Wednesday, August 08, 2007

25th Av - Steipler Gaon's Yarzheit

(In every picture he has a grumpy face, but in reality everyone who met him said he always greeted people with a smile. Never trust the cameras, even without photoshop!!)

Don't make the mistake of naming your child 'Steipler' after the Steipler - his real name was Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky. He was the brother in law of the Chazon Ish (and lived next door to him in B'nei Brak) and was the father of R' Chaim Kanievsky, who he held to be a bigger talmid chacham than he was.

His yarzheit was yesterday, and even though it is over 20 years since his death, he is still quoted all the time in yeshivas, mussar shmuezen, and in books. Perhaps only the Chazon Ish and the Brisker Rav are cited more often (of his contemporaries, making them the prophet, the Gaon and the Rishon) - and in America R' Yaakov, R' Moshe and R' Aaron.

There are interesting articles about him in these locations (some of the facts may even be true)

The Steipler Gaon, Zt'l

Judaism 101 - Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky, The Steipler - A ...

We Knew The Steipler Gaon, zt'l 23rd Av 5760, His Fifteenth Yahrtzeit

But here is the entry from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky, known as The Steipler or The Steipler Gaon (1899–1985), was a world-renowned Posek and Talmudic scholar.

He was born in the Russian town of Horensteipl, from which his appellation, "the Steipler", was later derived. He was the son of Chaim Peretz, who was a Chernobyl Chassid and the local shochet. Around the age of 11, Rabbi Kanievsky entered the Novardok yeshiva, studying under its famed dean, Rabbi Yosef Yoizel Horowitz.

Having progressed rapidly and gained a reputation as a Talmid Chacham, around the age of 19 he was sent by Rabbi Horowitz to set up a branch of the yeshiva in Rogochov. However, the Bolshevik Revolution was in full swing and Rabbi Kanievsky was conscripted into the Red Army. In spite of the harsh conditions, he continued to strictly observe all the mitzvot.

Once, during his army stint, Rabbi Kanievsky was court martialled for "failing to do his duty" when there was a possibility of breaking the Sabbath. He was forced to walk between two rows of soldiers who were ordered to beat him as he passed. In later years, Rabbi Kanievsky remarked that the satisfaction he had enjoyed for making a stand for his religious convictions was an achievement never again equalled for the rest of his life.

After serving under arms for some time, Rabbi Kanievsky managed to get discharged. He decided to move to BiaƂystok in Poland in order to continue learning Torah unhindered from Communist interference. There, he studied under Rabbi Avrohom Jofen.

In 1925, Rabbi Kanievsky published his first Sefer, Sha'arei Tevunah ("gates of understanding"). This was received with great acclaim, and the work eventually reached Rabbi Avraham Yeshayahu Karelitz (known as the "Chazon Ish) in Vilna. Without even meeting him, Rabbi Karelitz decided that the author of such a work was worthy of marrying his sister Miriam.

Rabbi Kanievsky was then appointed Rosh Yeshiva of the Novarodok yeshiva in Pinsk. In 1934, he relocated to Bnei Brak in Israel, where his brother-in-law Rabbi Karelitz had already been living for a year and a half. For many years he was head of two yeshivas there. Though known as a world-class scholar, Rabbi Kanievsky shunned publicity and lived in humble circumstances, teaching, writing and devoting himself to Torah and good deeds.

Over 150,000 mourners thronged to Rabbi Kanievsky's funeral in 1985. His son, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, is a Haredi rabbinical authority in his own right.

May His Soul Be Bound in the Bonds of Eternal Life

No comments:

Post a Comment