Dei'ah veDibur - Information &

A Window into the Chareidi World

27 Nisan 5775 - April 16, 2015 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










Produced and housed by











HaRav Chaim Greineman zt"l

by M Berger

On the Seventh Day of Pesach the Torah world lost the great gaon HaRav Chaim Shaul Greineman who had a heart attack after the yom tov seudah. He was 89.

HaRav Chaim zt"l was born on Rosh Chodesh Nisan 5626 (1926) in Vilna. His father was HaRav Shmuel Greineman zt"l and his mother was Tzivia, the daughter of HaRav Shemaryahu Yosef Karelitz zt"l the rav of Kosovo, a city near Vilna. HaRav Avrohom Yeshayohu Karelitz zt"l, known as the author of the series of seforim Chazon Ish, was his uncle. At the bris of R' Chaim and his twin brother HaRav Pinchas Dovid zt"l, the sandek of R' Chaim was his uncle the Chazon Ish, and the sandek of R' Dovid was HaRav Boruch Ber Leibowitz zt"l.

Even as a youth he became known as a gifted student. His rebbe in his earlier years was his uncle Rav Yitzchok Karelitz Hy"d who had taken over as rav of Kosovo with the passing of HaRav Shmuel. The Chazon Ish once described him as a neshomoh without a body. HaRav Yitzchok gave the young R' Chaim his basic training in the ways of the gemora. HaRav Yitzchok and his wife and daughter were later murdered by the Nazis in their home.

On Rosh Chodesh Sivan 5695 (1935) R' Chaim went to Eretz Yisroel together with his parents and siblings and his grandmother Rasha Leah o"h the mother of the Chazon Ish. They all settled in Bnei Brak near the Chazon Ish who had preceded them to Eretz Yisroel. His father was very active in communal matters and frequently traveled for long stays. As a result the Chazon Ish was put in charge of the chinuch of his young nephew.

At first he learned in Yeshivas Tiferes Tzion. Also learning there at the time were HaRav Nissim Karelitz and HaRav Chaim Kanievsky shlita.

As a child he learned together with his uncle the Chazon Ish a lot. He learned to the limits of his strength and even got sick because of his exertions. He used to take care of many things for the Chazon Ish. For example he made the arrangements for a new pair of tefillin for the Chazon Ish, and when the latter went to rest for a few days he took R' Chaim with him.

Even before his bar mitzvah, he went to Yerushalayim to learn in Yeshivas Knesses Yisroel Chevron, where he learned bechavrusa with HaRav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz zt"l.

In Elul 5705 (1945) he married Rebbetzin Channah Devorah amush, who was the daughter of HaRav Yisroel Luria of Yerushalayim. Among his brothers-in-law were HaRav Avrohom Yaakov Zelaznik zt"l the rosh yeshiva of Eitz Chaim, HaRav Chaim Aharon Turczin zt"l the rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Hametzuyonim, HaRav Avrohom Yaakov Viener zt"l, author of Sheilas Yaakov and one of the talmidim of the Chazon Ish, and HaRav Yosef Lis zt"l.

For several years he lived in Yerushalayim and he used to speak regularly with the Brisker Rov zt"l. At the bris of his oldest son HaRav Yitzchok Dovid shlita at the Bikur Cholim hospital, the Chazon Ish came to Yerushalayim to be the sandek. On that trip, the Chazon Ish went to visit the Brisker Rov in the latter's home.

In 5708 the Chazon Ish wanted to fulfill the mitzvah of writing a sefer Torah from the beginning of the mitzvah until the end, and he asked R' Chaim to purchase the skins and to tan them, and then to find an expert sofer and oversee the writing of the sefer Torah. R' Chaim threw himself into the task and worked very hard at it, but progress was slow. When the family asked R' Chaim why he does not fulfill the task with zerizus that was characteristic of most things he did for the Chazon Ish, he replied that if Maran the Chazon Ish wants to fulfill the mitzvah during his lifetime, then we can be confident that min haShomayim they will ensure that the Rebbe will complete the mitzvah in his lifetime. Therefore there is no reason to hurry.

In the end it took five years and the sefer Torah was completed in Av, 5713. The Chazon Ish was niftar just three months later in Cheshvan, 5714 (1953).

R' Chaim published his first sefer, Kelila Devrada on the Rambam's Hilchos Beis Habechira, in 5707 when he was just 21. Maran the Chazon Ish honored the sefer with comments. His next publication was the first volume in his series Chidushim Ubei'urim. The first volume was on maseches Niddah. R' Chaim went on to publish volumes on every masechta in Shas from Brochos to Uktzin. The volumes reflect his mastery of all the Torah. Many of the sugyos are developed into the final halochoh.

At various times he gave shiurim which were attended by the general public. He eventually opened a yeshiva that followed his particular derech in learning. It eventually moved to Zichron Yaakov and became known as Zichron Michoel, led by his son-in-law HaRav Yosef Chaim Ben Dov.

He was always concerned to increase Torah in the world, and he was among the first to found various educational institutions for the Eidot Hamizrach. At great personal sacrifice he opened such institutions all over the country. He was also among the first to open schools for girls from the Eidot Hamizrach, and in particular he helped HaRav Moshe Pardo in setting up the seminar Or HaChaim in Bnei Brak that continues to educate thousands of girls along the Torah derech of Yisroel Saba.

He was also among the early supporters of the Israeli Teshuva movement, and founded and supported the Arachim movement which has enjoyed success in bringing Torah to our brethren all over the world.

With his extensive Torah and great all-around wisdom, R' Chaim became an address that many turned to for advice on matters great and small. In particular many brought him their medical issues which he had learned about from the Chazon Ish. As the work load increased, he eventually asked ylct"a Rabbi Elimelech Firer to handle most of the questions, making himself available for consultation on particularly difficult or complex matters.

The philanthropist Rabbi Yaakov Halperin zt"l provided in his will that a group of talmidei chachomim should be in charge of his many projects. After the passing of the Steipler Gaon, R' Chaim was the only surviving member. Thus for many years he directed the activities of the Halperin hekdeshim.

For many years he used to leave his home in Bnei Brak during the week and spend his days in a small apartment in Tifrach, a village in the south of Israel. He would dedicate himself to learning and writing his chidushim in all areas of Torah.

He was famous for his strict adherence to halochoh. In particular he was careful about kashrus. He would only buy basic, unprocessed food products, and insisted on a special shechitah that he oversaw. He always davened kevosikin. His special day of the year was Simchas Torah where his deep feeling for Torah found expression.

In recent weeks he became very weak and sick. Nonetheless he was occupied just with issues of dvar Hashem and Torah learning. On the last day of Pesach (Shevi'i shel Pesach) he davened as usual and ate the yom tov seudah. Afterwards he went to rest a bit and suffered a heart attack and passed away. His family and admirers struggled to continue with the avodoh of Pesach and Shabbos in the face of the bitter news.

The levaya left his beis medrash at 11 on Sunday, 23 Nisan. A crowd of tens of thousands accompanied him to his final rest, including Maran Rosh Hayeshiva HaRav Shteinman, HaRav Nissim Karelitz, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky and HaRav Gershon Eidelstein and other Torah figures. In Nisan there are no hespedim, and also the niftar had left a detailed will in which he asked to minimize hespedim and in particular to minimize praises. The first speaker was HaRav Dov Lando, rosh yeshiva of Slobodka Yeshiva in Bnei Brak. He was followed by the niftar's brother, HaRav Meir Greineman. In addition to their remarks, both read parts of the will that the niftar left. After this they said Tziduk Hadin and the niftar's son HaRav Yitzchok Dovid said Kaddish.

He was buried near his uncle the Chazon Ish.

He is survived by a large family that follows his path. This includes his sons HaRav Yitzchok Dovid, HaRav Yehoshua Aharon, HaRav Yosef, HaRav Shimshon, HaRav Avrohom Yeshayohu, HaRav Shmuel, HaRav Nochum, HaRav Moshe, HaRav Meir, HaRav Yaakov, HaRav Shlomoh and HaRav Eliahu shlita, and his sons-in-law HaRav Yosef Chaim Ben Dov, HaRav Dovid Chanoch Silber, HaRav Yisroel Menachem Hirschfeld and HaRav Shmuel Chaim Chevroni shlita. He is also survived by a brother HaRav Meir shlita, and sisters: Rebbetzin Finkel, the wife of HaRav Beinish Finkel zt"l and Rebbetzin Wilman as well as her husband HaRav Shraga Dov Wilman shlita and another brother-in-law HaRav Dov Dvoratz shlita. He is also survived by numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren and thousands of talmidim and followers.


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.