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13 Marcheshvan 5775 - November 6, 2014 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Sparks of Greatness
The Chazon Ish: HaRav Avrohom Yeshayohu Karelitz, zt"l

In honor of his yahrtzeit, 15 Cheshvan, 5714

In the predawn hours, when the world was still peaceful and silent, the Chazon Ish would take a walk before davening. One such morning in the year 1948 (or before) he was walking, wrapped in his Torah thoughts, oblivious to anything around him.

A soldier, seeing this strange figure, draped in a white sheet with strings attached to all four corners, became very suspicious.


His terse command was unnoticed by Rabbeinu, who continued walking, unaware that he was being spoken to.

The soldier saw he was facing an enemy camouflaged in white and black cloth and drawing menacingly closer. Taking on a position of defense, he drew his rifle and shot in the direction of the tallis.

Miraculously, the Chazon Ish was unscathed and, after clarifying who he was, the soldier allowed him to continue on his way to the beis haknesses.

When it came to krias HaTorah and the Chazon Ish asked for an aliyah, everyone was sure he wanted to bentch Hagomel. To their surprise, Rabbeinu merely said Bircas HaTorah with intense concentration.

He later explained that at the time of the shooting, he had been in the middle of saying Bircas HaTorah of the morning brochos. "Due to the shock, noise and confusion, I'm afraid I did not have total kavonoh when saying the brochoh, so to be sure I wanted to bentch again."


Reb Dovid'l Frankel, who accompanied Rabbeinu on his daily walk for the sake of his health, had much to relate of Rabbeinu's constant iyun beTorah.

They walked a regular route that took between forty-five minutes and an hour, there and back.

Once, after walking forty minutes, the Chazon Ish, who had been absorbed in his learning all the time, asked if they had passed a certain shop. Upon hearing that they were almost home already, the Chazon Ish sighed, "For one Tosefta I needed three blocks," bemoaning the fact that although he had concentrated intensely, all he had managed was one Tosefta.

On one such stroll, the Chazon Ish stopped at an orchard near his home and remarked to his companion, "On the spot where two yeshiva bochurim once stood and spoke divrei Torah, the kedushoh is palpable even up to now."

So related HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, shlita.


As a child, he was not sent to learn with the melamed together with other children his age. Rather, his father, the rov of Kosova, preferred to learn with him at home so that his precious, talented son would not hear the mundane chatter of his childish friends.

When the Chazon Ish was later asked if it is so necessary to be careful at such a young age, he replied, "You don't understand. Even a small thing at a young age has an immense power to harm the soul of a child."


In 1947, when a boat of Hungarian Jewish refugees left the blood-soaked European countries for the shores of Eretz Yisroel, my zeide, the gaon Rabbi Y. HaLevi Feldman shlita, went in to the Chazon Ish in Bnei Brak to request that he daven on behalf of the refugees, that they should arrive safely.

Joyfully, the Chazon Ish exclaimed, "The Ungarische Yidden are coming! The Maharsho Yidden. They are the ones who learn the Maharsho in quantity and depth. Surely they'll arrive safely and besholom." And so it was.

Similarly, the chossid Reb Chaim Leib Stein related the following episode.

Reb Chaim Leib was working in his house in Bnei Brak when he heard voices outside.

Looking through the window, he beheld an interesting sight: An acquaintance of his was perched high on a ladder fixing the eruv of the neighborhood, while the Chazon Ish stood below giving directions.

Upon finishing, the Chazon Ish assured the Jew that the eruv was now in order and he could go home. Seeing the Chazon Ish about to return home alone, R' Chaim Leib grabbed his hat and coat and ran outside to accompany him. As they walked the Chazon Ish remarked happily, "Since the Ungarische Yidden have come, there are people with whom to "speak Yiddishkeit."

The rosh yeshiva of Kol Torah, HaRav Shmuel HaKohen Deutsch, was present during the following episode:

In 5712 (1952) the Chazon Ish was fighting the cause of shmittah, with mesirus nefesh. He was determined that shmittah be kept with every stringency, without compromising on halochoh as in the heter mechirah.

Upon discussing the matter with the various askonim involved, one of them tried to persuade Rabbeinu that the heteirim were already so deeply ingrained in the farmers' systems that it was futile to oppose them.

At this, the Chazon Ish replied insistently, "Nein, nein! I'll call my Hungarian baalei batim. They have been brought up not to be swayed, not to change even the slightest detail in halacha. With the power of their firmness and mesirus nefesh, I'm sure they will support and fight for shmittah."

Indeed, together they succeeded in strengthening this holy mitzvah and raising it to today's standard.

During shmittah, a farmer of a PAI kibbutz came to ask the Chazon Ish a shailoh concerning a certain crop. He wasn't sure if it had grown the shiur that obligates the laws of shmittah to be kept or not. Unwilling to give a psak without seeing, the Chazon Ish took the long, bumpy ride to the kibbutz to see firsthand. Upon seeing the crop, he rendered it osur to use and the field had to be plowed over. The psak was obeyed without question.

Several weeks later, the Chazon Ish contacted the secretary of the aforementioned kibbutz, asking that a representative be sent to him.

"A few weeks ago, I was cruel to you (this was his exact expression) when I paskened you must plow up the field," said the Chazon Ish to the puzzled farmer before him. "Today some money arrived from Chutz La'aretz for Shomrei Shevi'is, and I'm handing it over to you."

So saying, Rabbeinu handed the farmer a check. To the wonder of the secretary, the check covered the exact amount that was lost by plowing the field that had been questionable.


A Polish Holocaust survivor who lived in Bnei Brak had lost a great fortune that had been invested in plots of land in Europe. When the issue of German restitution arose, the Jew, who had legal documents to support his claims and knew the plots existed, went to the Chazon Ish for advice.

To his disappointment, Rabbeinu told him not to apply, adding, "From this type of money one doesn't see hatzlochoh."

The Yid obeyed the psak — temporarily. Some years later, however, when the Berlin wall came down and Germany reunified, he applied for his restitution. From then, he began to lose his business, a fact which he attributed to his not having heeded the warning of the Chazon Ish.

At around the same time as he had first asked the Chazon Ish, HaRav Zalman Sorotzkin zt"l, head of the Vaad Hayeshivos, asked the Chazon Ish if he should take money from German compensation for the yeshivos.

The Chazon Ish responded, "Chazal tell us that a person's livelihood is decided from one Rosh Hashonoh to the next. Our work for money is only so that we will have done our hishtadlus. Then the parnossoh will come.

"When the Vaad Hayeshivos will come before Beis Din Shel Maaloh, they'll be asked why they did not take German money for the yeshivos. They should answer that they had done a lot of hishtadlus and they tried everything that they could, but they nonetheless decided not to try this possibility since the generation's leaders were not happy with it."

Concluded Rabbeinu, "I think with that tainoh, you will be meritorious in the judgment!"


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