Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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26 Tishrei 5760 - October 6, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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HaRav Shlomo Shimshon Karelitz zt"l

by A. Cohen

On motzei Yom Kippur, thousands of Bnei Brak residents led by maranan verabonon, gedolei haTorah as well as roshei yeshiva, dayanim and bnei Torah, participated in the levaya of HaRav Shlomo Shimshon Karelitz, zt"l, one of Eretz Yisroel's veteran dayanim.

HaRav Karelitz was niftar on Yom Kippur night at the age of 90.

Rav Shlomo Karelitz was born in Vilna. His father Reb Meir was the brother of the Chazon Ish. His mother, Miriam, was the daughter of the Cheshek Shlomo.

In this home of Torah and yiras Shomayim, his special personality was formed. He was known for his remarkable hasmodoh, outstanding intellectual capabilities and his sensitivity and kindness.

As a youth, he studied in the yeshiva ketana in Kosova, under the tutelage of his uncle, Reb Yitzchok Karelitz. His fellow students at that time testified to his remarkable endeavors in Torah, as well as his habit of reviewing by heart the material he had studied.

On his way from the yeshiva's study hall to the dining room, he would review the Tumim by heart.

In Vilna he became attached to HaRav Chaim Ozer, and would often visit him in order to speak in learning. When the Chofetz Chaim visited HaRav Chaim Ozer, young Reb Shlomo Shimshon merited to receive a blessing.

Despite his young age, he went to Mir Yeshiva with a recommendation from Rav Chaim Ozer, who promised that the roshei yeshiva of Mir would not regret having accepted him.

In Mir, he excelled in his hasmodoh, extensive knowledge and recollection of all that he studied.

He corresponded with HaRav Chaim Ozer as well as with the Marcheshes and the Afikei Yam, who lived near his parents' hometown, with whom he had a special relationship.

In Mir he was very close with Rav Yeruchom, who loved him as a son. Throughout his entire life, Rav Shlomo Shimshon spoke with love and reverence about his illustrious mentor. As a youth, Rav Yeruchom would substitute for his father in the rabbinate of the town of Blachowitz, answering halachic queries.

In 5700 (1940), he married Devora, o'h daughter of Reb Zalman Dov Weiner, one of the eminent residents of Vilna. His wedding, held in Yerushalayim, was attended by the Chazon Ish, who remained in Yerushalayim for the Shabbos after the wedding. This was one of the rare Shabbosim in which the Chazon Ish was a guest in the city.

In Yerushalayim, HaRav Shlomo Shimshon studied in the Ohel Torah Kollel and was close to the Rav of Brisk, in whose minyan he davened. The Rav asked Rebbetzin Karelitz to teach his daughter privately.

A short while later he moved to Bnei Brak, where he studied in Heichal Hatalmud in Tel Aviv and headed its yeshiva ketana.

At the recommendation of his uncle, the Chazon Ish, he assumed the position of dayan, and for over forty years served as dayan and av beis din, first in Tel Aviv and later in Petach Tikvah.

He was one of the most venerable dayanim in the country.

Prominent dayanim and rabbonim from all over the world regarded him as one of the greatest experts in Even Haezer and Choshen Mishpat.

Nonetheless, he would always seek the opinions of other gedolei Torah. In the beginning, he would consult the Chazon Ish. After the petirah of the Chazon Ish, he began to consult with the Rav of Brisk in all complex halachic issues.

After the petirah of the Rav of Brisk, he wanted to consult with the Steipler, HaRav Yaakov Yisroel Kanievsky, who refused his request, not wanting to answer shailos lema'aseh.

From then on, he consulted with HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv, and the two spent many hours together clarifying complex halachic issues.

He established a number of important procedures in the world of dayonus which shaped the quality of its spiritual image, including the conduction of examinations for dayanim.

These examinations were supervised by HaRav Eliashiv and HaRav Shlomo Shimshon.

He constituted a remarkable blend of humility, pashtus and self-nullification. However, whenever halachic issues were involved, he was resolute and authoritative, fulfilling the dictum of lo soguru mipnei ish.

During the period of the heter regarding mamzerim, HaRav Shlomo was the principal figure in the battle against those seeking to permit the forbidden. He was also firmly against regarding the Bnei Yisrael community of India as bona fide Jews, and led the public efforts to that effect.

A number of years ago he fell seriously ill, but at the sane time he published two works: Ateres Shlomo on Choshen Mishpat and Even Haezer, and Divrei Shlomo, chiddushim on various topics.

A few months ago, his health deteriorated and he passed away on Yom Kippur night.

His levaya set out from Yeshivas Beis Meir to the Netzivei Ponevezh cemetery in Bnei Brak. Hespedim were delivered by HaRav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz as well as by the niftar's son-in-law, Rav Noach Palei and the niftar's brother-in-law, HaRav Zalman Rotberg.

He is survived by his sons, HaRav Zalman Dov, one of the rabbonim of Bat Yam, and HaRav Yitzchok, one of the prominent members of the Halperin Kollel. His daughter is married to HaRav Noach Palei, the mashgiach of Rabbenu Chaim Ozer Yeshiva.

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