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14 Iyar 5764 - May 5, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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HaRav Shmuel Kivilevitz, zt"l
by Betzalel Kahn

HaRav Shmuel Halevy Kivilevitz, zt"l one of the conveyors of the traditions from the previous generation, passed away in Jerusalem last week on 6 Iyar at the age of 91.

Shmuel Kivilevitz was born in Lodz, Poland in 5673 (1913) to R' Chaim. His mother Idla passed away when he was three years old. Though an only child, Shmuel was sent away to a yeshiva ketanoh at a very young age. When he arrived at Yeshivas Baranowitz at the age of 13, the rosh yeshiva, HaRav Elchonon Wasserman Hy"d asked him to prepare a daf of gemora with Rashi and Tosafos. On motzei Shabbos after Havdoloh the young Shmuel began reading the daf and after just a few minutes R' Elchonon accepted him, placing the young man in Shiur Gimmel and assigning him to share a room with his own son Naftoli, with whom he formed a deep friendship that lasted for years.

When he transferred to Yeshivas Mir he continued to learn with Naftoli as his chavrusa. When Naftoli went to HaRav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel a few years later and told him chiddushei Torah in Shmuel's name, HaRav Finkel was amazed that he had never heard of the young man.

At Yeshivas Mir in 5691, Shmuel maintained close ties with the Mashgiach, Rav Yeruchom, whom he would quote with tremendous precision for years to come. At Mir he became known as the "Lodzer Illui."

In 5696 (1936) after receiving a draft notice he consulted with his rebbe. Seeing no way to avoid induction, Rav Yeruchom advised him to go to Eretz Yisroel. R' Shmuel asked what would become of his Torah learning, but Rav Yeruchom assured him Torah could be learned anywhere, not just in Mir, and told him how to secure an immigration certificate through his brother-in-law Mordechai Weinstein (husband of his sister Grunia tchye), the well-known askan.

In Eretz Yisroel he went to learn at Yeshivas Chevron, where he was held in fond regard by the Rosh Yeshiva, HaRav Yechezkel Sarna, who later asked him to help with his writings. After a year-and-a-half he transferred to Yeshivas Lomzhe in Petach Tikva because many of his friends from abroad were there, including HaRav Shmuel Rozovsky and HaRav Zalman Rotberg and ylct"a HaRav Moshe Shmuel Shapira.

At the end of his period at Lomzhe he began to give regular shiurim to a group of bochurim. On the day of his wedding they placed an announcement in Kol Yisroel referring to him as, "Our esteemed rabbi and teacher, the great man of Torah and yir'oh, HaRav HaGaon . . . " On Tu BeShevat 5703 (1943) he had the merit to marry into the family of Rosh Yeshivas Eitz Chaim HaRav Shlomo Zalman Zaleznik.

Immediately after his wedding he began to deliver shiurim at his father-in- law's yeshiva, continuing until 5719 (1959). During this period he had a major impact on the approach to Torah learning at the yeshiva.

The Chazon Ish once said that before leaving Eitz Chaim for another yeshiva one should learn under HaRav Kivilevitz for at least one year, and indeed roshei yeshivos who accepted talmidim from Eitz Chaim asked them to spend time learning under HaRav Kivilevitz before coming to their respective yeshivas.

After 16 years at Yeshivas Eitz Chaim in Jerusalem he was invited to assume the post of Rosh Yeshivas Eitz Chaim in Antwerp. A few years later he returned to Eretz Yisroel and set up Yeshivas Beis HaTalmud, where he was engaged in harbotzas Torah for years.

Afterwards he spent many years as the chief editor of Otzar Meforshei HaTalmud and edited numerous seforim, including the writings of HaRav Aharon Kotler and HaRav Yechezkel Sarna, zt"l.

He had close bonds with all of the great talmidei chachomim of Jerusalem and Eretz Yisroel, including HaRav Isser Zalman Meltzer, the Brisker Rov and HaRav Shach. For many years he was entrusted to convey the Brisker Rov's opinions to the public.

All his life HaRav Kivilevitz toiled in Torah. He would spend hours and days in the library at Yeshivas Eitz Chaim. While editing Otzar Meforshei HaTalmud he sometimes spent a week or two sitting undisturbed in order to understand a single sugya and to ensure that his work was accurate.

Throughout his lifetime he considered himself one of the conveyors of the Torah learning of the preceding generation, and spent years working on the publication of writings and books by the greats of the previous generation.

HaRav Kivilevitz lost his wife at a young age and later outlived a daughter and a daughter-in-law as well. The nisyonos he faced throughout his lifetime never deterred him from his great yearning for Torah learning. He had a formidable memory capable of retaining vast knowledge of Shas as well as fine details of the hashkofoh and hanhogos of gedolei hadoros.

When he was asked to head large yeshivas he would avoid accepting the post and continued his harbotzas Torah hidden from the public eye.

Eleven years ago as he was turning 80, his son-in-law, HaRav Berachyohu Shenker suggested the time had come to start looking for a match for his own grandson and went to seek the advice of Maran HaRav Shach zt"l. Upon hearing that HaRav Kivilevitz's great-grandson was learning assiduously, HaRav Shach told HaRav Shenker that his grandson should continue to learn and b'ezras Hashem HaRav Kivilevitz would reach the age of 90 as well.

That was just what happened, and when HaRav Kivilevitz became ill a few years ago he remained calm in light of the brochoh he had received from the Rosh Yeshiva.

HaRav Kivilevitz' levaya set out from his home on Chashmonaim Street in Jerusalem's Mekor Boruch neighborhood. Hespeidim were delivered by HaRav Shmuel Auerbach, HaRav Efraim Zaleznik, his son-in-law HaRav Boruch Shmuel Hacohen Deutsch, his son-in-law HaRav Berachyohu Shenker, his talmid HaRav Moshe Salant, the rov of Mekor Boruch HaRav Yonah Ram and his son HaRav Avrohom.

HaRav Shmuel Halevy Kivilevitz zt"l is survived by his dedicated wife Bertoh; his three sons HaRav Avrohom, HaRav Yaakov and Rav Binyomin; his sons-in- law HaRav Boruch Shmuel Deutsch, HaRav Berachyohu Shenker, HaRav Moshe Kulitz and HaRav Meir Farbstein; as well as grandchildren and great- grandchildren, all following in his great footsteps along the path of Torah and yir'oh.


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