Living Legacy: The Chazon Ish

Living Legacy: The Chazon Ish

15 Cheshvan marks the 68th yohrtzeit of Rav Avrohom Yeshayahu Karelitz, zt”l, the leader of Torah Jewry in Eretz Yisroel during his time, greatly revered in every sphere of Klal Yisroel, and there are many around today who have still merited to see the Chazon Ish.

He was born in a small Polish village of Kosova, in the year 5639 (1878). His mother would later relate about his extreme hasmodoh from his early youth. .

In his youth, he learned in the kibbutz of Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzenski of Vilna. And like Rav Chaim Ozer, he did not have any official position—but was nevertheless seen as the great leader who carried Klal Yisroel upon his shoulders.

He married the daughter of a merchant from the Lithuanian town of Chveidan. Settling in the small town, these were the golden years in which he could toil in Torah from morning till night undisturbed. In 1911, he began publishing chiddushim.

During WWI, he was exiled from the area, and made his way to Minsk and later Vilna, where he continued to learn without letup.

In 1933, he came to Eretz Yisroel, and settled in the settlement of Bnei Brak.

His time there was transformative, and the values he espoused became the manifesto of today’s yeshiva world. Famously, David Ben-Gurion came to his home to try and convince him of the importance of Charedim joining the Israeli military and participating in the strengthening the state. The Chazon Ish remained forceful, and ultimately won his respect. The same went for any number of issues that arose during his leadership; he was the undisputed authority on Torah Jewry. 

Like his greatness in Torah, so was he a ga’on in middos and kindness. He once heard of a certain congregation outside Bnei Brak which had resolved to fire its Rov, and intended to do so at a meeting with the rov after maariv, all unbeknownst to the Rov. The elderly Chazon Ish made his way there, and sat down at the shiur that the rov was delivering before ma’ariv, listening with great interest, and constantly lauding his brilliance. Needless to say, after witnessing this, the congregants immediately changed their minds about their intentions to fire their distinguished rov whom the gadol hador so clearly respected.

The Chazon Ish pioneered a unique path in halacha, and his psakim, with regard to shiurium (measurements, in Dalet minim and mitzvos related to food [such as matzah, sukkah, fasting) are famed in the world of Torah and halacha. In addition, his chiddushim on many portions of Shas are learned and analyzed in yeshivos throughout the world. According to someone who spent time around the Chazon Ish in his later years, he dedicated himself to the topic of Kiddush hachodesh, and the subject of astronomy, for two years with great intensity. He later authored a sefer on these topics.

Numerous biographical volumes have been dedicated to the studying the life of this wondrous, multi-faceted gadol who so impacted the course of world Jewry in the modern era—small glimpses into this incredible living legacy. 

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