Chaim Kanievsky

Shmaryahu Yosef Chaim Kanievsky (Hebrew: שמריהו יוסף חיים קַניֶבסקִי; January 8, 1928 – March 18, 2022) was an Israeli Haredi rabbi and posek.[2] He was a leading authority in Haredi Jewish society on legal and ethical practice.[3][4][5] Known as the "Prince of Torah", much of his prominence came through Torah education and advice about Jewish law.[6][7]

Rabbi

Chaim Kanievsky
חיים קאניעווסקי
הגר"ח קנייבסקי בשמחת פורים.jpg
Personal
Born
Shmaryahu Yosef Chaim Kanievsky
שמריהו יוסף חיים קַניֶבסקִי

(1928-01-08)January 8, 1928
Pinsk, Poland (now Belarus)
DiedMarch 18, 2022(2022-03-18) (aged 94)
Bnei Brak, Israel
ReligionJudaism
SpouseBatsheva Esther Kanievsky
Children8[1]: 24 
ParentsYaakov Yisrael Kanievsky
(Pesaha) Miriam Karelitz

Though Kanievsky held no formal community-wide post,[8] he was the de facto head of the Lithuanian branch of Haredi Judaism, revered as a consummate scholar of Jewish law and tradition, with unimpeachable rulings.[9]

Early lifeEdit

Chaim Kanievsky was born in Pinsk, Poland (now in Belarus), to Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky, known as the "Steipler Gaon", and Miriam Karelitz (Pesha Miriam: Pesha was added[10]), sister of Avraham Yeshayahu Karelitz, known as the "Chazon Ish".[2]

When Kanievsky was six years old, the family moved to Mandatory Palestine. After his immigration, he never left the country, even briefly.[11][12] He worked hard learning Torah in his youth and was able to elucidate complicated rabbinic teachings as a young adult.[1] During the 1947–1949 Palestine war, Rav Chaim, then a student at the Lomza Yeshiva, served in the Israel Defense Forces, guarding at an outpost overlooking Jaffa.[1]

Rabbinic careerEdit

 
A visitor seeking Kanievsky's advice

Kanievsky became a major authority on all matters of Jewish law, authoring several books about Jewish legal writings.[6][13]

From the death of Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman in December 2017 until his own death, Kanievsky and Ponevezh Yeshiva head Gershon Edelstein were considered to be the leaders of the Israeli Haredi community.[14][15][16] Kanievsky was the official rabbi and spiritual guide for the non-profit organization Belev Echad, which was founded in Israel in 2011 and was dedicated to assisting sick and disabled children and adults.[13][17] He received thousands of visits every year from Jews seeking religious and Halachic advice.[18]

Kanievsky was known to study Torah 17 hours each day.[7] Eli Paley, the chairman of the Haredi Institute for Public Affairs, a Jerusalem-based research group, told The New York Times in January 2021 that Israel's Haredi Orthodox community saw "their existence as relying on Rabbi Chaim and his Torah learning".[7] He was regarded as the preeminent leader of the non-Hasidic portion of Israel's Haredi Orthodox community as well.[6]

Halakhic rulingsEdit

 
Chaim Kanievsky

In 2012, Kanievsky ruled that it is forbidden to possess or use a smartphone without individual permission from a halakhic authority, and that owners are not allowed to sell their phones, but should instead burn them.[19][20][21][22][23] In 2015, he instructed United Hatzalah paramedics that in the event of a terrorist attack, they should not treat the terrorists before the victims, even if the terrorist is more seriously injured, and they may even leave the terrorist to die.[24][25]

In 2016, Kanievsky declared that medicinal cannabis was kosher for Passover as long as the possession of the cannabis is not in violation of the law of the land.[26]

In 2017, Kanievsky ruled that reporting instances of sexual child abuse to the police is consistent with halakha (Jewish law).[27][28]

In 2011, he interpreted Arab Spring uprisings as evidence that the Messiah might be near.[29] In 2015, following the 2014 Jerusalem synagogue attack, he repeatedly referred to the imminent arrival of the Messiah, and urged diaspora Jews to make aliyah (immigrate to Israel), reportedly resulting in the arrival of a substantial number of French Jews.[30][31] In February 2020, shortly before the Israeli legislative elections, it was reported by one rabbi that Kanievsky had stated that the coming of the Messiah was possibly imminent.[32]

Covid-19Edit

 
Kanievsky in December 2021

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Kanievsky told his followers that the best ways to defeat the virus were to avoid lashon hara (gossiping about one's peers), to strengthen humility, and to place the needs of others before their own.[33] As a result of the discussion, he was visited, on March 15, by senior police officials who, with great respect, wanted to ask him of the importance of following the orders of medical professionals with regard to the outbreak.[33]

On March 29, after the ultra-Orthodox community was hit hard by the virus,[34] with Bnei Brak having a high percentage of coronavirus cases in Israel, relative to its population,[35] Kanievsky ruled that one who does not follow the Israeli Health Ministry's guidelines on COVID-19 is in the position of a rodef, i. e., one who pursues another with intent to kill, a murderer.[36] He also ruled that telephones may be answered on Shabbat to get COVID-19 test results, and that minyanim must not meet at all during the pandemic – a stricter requirement than the Health Ministry's rules, which at the time allowed congregations to meet outdoors as long as participants are at least two meters (6 feet) distant from each other.[37]

On October 2, 2020, Kanievsky was diagnosed with COVID-19.[38] On October 28, 2020, his physician said Kanievsky had recovered from the virus.[39]

Kanievsky endorsed vaccination for all, and wished experts success in the national campaign of vaccination.[40]

DeathEdit

 
Funeral for Kanievsky in March 2022

Kanievsky died at his home in Bnei Brak on March 18, 2022, at the age of 94.[41][42] Around 750,000 mourners attended his funeral on March 20, 2022, making it one of the largest funerals in Israeli history, second only to Ovadia Yosef's funeral which had more than 850,000 in October 2013.

Personal lifeEdit

Kanievsky was married to a daughter of Yosef Sholom Eliashiv, Batsheva Elyashiv. They had eight children. She died in 2011.[2]

Published worksEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Weinberger, Naftali; Weinberger, Naomi; Indig, Nina (2012). Scherman, Nosson; Zlotowitz, Meir (eds.). Rebbetzin Kanievsky: A Legendary Mother to All (2nd ed.). Mesorah Publications. ISBN 9781422612064. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "About Rabbi Chaim". Nerechad.org. Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  3. ^ "שקל שקל הישועות של גדול הדור הרב חיים קנייבסקי שליטא] הישועות של גדול הדור הרב חיים קנייבסקי שליטא". אחינו (in Hebrew). May 22, 2018.
  4. ^ "ArtScroll.com – A Gadol in Our Time: Stories about Rav Chaim Kanievsky". www.artscroll.com.
  5. ^ "Recommendations by the Gadol Hador, Rav Chaim Kanievsky, To Merit Children – Aish Haolam". Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  6. ^ a b c Hanau, Shira (March 18, 2022). "Chaim Kanievsky, Haredi Orthodox rabbi known as "Prince of Torah" ("שר התורה"), dies at 94". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  7. ^ a b c Kingsley, Patrick (January 29, 2021). "He Is Israel's "Prince of Torah". But to Some, He Is the King of Covid". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  8. ^ Kingsley, Patrick (March 20, 2022). "Revered Jewish Sage Buried in One of the Largest Gatherings in Israel's History". New York Times.
  9. ^ "Israel: Hundreds of thousands attend ultra-Orthodox rabbi's funeral". DW.COM. March 20, 2022. Retrieved March 20, 2022.
  10. ^ Israel, David (October 2, 2020). "Leader of Lithuanian Haredim Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky". The Jewish Press.
  11. ^ "Rabbi Yaakov Israel – "The Steipler"". hevratpinto.org. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  12. ^ "HaGaon Rav Chaim Kanievsky on Eretz Yisrael". blogs.timesofisrael.com. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  13. ^ a b Klein, Zvika (March 18, 2022). "Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, haredi leader, dies at 94". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  14. ^ "Jerusalem – Analysis: After Rav Shteinman Passing, Who Will Lead The Haredim". www.vosizneias.com. December 13, 2017. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  15. ^ Brown, Benjamin (September 13, 2018). "R. Hayim Kanievsky's 'Instant Responsa'". Tablet. Retrieved May 31, 2019.
  16. ^ Rabinowitz, Aaron (December 14, 2017). "94-year-old Rabbi's Eulogy Signals He Is Heir Apparent to Shteinman, Late Leader of Israel's ultra-Orthodox". Haaretz. Retrieved May 31, 2018.
  17. ^ "Virtual Judaica – Letter by 8 important rabbis, Bnei Brak 2011". www.virtualjudaica.com.
  18. ^ "Biography of Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky (born 1928) and his relationship to the Rabbi Meir Baal Haneis charity in Israel". Rabbimeirbaalhaneis.com. Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  19. ^ Ari, Judah (September 23, 2012). "Burn your iPhones, top rabbi orders". The Times of Israel. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  20. ^ "Apple's Jerusalem Problem". The Huffington Post. December 3, 2012. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  21. ^ Jeffay, Nathan (September 18, 2013). "Kosher Smart Phone Arrives as Ultra-Orthodox Tech Taboo Shifts – News –". Forward.com. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  22. ^ Ravid, Barak (April 7, 2014). "Haredi users of "non-kosher" phones revealed through security loophole". Haaretz. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  23. ^ "Rabbi: Never Marry a Man With an iPhone – Israel Today | Israel News". Israel Today. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  24. ^ Baruch, Hezki (December 31, 2015). "Rabbi Kanievsky instructs paramedics: Don't save terrorists". Israel National News. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  25. ^ Cohen, Dan (March 23, 2016). "Israeli medics are leaving wounded Palestinians to bleed to death". Mondoweiss.net. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  26. ^ Vulliamy, Elsa (April 22, 2016). "Marijuana is kosher for Passover, leading rabbi rules". The Independent. Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  27. ^ "Leading Haredi rabbi says sexual abuse should be reported to police". Jpost.com. Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  28. ^ ralph (February 26, 2015). "Video: Rav Chaim Kanievsky on Molester: "Logically, He Should Be Reported to Police"". Matzav.com. Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  29. ^ Nahshoni, Kobi (February 23, 2011). "Ynetnews Jewish Scene – 'Arab unrest signals Messiah's coming'". Ynetnews. Ynetnews.com. Retrieved February 13, 2017.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  30. ^ "Leading Israeli Rabbi Kanievsky Gives New Clue to Final Messianic Coming – Israel News". Breakingisraelnews.com. August 19, 2015. Retrieved February 13, 2017.
  31. ^ Berkowitz, Adam Eliyahu (July 3, 2015). "Leading Israeli Rabbi Says the Arrival of the Messiah is Imminent". Breaking Israel News | Latest News. Biblical Perspective. Retrieved March 5, 2020.
  32. ^ Jones, Ryan (February 20, 2020). "Israeli Rabbi Says He's Already Holding Meetings With Messiah". Israel Today. Archived from the original on February 28, 2020. Retrieved March 5, 2020.
  33. ^ a b Magid, Jacob (March 15, 2020). "Police bid to convince rabbi to close yeshivas as his sect defies virus rules". The Times of Israel. Retrieved April 7, 2020.
  34. ^ Rabinowitz, Aaron (April 1, 2020). "One Third of Coronavirus Tests in ultra-Orthodox City in Central Israel Return Positive". Haaretz. Retrieved April 7, 2020.
  35. ^ "Bnei Brak is turning into Italy, almost every Chareidi is infected". The Yeshiva World. March 29, 2020. Archived from the original on April 6, 2020. Retrieved April 7, 2020.
  36. ^ "הרבֿ חיים קניבסקי שליט״א גיט פּסקים וועגן קאָראָנאַ־ווירוס". The Forward (in Hebrew). March 30, 2020. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  37. ^ Rabinowitz, Aaron (March 30, 2020). "Israel's prominent rabbi orders praying alone to stem coronavirus spread in Haredi community". Haaretz. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  38. ^ "Top ultra-Orthodox Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, 92, tests positive for coronavirus". The Times of Israel. October 2, 2020. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  39. ^ "Prominent ultra-Orthodox rabbi Kanievsky free from coronavirus, says doctor". The Times of Israel. October 28, 2020. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  40. ^ Greenwood, Hanan (November 26, 2021). "Haredi sage Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky endorses COVID vaccination for kids". Israel Hayom. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  41. ^ Rabinowitz, Aaron (March 18, 2022). "Leader of Lithuanian ultra-Orthodox Community Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky Dies at 94". Haaretz. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  42. ^ "Leading Haredi rabbi Kanievsky collapses, undergoing CPR". The Times of Israel. March 18, 2022. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  43. ^ קניבסקי, שמריהו יוסף חיים, 1928. "דרך חכמה – קניבסקי, שמריהו יוסף חיים, 1928– (page 1 of 123)". Hebrewbooks.org. Retrieved February 13, 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

External linksEdit