchik was born in Brisk. He was named after his grandfather, Rabbenu Chaim of Brisk, as well as after HaRav Chaim of Volozhin. He received his chinuch from his father and absorbed the ways of Torah and yir'oh at home. For a short while, he studied in his father's yeshiva in Brisk. He later studied in the Kaminetz Yeshiva, where he was beloved by the rosh yeshiva, HaRav Boruch Ber Lebowitz.

While in Kaminetz he spent a Rosh Hashanah night at the home of HaRav Lebowitz along with one of his brothers. The Rosh Yeshiva recounted many stories about gedolei Yisroel of the past generation. At a certain point, the rebbetzin entered the room and asked if there wasn't anything better to do on Rosh Hashanah night than to tell stories. To this HaRav Boruch Ber replied: "I know what I am doing," meaning that by telling such stories, he was showing affection for a student who was one of the greatest lamdonim and shakdonim in the yeshiva.

With the outbreak of the World War Two, Reb Chaim went to Eretz Yisroel with his father the ga'avad of Brisk and several of his brothers. His mother and a number of his brothers and sisters remained behind in Europe. Upon arrival in Eretz Yisroel, Reb Chaim began to study in Slobodka, where he delivered remarkable chaburos to the yeshiva students. HaRav Moshe Mordechai Shulsinger, who delivered a hesped over Reb Chaim in Bnei Brak, related that most of these chaburos were delivered after chatzos at night, to the yeshiva's top students.

R' Chaim's divrei Torah were outstanding and unique, and suitable for those who had studied for a number of years in Volozhin and Brisk.

He was exceptionally good-hearted towards everyone. A very warm person, he would sing at the yeshiva Shabbos table with much feeling, stirring the hearts of all who heard him. He often related his father's divrei Torah on Shir Hashirim and other divrei Torah that his father had cited in the name of HaRav Mordechai Gimpel Yaffeh and other gedolei Yisroel.

Maran the Griz once said that it is impossible for their family to produce someone who was not a good person. "Der Tatte would do countless acts of kindness daily." So it was with his grandson R' Chaim Halevi Soloveitchik, who excelled in kindness toward his fellow.

His profound, remarkable divrei Torah were both interesting and refreshing. Once on the night of the 17th of Tammuz he told his friends in the Slobodka yeshiva that the Mishnah says that on this night, Apostomos burned the Torah and added, "Only a foolish goy can think that it is possible to burn the Torah. [What actually happened?] Apostomos burned the Torah, and then [as a result,] in the Mishnah Rabbenu Hakodosh added seven holy words: `Beshiv'oh osor beTammuz soraf Apostomos es haTorah.' [Now,] whoever recites and studies this phrase fulfills seven mitzvos asei of study of the sacred Torah!

"It is impossible to burn the Torah. Torah emerges from the burning of the Torah. The parchment is burned and the letters hover in the air. From all this, there is Torah," he said.

The Griz asked HaRav Yaakov Moshe Lebowitz, the rosh yeshiva of Kaminetz in Yerushalayim, to study with his son bechavrusa. R' Chaim and HaRav Yaakov Moshe would study together every day either in the beis medrash Ohel Sarah in Meah Shearim or in the Griz's home.

HaRav Moshe Mordechai Shulsinger related that on erev Yom Kippur 5720 (1960), he came to the Slobodka yeshiva and told R' Chaim about the petiroh of his father, the ga'avad of Brisk. "It was close to the onset of Yom Kippur," HaRav Shulsinger said. "Reb Chaim went over to the seforim shelf, took out Yoreh De'ah part three, opened to siman 340, and stood there for a long time, reviewing the halochos of kri'oh and aveilus, up to the end. While reviewing the halochos he noted: `This halocho does pertain to me and this one does not pertain to me now.' All those present on that occasion were amazed by his deep adherence to halocho at that most difficult time in his life: the petiroh of his father. They were astounded that at such a time, he was concerned with what halocho from Sinai mandated at that precise moment.

"The following day, when the aron of the Griz was about to be removed from his house for burial, R' Chaim stood beside it and said: `Tatte, when you recited Tehillim in the old beis medrash in Brisk, everyone saw that you spoke with the Ribono Shel Olom."

In 5704 (1944), when the terrible reports of the Holocaust began to arrive from Europe, he became ill and suffered from many difficult illnesses for many years. However, he continued to deliver remarkable chiddushei Torah, even in Kodshim. Throughout the years, despite his suffering, he attended to the needs of others and empathized with their suffering. He was also meticulous in mitzvah observance under the most dire circumstances and always remembered people from his past.

For a while, he lived in the Tzefania Hotel. He later moved into the Kaminetz Yeshiva on Yechezkel Street. The yeshiva administration took care of all his needs, since he was the son of the ga'avad of Brisk who had been very close to HaRav Boruch Ber Lebowitz, as had the niftar himself. The roshei yeshiva of Kaminetz often said that HaRav Boruch Ber would surely have wanted the yeshiva to take care of him.

The levaya, leaving from the Kaminetz Yeshiva in Yerushalayim on motzei Shabbos the day before Chanukah close to chatzos, was attended by a large throng. A hesped was delivered by the rosh yeshiva of Kaminetz, HaRav Yitzchok Sheiner.

Reb Chaim Halevi Soloveitchik is survived by his brothers, HaRav Meir Halevi Soloveitchik, HaRav Meshulam Dovid Halevi Soloveitchik, as well as by his sisters, Rebbetzin Feinstein and Rebbetzin Schiff.


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