BDE: Rav Chaim Kanievsky Leaves This World Following 94 Years Dedicated Completely to Torah
By: Rocklanddaily Staff
Shock, grief, and sadness descended upon Klal Yisroel around the world as it took in the sudden and deeply saddening news of the passing of the sar haTorah in the waning hours of Shushan Purim, in Bnei Brak. The news rippled through the world like shockwaves—bringing a pall of shock and sadness in Jewish communities that had been permeated with fervent joy of the holy days of Purim.
Rav Chaim was seen by so many as the godol hador, the spiritual beacon illuminating the lives of the masses of Klal Yisroel, a source of blessing and light for so many who looked to him—even has be barely removed his gaze from his beloved seforim.
He was born in the year 1928, in the town of Pinsk, Belarus, to his holy father, Rav Yaakov Yisroel, known as “Steipeler ga’on.” His mother was Rebbetzin Pesha Miriam, the sister of the Chazon Ish—widely seen as the defining leader in establishing the Torah community in Eretz Yisroel.
From his earliest youth, he became known for his photographic memory, and his superhuman hasmodoh—traits that would define him for the rest of his life on this earth; regularly learning for the majority of the 24 hours in the day until his last day on this earth.
The family came to Eretz Yisroel in the 1930’s, and settled in Bnei Brak.
Rav Chaim married Rebbetzin Bas Sheva, the daughter of Rav Yosef Sholom Elyashiv, zt”l—who enabled him to carry on his incredible learning schedule. He often attributed much of what he achieved to her removing every responsibility from him, freeing him to learn.
And this is what he did for his entire life; learn, incessantly.
For decades, he completed the entire Shas every single year—Bavli and Yerushalmi—marking it with a siyum on Erev Pesach. This was in addition to his sedorim in many other areas of Torah.
His writings and published works are voluminous, and brilliant. In addition to his own writings, an incredible amount of his Torah and hashkofoh were transcribed into volumes in Hebrew and English. In fact, there is an entire bibliography on his many works.
Rav Chaim sought to do nothing but learn. But the generation needed him. His own yichus, in addition to that of his Rebbetzin, made him a natural successor to his father-in-law, Rav Elyashiv as the leader of the Torah world. Upon the passing of his mechutan, Rav Aaron Leib Steinman, he was left with no choice but to assume this mantle.
But he did it his way.
With his beloved gemoro remaining in opened in front of him, he answered the queries of the nation, and soothed their wounds, individual and communal. Always in an extremely concise manner, but his answers reached their intended address, guiding, illuminating, and encouraging.
The one way, however, to get Rav Chaim’s complete attention, and joyful expression, was through talmidei yeshiva whom he would engage with Torah. This was when he perked up, becoming clearly animated.
Tens of thousands of people, from all walks of life, streamed to his door for brochos—and they would walk away after this brief interaction feeling like millionaires.
And so, Rav Chaim continued his avodah, within the four walls of his extremely simple, and sparsely-furnished apartment on Rechov Rashbam, an address that the entire world looked to.
He was weak in the last few days, but he continued his learning schedule, and even received people on Purim day.
Friday afternoon, he collapsed in his home. First responders attempted to resuscitate him, but his holy neshomoh ascended to the Heavens where it would continue to bask in the glow of Hashem and His Torah—while Klal Yisroel is left orphaned and bereft.
With his passing taking place too close to Shabbos, the levaya is scheduled to take place in Bnei Brak on Sunday morning—an event that is sure to be one of the largest ever seen, as a nation will mourn the great extinguished light.