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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.