Thousands of bnei Torah, headed by maranan
verabonon, gedolei haTorah vehamusar, roshei yeshiva,
dayanim and rabbonim accompanied the righteous Rebbetzin
Leah Karelitz, o"h, on her last earthy journey on 13
Shevat. Eishes chover to HaRav Chaim Shaul Karelitz,
shlita, the ga'avad of Shearis Yisroel, she
was niftar at the age of 78 after a difficult
Rebbetzin Karelitz, daughter of Reb Yehoshua Berger, was
born on 15 Tishrei, 5683 (1922). When she was only five, her
mother passed away. Every erev Shabbos, the tender
orphan would be blessed and encouraged by her illustrious
great-grandfather, HaRav Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld. She grew up
in the home of her mother's sister, Rebbetzin Chaya
Kopshitz, who raised her as her own.
Her noble personality was fashioned in this home, where she
was imbued with the pure aspiration of building a genuine
Torah home. Her excellent middos were well known,
notably her trait of simplicity and being satisfied with
little. These traits were part and parcel of her character
to her final day.
When she came of age, she married HaRav Chaim Shaul
Karelitz, one of the Torah world's finest talmidei
chachomim, an outstanding student of HaRav Boruch Ber
Lebowitz as well as one of the leading students in the
Petach Tikva Lomza yeshiva. Their wedding was held in the
home of the Steipler Rav and was attended by the Chazon
Immediately after their wedding they went to live in Petach
Tikvah, where HaRav Karelitz continued to pore over his
Torah studies in the Toras Eretz Yisroel kollel. Together
they built a Torah home whose walls were saturated with pure
yiras Shomayim. Despite the great poverty they
suffered at times, they continued to devote themselves to
Torah and avodas Hashem.
In time, the Chazon Ish asked HaRav Karelitz to preside as
rav and moreh tzeddek for the bnei Torah
community of Petach Tikvah, but HaRav Karelitz replied that
he wished to continue to study Torah undisturbed. In 5715
(1955) he moved to Bnei Brak, near his mother's home.
HaRav Karelitz' home in Bnei Brak rapidly became a focal
point for the broken and oppressed who found there comfort
and solace. With great mesirus nefesh, the rebbetzin
fulfilled the words of Rav Yossi ben Yochanan Ish
Yerushalayim in Pirkei Ovos, "Open your home wide and
let the paupers be members of your household."
A symbol of modesty and simplicity, the Rebbetzin related to
this word as merely a transitory one in which one needn't
invest anything. She believed that one should invest all
one's strengths and resources in the spiritual world and in
raising children to Torah and yiras Shomayim. She
would daven profusely, pleading that she merit to
raise her children to Torah and that she produce generations
of talmidei chachomim.
Her dedication to her husband is legendary: throughout all
the years he presided as a rav and throughout all the sacred
battles he waged as the shaliach of maranan
verabonon, among them the Kehillos Yaakov, zt"l,
and Maran the gaon HaRav Eliezer Menachem Shach,
shlita she stood faithfully at his side.
When Maran HaRav Shach directed her husband to accept the
position of ga'avad of Shearis Yisroel and the
supervision of all Shearis Torah activity -- including a
beis horo'oh, a beis din and a kashrus network
-- she continued to serve as his right hand.
She conducted her home as a true woman of valor, so that
even when they were on the verge of penury, her illustrious
husband was able to remain in Torah learning and share his
vast spiritual treasures with the bnei Torah of our
During recent years she endured harsh suffering.
Nonetheless, she justified the din and accepted all
of her suffering with love, without ever complaining about
her situation. In her final months, when she was
hospitalized in critical condition, doctors would ask her
how she felt, and she would reply, "Boruch Hashem,
During recent years, her eyesight seriously deteriorated.
But she never forgot her tefillos, and for many hours
would daven word for word from a large-print
On erev Shabbos parshas Bo she lost consciousness,
and early in the morning of Tuesday, 13 Shevat, returned her
pure soul, which had been refined by suffering, to its
The levaya, leaving from her home, was attended by
thousands of Bnei Brak residents, headed by HaRav Aharon
Leib Steinman, HaRav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz, HaRav Nissim
Karelitz, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, dayanim, rabbonim and
thousands of bnei Torah.
Before the procession left from the Chazon Ish Kollel,
hespedim were delivered by HaRav Moshe Aharon
Rosental, HaRav Avrohom Kopshitz, HaRav Eliezer Dunner and
HaRav Yehoshua Shklar.
The maspidim stressed the spiritual greatness of the
nifteres, a link between past and current
generations; a woman who nullified herself totally before
her illustrious husband and was a model of simplicity and
The levaya set out by foot from the Chazon Ish Kollel
to the Beis Meir yeshiva where HaRav Zalman Rotberg and
HaRav Tzvi Rotberg delivered hespedim..
The levaya then proceeded to the Bnei Brak Netzivei
Ponovezh cemetery where she was buried.
She is survived by her husband, HaRav Chaim Shaul Karelitz,
by sons who are talmidei chachomim and daughters who
are married to talmidei chachomim and by
grandchildren and great-grandchildren, all of whom are
firmly rooted in Beis Hashem, and are continuing to
uphold the spiritual legacy she bequeathed to them.