The 1st Shabbat Rav Chaim and Rabbanit Batsheva Spent Together

The 1st Shabbat Rav Chaim and Rabbanit Batsheva Spent Together

I’m not Charedi. My sons and husband wear knitted kippot. It never occurred to me, during Rav Kanievsky’s lifetime, to send my husband to ask him questions or to request a bua”h (bracha v’hatslacha) or to view Rav Kanievsky’s piskei halacha as binding on me or my colorful, vociferously Zionistic family.
So it is strange how saddened I feel by Rav Kanievsky’s passing. As though a supporting column in my life and in the life of the Jewish people has suddenly collapsed.
Today, as I listened to the coverage of Rabbi Kanievsky’s funeral, I learned quite a few things I never knew about Rav Kanievsky.
Rav Kanievsky, I found out, was never a Rosh Yeshiva.
He never even gave a speech in his entire life, except on 2 occasions: at his bar mitzvah and his wedding.
So what made Rav Kanievsky the Gadol HaDor, the “Prince of Torah”?
Because, I heard over and over today, Rav Kanievsky learned Torah and learned Torah and learned Torah. The pleasures of the material world were of no interest to him. Only Torah, and more Torah.
Until a few years ago, Rav Kanievsky would study Torah in 36-hour shifts, and even in recent years, in his nineties and with more and more demands on his time as universally-regarded leader of the Charedi world, Rav Kanievsky would still learn 17 hours a day. Every year, beginning and ending erev Pesach, he would complete the entire Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds, Shulchan Aruch, as well as Tanach, Rambam, Midrash and more.
Something else that I heard about today was Rav Kanievsky’s remarkable dedication to his Rabbanit, Batsheva.
At the funeral, Rav Kanievsky’s son Rabbi Shlomo Kanievsky said, “If Eema wasn’t sitting at the table eating as well, Abba refused to eat. He was careful not to eat without her.”
Rav Kanievsky also, famously, didn’t like for Rabbanit Batsheva to go out unnecessarily, since he said he learned Torah much better when she was home with him.
The following incredible story told by journalist Dov Eichler, the son of Knesset Member Rabbi Eichler, highlights a moment when his dedication to Torah and his dedication to his Rabbanit came head to head:
“When young Rav Chaim Kanievsky went to pick up his bride-to-be, Bat Sheva Eliashiv, from the bus stop in Tel aviv. Batsheva had come from the home of her father, Rav Eliashiv in Jerusalem, to spend Shabbat at the home of her father-in-law to be, the Steipler Gaon in Bnei Brak. But Rav Kanievsky was learning gemara and he was so focused on his learning that he didn’t notice he was sitting at the wrong bus stop. In the end, Batsheva had to make her way to the Kanievsky household with a different family. After Shabbat, when she was on her way back to Jerusalem, Rav Kanievsky’s father, the Steipler Gaon, and his uncle, the Chazon Ish, accompanied young Batsheva to the bus stop, apologizing with a smile that Rav Kanievsky was so deeply focused on a sugia he was learning they feared he would leave her off at the wrong bus stop.”
This morning my 9-year-old son Yaakov said, “Eema, the funeral is going to be extremely crowded.” But instead of saying, in Hebrew, it would be “Extremely crowded” (Omes Yeter) he mixed up the words and said there would be Emes Yeter. Extreme Emes.
Out of the mouths of babes.
May Rav Kanievsky’s memory be an eternal blessing and may he serve as a heavenly advocate for all of us.

3 comments

  1. I love how you have so much ahavas yisroel. Thanx for this beautiful piece.

  2. I’ve always hated this story. To force a young woman to have to hitchhike with another family to his home? And his father and uncle (who apparently had nothing better to do?) had to take her to the bus stop because they didn’t trust him to do it? I would tell my daughter to find someone else. This isn’t a nice story and it makes him look bad and I don’t know why this is a story that we think is cute.

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