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7 Cheshvan 5762 - October 24, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Opinion & Comment
The Entire Maseches Brochos in Two Hours!

by R' Zvi Yabrov

Forty-eight years have passed since the demise of the father and teacher of all Jewry, Maran the Chazon Ish ztvk'l on 15 Marcheshvon. He put his stamp upon every facet of Torah, and his lasting impression is present in every aspect of life. Countless stories are told, and will yet reverberate for generations to come, about his incredible toil in Torah, his assiduous and pure yiras Shomayim, the depth of his noble character traits and the scope of his intellect and wisdom of heart.

We have asked R' Zvi Yabrov, author of the series of works Maase Ish, to delineate for us several facts and vignettes that have not yet seen print, so that they can provide us with new insights, lessons and wisdom.


A kollel fundraiser of yore, for what is today the Kollel Chazon Ish, once asked the Chazon Ish, "Why do people repeatedly tell me to `come tomorrow'? Will these people be any richer on the following day?"

The Chazon Ish replied, "Those people still need the three [daily] prayers in order to be worthy of giving!"

(HaGaon R' Yaakov Galinsky shlita)


It was once imperative for the father of the Chazon Ish, R' Shmaryohu Yosef Karelitz zt'l, av beis din of Kosova, to eat on Yom Kippur. He ate ten minutes before sundown (which was the maximum time allowed him to fast). He did not wait for the stars to come out.

(HaRav Chaim Kanievsky shlita who heard it from the Chazon Ish)


HaRav Chaim Kanievsky was once witness to an amazing scene: It was before daybreak and the Chazon Ish lay in bed, berating himself loudly, "You lazy one! Why are you lying there?"

Immediately afterwards, he leaped out of bed.


A bochur once came to the Chazon Ish with a question. Since he was an orphan, he had an obligation to daven before the omud. But another person in the yeshiva apparently also had such an obligation and would be given preference. He preferred remaining in yeshiva, where the prayers were measuredly slow, allowing for the proper concentration, but if he sought a different shul, he would be able to lead the davening. However, there, the prayers would be faster paced. What should he do?

The Chazon Ish replied: "You are better off praying at a leisurely pace in yeshiva, where you will be able to recite Kaddish [at any rate], than leading the prayers at a rapid pace elsewhere!"

(Source: word of mouth)


When he was a child, R' Chaim Kanievsky asked him which was the most difficult tractate in Shas. The Chazon Ish was thoughtful for a moment and replied, "Kesuvos."

He was then asked which perek he found most challenging in all of Shas. His reply: "Kirah!"

R' Chaim saw Rabbenu review the entire tractate of Brochos in about two hours. He did not mouth the words but skimmed across the pages with his eyes, without taking in Rashi and Tosafos.


R' Yisroel Yosef Shapira zt'l once came to the Chazon Ish before sunrise. The Chazon Ish was pacing the floor, deeply engrossed in study, when along came a rabbi from Tel Aviv, suggesting his own explanation of a controversy between Abaye and Rovo on a certain subject, with a somewhat forced explanation. The Chazon Ish was not particularly pleased with it and he smiled indulgently, "When I `hear' Abaye and Rovo talking, I am able to enjoy it even if I can't understand exactly what they're saying."

(From his son, HaRav Moshe Arye)


HaRav Avrohom Rapoport zt'l once spent a summer vacation together with a group of Novardok yeshiva students in Tzfas in the company of the Chazon Ish. For the first few days they had the privilege of being joined by the Chazon Ish for the davening, but suddenly he stopped coming. The bochur attending the Chazon Ish had no inkling of the reason. He just knew that the Chazon Ish remained in his room during this time with a wet towel wound around his head while he kept pacing the floor.

After about three days, the Chazon Ish resumed his prayers with the yeshiva students. Extremely curious, the students pressed the attending bochur to find out the reason for the absence.

It turned out that the Chazon Ish had encountered difficulty in understanding a passage in the commentary of the Vilna Gaon. He had toiled over it arduously for those three days with a wet towel wound around his head until he finally overcame the intellectual obstacle and understood the Gra.


R' Zev Kibel shlita tells: "I once came to ask the Chazon Ish a halachic question: my Rabbenu Tam tefillin had fallen to the ground. He questioned me about what I do and I said I studied in a kollel.

"`Put a few coins into a tzedokoh box,' he answered. That would suffice. I was not required to fast, he ruled, since this would interfere with my Torah study. I noted again that the tefillin were `only' Rabbenu Tam.

"His reaction was swift and vehement: `What? Do you think that Rabbenu Tam's tefillin are any less holy than Rashi's?'"

(From HaRav Moshe Arye Shapira who heard it from the firsthand source)


As a child, Rabbenu was learning a passage in gemora dealing with an animal that died. He translated the term into the Yiddish as peigert, which is a derogatory slang term for death [like `bite the dust' or `kick the bucket'], instead of the more acceptable term. His rebbe corrected him and told him to use the finer term [even though only an animal was involved].

(From HaRav Chaim Kanievsky)


HaRav Yisroel Yosef Shapira was present when the following took place:

Children used to stand in line when the Chazon Ish made havdoloh to get a taste of the wine, which he obligingly gave out. The daughter of one of his disciples once joined the line of little boys but her father hastened to rebuke her, "If you drink from that wine, you will grow a beard."

The Chazon Ish heard the remark and smiled, "That's what der veldt says. But der veldt is wrong. It's the other way 'round. It isn't the one who drinks the havdoloh wine who grows a beard. Rather, one who grows a beard is the one who drinks the wine!"

(From his son, R' Moshe Arye Shapira)


HaRav Yaakov Steinharter tells:

I remember that once an entire class from a certain Bnei Brak cheder came to the Chazon Ish to be tested, accompanied by their rebbe. They all sat together in one room, waiting to be heard individually. Before addressing each child, the Chazon Ish first turned to the rebbe and inquired, "Can this student be asked?"

If he understood from the rebbe that this was a weak child, he would either skip him altogether or ask him a very simple question.


R' Yisroel Yosef Shapira was employed in a certain profession but received a very meager salary. He once came to the Chazon Ish deploring his financial situation. He advised, "If that's the way things are, why don't you find a job with diamonds?"

"But the diamond business is doing very poorly now," he complained.

The Chazon Ish reassured him that it would soon make a comeback. And so it was.

(He had been working at nikur, removing the forbidden sciatica nerve from the hindquarters of slaughtered animals. He was adept at cutting and chiseling and the Chazon Ish intuited that he would do well at cutting and polishing diamonds as well.)

(From his son, R' Moshe Arye Shapira)


R' Yosef Weinberg z'l once asked the Chazon Ish's advice about opening a slaughterhouse. How much should he invest in the venture to make it worthwhile and how much profit could he expect? The Chazon Ish discussed the various aspects of the business and then added, "Regarding profit, you must take the chicken feathers into account."

R' Weinberg was surprised. "Feathers? They have no value. Chicken feathers are thrown away!"

"Don't be so hasty to discount feathers," replied the Chazon Ish.

R' Yosef went ahead and opened his slaughterhouse. Not long afterwards, a Jew approached him and offered him a large sum for his feathers. Why did he need chicken feathers, of all things?

It seems that at the time, when it was generally illegal to own dollars, the government permitted exporters to buy dollars through the bank if they showed proof of a transaction. This Jew found it worth his while to "export" chicken feathers -- which he dumped overboard as soon as the ship was out at sea -- for the right to buy dollars legally. These, he later sold on the black market for a huge profit.

R' Chaim Kanievsky added that if the Chazon Ish declared that something had to be taken into account, like the feathers in this particular case, then it was so, merely by virtue of his having uttered the statement. He said -- and it came into being!

(HaRav Eliyohu Mann who heard it from R' Yosef's grandson)


What is more preferable on the night of Shavuos -- to study Torah or to recite the Tikkun?

R' Chaim Kanievsky told of a man who once came to the Chazon Ish with this question. "Go and study Torah!" ordered the Chazon Ish.

Shortly afterwards, another Jew came to him with the identical question and the Chazon Ish said, "Recite the Tikkun."

"I was present throughout," testifies R' Chaim Kanievsky, "and heard the two contrary replies. I was very surprised, but upon thinking about it, I realized that the Chazon Ish knew both people and their differences. The second one was a man who recited the Tikkun each year but somehow, a doubt had arisen in his mind this year if he had been doing the right thing all along. The Chazon Ish told him to continue his practice as in previous years.

"The situation with the other man was precisely the opposite; he had never recited the Tikkun in past years. He had learned Torah throughout but suddenly feared that he might not have been doing the right thing. The Chazon Ish urged him to continue as he had been doing in past years -- to study."


R' Avrohom Wertheimer relates:

I was the contractor who built the old beis midrash in the Vishnitz neighborhood of Bnei Brak. As excavations were being made for the foundations, the body of a man was uncovered. The question immediately arose whether it was permissible to reinter it elsewhere and continue with the construction.

I accompanied the present-day Admor of Vishnitz shlita to the Chazon Ish who stated, If I am not mistaken, the sugya at the end of maseches Nozir which there deals with bodies that had been found says that it must be three bodies to bear out the fact that the site must once have been a graveyard for burial. In this case, however, since only one body had been unearthed, there was no need to go digging to see if there were any more.


The Chazon Ish once traveled to Petach Tikva with R' Zelig Shapira z'l to serve as sandak at a bris. They picked up HaRav Yosef Dinkles zt'l en route and indicated that he sit in the middle, with the Chazon Ish to his left and R' Zelig to his right.

The Chazon Ish nodded and said, "That will be in perfect order: Kohen, Levi and Yisroel."

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