| Magazine Feature |

No Compromises on Rechov Rashbam

Rav Chaim Kanievsky remains a beacon of clarity in a stormy world. The inside perspective of Rabbi Shai Graucher, who’s brought Rav Chaim’s wisdom to the English-speaking public

Photos: Elchanan Kotler, Family Archives

 

Erev Succos, 5781. If the global COVID crisis wasn’t enough to mar the rejoicing of the upcoming Yom Tov, the news that rapidly spread across the Jewish world sowed worry and distress. The dreaded virus, the insidious and invisible foe that has wreaked havoc across the planet for the last half year, had infected Rav Chaim Kanievsky.

For months, Rav Chaim had been cloistered in a veritable germ-free fortress, as his family took extraordinary precautions to ward off the disease. The select few who came in contact with him were duly masked and disinfected before they could approach him, while plastic partitions shielded him from the rest of the world. But somehow, the virus managed to slip past their carefully erected defenses. Rav Chaim’s health had been monitored vigilantly, and the family grew alarmed when his daily temperature check revealed that he was running a low-grade fever. A coronavirus test was rapidly administered, and the positive result was soon received.

While the physician treating Rav Chaim released a statement that the Sar HaTorah recovered, prayers for continued health and well-being of Rav Shmaryahu Yosef Chaim ben Pesha Miriam are still on the lips of thousands. Yet in the midst of the month-long panic and commotion regarding his health, one man remained an oasis of tranquility, completely unfazed by the worry that held so many in its grip.

That man, of course, was Rav Chaim Kanievsky himself.

Rabbi Shai Graucher, a popular author who has brought Rav Chaim’s teachings to the English-speaking public (in works such as his five-volume Rav Chaim Kanievsky on Chumash and Rav Chaim Kanievsky on Zemiros), is a member of Rav Chaim’s inner circle and a fixture in his home, serving as a conduit for countless communications with the gadol. On Erev Succos, he was present during those dramatic moments on Rechov Rashbam.

“I make an effort to daven at least one tefillah with the Rav every day of the year,” Rabbi Graucher relates. “From Rosh Chodesh Elul through Hoshana Rabbah, I’d leave my home in Yerushalayim at 4 a.m. every morning to drive to Bnei Brak, where I davened at the Rav’s vasikin minyan in his home. When I arrived on the morning of Erev Succos, I sensed immediately that something was wrong. There was a palpable tension in the air, but Rav Chaim himself seemed removed from it all. He sat in his usual place, wrapped in his tallis and tefillin and davened as he did on any other day, pronouncing every word clearly and meticulously. When we finished davening, I was informed that the Rav had been diagnosed with corona. I watched in awe as he began his daily regimen of learning without giving the slightest indication that anything had changed. It was like any other Erev Succos: Dozens of esrogim of every possible variety were laid out on the table in preparation for Yom Tov, and the Rav was blissfully immersed in Torah study.”

A couple of hours later, a statement was issued informing the public of Rav Chaim’s condition and asking them to daven for his recovery. This triggered an avalanche of concerned phone calls and messages from all over the world. “My phone didn’t stop ringing,” Reb Shai recalls. “People were calling from places where it was still the middle of the night. Everyone wanted to find out about Rav Chaim’s welfare, and everyone wanted to know what they could do as a zechus for his recovery.”

To Reb Shai, who has served as the go-between for countless people seeking Rav Chaim’s counsel or blessings, there was no question as to what lay behind the outpouring of concern: The myriads that had benefited from Rav Chaim’s wisdom and blessings in the past had seized the opportunity to repay at least a fraction of his kindness. He had done so much for them; now they could finally do something, as small as it was, for him — by davening for his recovery or undertaking kabbalos for his benefit.

Start Writing

If Shai Graucher’s last name sounds familiar, there’s good reason. Shai is the son of Reb Oded David Graucher, better known as “Dedi,” the popular singer who has entertained and inspired for over a generation. But while his father was serenading audiences with the power of his voice, Reb Shai and his siblings soaked in a different type of music in their Petach Tikvah home: the song of Torah.

“My parents raised us with a very clear set of priorities,” Reb Shai says. “In spite of his success as a performer, my father always emphasized the idea that his music, along with everything else in this world, came second, and that our spiritual lives were of primary importance.”

It is easy to see how the famous singer’s son has has modeled his own life after his parents’ priorities. Both of his parents are prolific baalei chesed, and in his earlier years, Shai was often at his father’s side when he traveled to hospitals to perform for the patients; today, Shai carries that chesed forward by placing himself at the disposal of anyone seeking guidance from Rav Chaim Kanievsky.

“I learned from my father that when it comes to chesed, there are no questions,” he remarks. “Whenever my father’s asked to put on a charity performance or use his talents in some other way, he doesn’t think twice about it. So when someone calls me because they need to get in touch with Rav Chaim, I drop everything and hurry to Bnei Brak to consult with him.”

This is practically a daily occurrence for Shai Graucher. “One time,” he says, “I had just returned from davening Shacharis with the Rav. I arrived back at my home in Yerushalayim at 10:00 in the morning, and at 10:15 I received a telephone call from my chavrusa. His wife was in the delivery room experiencing serious complications.”

Rebbetzin Batsheva Kanievsky, who was still alive then, used to give some of the Rav’s esrog jam to women who were having difficulties during labor. Rabbi Graucher knew immediately what he had to do: He sped back to Bnei Brak, parking outside the legendary apartment on Rechov Rashbam. It took only a minute for him to procure a small quantity of the jam, which the Rebbetzin kept carefully packaged in her freezer, and then he hit the road again, rushing into Shaare Zedek medical center with the precious jam in hand. At 12:15, just two hours after that initial panicked phone call, a healthy baby was born without any medical intervention.

Shai’s personal attachment to Rav Chaim is also the product of family tradition. “Reverence and respect for talmidei chachamim are in my blood,” he says. “My mother’s father, Meir Sand, owned a hotel in Miami where he used to host Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky every summer. My father’s father was a chavrusa of the Beis Yisrael of Gur. Both of them had enormous reverence for gedolei Yisrael, and that legacy was passed on to their children and grandchildren.” Reb Shai’s full name is Yeshayahu Yechiel Meir — the name of both those grandfathers. And along with their names, he has clearly absorbed their mindsets.

He was fifteen when he first met Rav Chaim in person, but Rav Chaim was his “hero” long before. “You might have expected my childhood bedroom to be decorated with posters showing pictures of music stars, but I had a large picture of Rav Chaim instead, which covered almost an entire wall,” he recalls. When he finally encountered the gadol in person, he felt an instant connection.

The bochur approached Rav Chaim and requested a brachah. “A brachah for what?” Rav Chaim asked.

“To be a good Yid,” Shai replied.

“Sit and learn, and you will see tremendous things,” Rav Chaim said.

At first, Shai found this response difficult to assimilate. “I didn’t know where to begin,” he says. “I said, ‘I don’t learn very much — what should I do?’

“Rav Chaim replied simply, ‘Tichtov. Write a lot.’ Baruch Hashem, I listened to the Rav, and I’ve been writing ever since.”


The Time Has Come

Reb Shai’s writing career began with a translation of Iggeres HaGra, a project he was inspired to undertake by his regular visits to the grave of the Vilna Gaon. He credits Rabbi Gedaliah Zlotowitz of ArtScroll with encouraging his career at the time, as well as effusively supporting the initiative to publish Rav Chaim’s Torah. He also gives credit to his wife, who cares for their children while encouraging her husband to pour his energies into the preparation of his seforim and happily allowing him to dedicate countless hours to the community.

Today, the dynamic and tireless Shai Graucher is the author of 22 seforim, many of which are part of his groundbreaking effort to bring Rav Chaim Kanievsky’s teachings to the English-speaking world. This project, which began only a couple of years ago, has already spawned an English translation of Rav Chaim’s renowned mussar sefer, Orchos Yosher, followed by a five-volume set of Rav Chaim’s chiddushim on the parshah, as well as the latest installment, Rav Chaim Kanievsky on Zemiros. Reb Shai is also enthusiastic about the next volume in this project, due to be released soon, which will feature Rav Chaim’s insights on Tehillim.

The publication of Rav Chaim’s teachings in English came after many years of the Rav adamantly refusing to permit it. “For years, various people, myself included, have been trying to persuade Rav Chaim to allow his writings and chiddushim to be translated,” Reb Shai relates. “A couple of years ago, he finally relented. I’d pointed out that the Orchos Yosher is a highly popular sefer that almost every frum boy receives for his bar mitzvah, yet many American boys can’t understand a word of it.” Rav Chaim finally agreed that the time had come.

As soon as Rav Chaim’s permission was secured, Reb Shai plunged headlong into the endeavor. “I worked practically around the clock, together with the rest of the staff, translating the sefer into English and adding relevant insights and anecdotes. Three months later, the translation of Orchos Yosher was ready for publication. When we brought the sefer to Rav Chaim, he was deeply moved. Even though he doesn’t like foreign languages, he accepted it with great pleasure, clearly understanding its potential for a massive impact.”

When the first volume of Rav Chaim’s chiddushim on Chumash was completed, Reb Shai brought a copy to the Rav once again. In a video taken on that moving occasion, Reb Shai poses a question: Considering that the author of a sefer containing his own chiddusim recites Shehecheyanu when it is published, should he also recite Shehecheyanu on the publication of this sefer, even though the chiddushim are not his own?

“It depends if you are happy,” Rav Chaim replies.

“We are very happy!” Reb Shai exclaims with visible excitement.

Rav Chaim then indicates that the brachah should indeed be recited.

Reb Shai is not the only person who appreciates Rabbi Zlotowitz’s involvement in the monumental project of publishing Rav Chaim’s Torah. Rav Chaim himself has referred to ArtScroll’s director as one of the premier marbitzei Torah of our generation.

“When Rabbi Zlotowitz visits Rav Chaim, he’s always received with the utmost warmth and respect,” Reb Shai reveals. “He brings Rav Chaim volumes of the Schottenstein Yerushalmi and the Ryzman Mishnayos as they are released, and Rav Chaim responds with glowing praise. Rav Chaim values him deeply for his contribution to Torah study throughout the world, and the Yerushalmi project is especially important to him, as he considers its study invaluable.

“In fact,” Reb Shai adds, “when people ask Rav Chaim for the brachah of wealth, he often tells them to learn Yerushalmi. I’ve personally seen people become extraordinarily affluent after following his advice.”

The entire Kanievsky family relates to Rabbi Zlotowitz and his publishing company with deep, abiding respect, knowing that they’ll do justice to and accurately represent his teachings. And this implicit trust in Rabbi Zlotowitz led to an unprecedented development at the Siyum HaShas last winter, when Rav Chaim appeared on a live video transmission screened at the massive event in MetLife stadium.

“At first, someone offered to pay a fortune to fly Rav Chaim to America, just to make it possible for him to attend the Siyum HaShas for a few minutes,” Reb Shai relates. “They felt that it would have been an enormous boost for the American community. But as always, Rav Chaim could not be budged from his principles. He never leaves Eretz Yisrael, and he saw no reason to make an exception in this case.

“Nevertheless,” Reb Shai continues, “Rabbi Zlotowitz and I urged the family to arrange for Rav Chaim to make a remote appearance at the Siyum HaShas in MetLife Stadium. Rabbi Zlotowitz spoke to the family on behalf of American Agudah, and they finally agreed to allow the video link to be set up. It was a powerful experience for the crowd to witness Rav Chaim on the screen. Out of all the events around the world celebrating the completion of the daf yomi cycle, this was the only one in which Rav Chaim’s voice was actually heard by the crowd as he recited Kaddish.”

Deciphering the Blessings

Reb Shai’s initial encounter with Rav Chaim at age 15 was only the first step on a long journey that would span many years to come. While he is a member of Rav Chaim’s inner circle today, it is a relationship that didn’t happen instantly.

“I used to write to him very often with questions,” Reb Shai relates, “and then, when I came and identified myself by name, he would say, ‘Mukar li hashem — the name sounds familiar.’” Rav Chaim Kanievsky’s entire world, Shai explains, is circumscribed by the Torah. When he is familiar with a person, it’s because their connection somehow relates to the Torah itself.

As a bochur in yeshivah, Shai would sacrifice his bein hazmanim vacation to spend time at Rav Chaim’s side. “While most of my friends went on trips or to camps, I spent the days in Rav Chaim Kanievsky’s home in Bnei Brak,” he says. “I would help the Rebbetzin with her pots and pans, and I would simply watch Rav Chaim in awe. I observed the way he davened and I attended the brissim where he served as sandek. I was present many times at his siyum on the entire Torah on Erev Pesach, which is always an awe-inspiring sight. And I would stand there on Rosh Hashanah and watch as thousands of Jews of all kinds filed past Rav Chaim to receive his brachah.

“Keep in mind,” Shai points out, “that Rav Chaim doesn’t deliver rousing speeches or even talk a lot. The only thing these people wanted was to see him, just to catch a glimpse of him. That alone is an enormous privilege. In fact, I have a friend who lives in the States and often visits Israel. He always tells me that merely visiting Rav Chaim’s home is itself a tremendous privilege, and actually seeing the Rav is an added privilege, like dessert. And receiving his unique trademark brachah of ‘Buha’ [Rav Chaim’s famous acronym for brachah vehatzlachah] is like the cherry on top. When people realize the immense power and privilege of being in the presence of a great talmid chacham, they can reap tremendous siyata d’Shmaya.”

The centrality of having a rav in one’s life, says Rabbi Shai Graucher, is one of the most pivotal underpinnings of Judaism. “A rav isn’t just a figure who dispenses brachos, but someone who should be the source of a derech hachayim — his guidance and personal example should inform every aspect of a person’s life. There are so many quarrels and disputes that could have been resolved if the people had turned to their rabbanim for guidance,” he insists, noting that this understanding is often missing.

Moreover, Reb Shai asserts, when a person’s faith in a rav is solid and unshakable, the rav will be blessed with the Divine assistance he needs in order to resolve the person’s troubles. He adds that this concept is the key to deciphering an enigmatic aspect of Rav Chaim’s conduct — the inconsistent responses that he often gives to similar questions.

“Rav Chaim once received a letter in which he was asked why he often gives different answers to various people who ask the same question,” Reb Shai explains. “For instance, many people who are in need of the same yeshuah might receive drastically different answers from Rav Chaim — one person will be told to do one thing, while another person will be told to do something else entirely. In a powerful eight-word response, Rav Chaim wrote simply, ‘K’fi mah shenosnim b’fi min haShamayim ani oneh — I respond in accordance with what is placed in my mouth from Heaven.’

“He isn’t a baba or a mekubal who interprets people’s names or divines their actions and the spiritual tikkunim they need to perform,” Shai stresses. “It’s that the power of his Torah gives him enormous siyata d’Shmaya, and when questions are brought to him, the correct answers are placed in his mouth. The Rav himself says he doesn’t even know why.”

Reb Shai describes a recent series of questions that Rav Chaim received on a typical day. “One morning, at sunrise, I received a phone call from a person who had been hospitalized in Shaare Zedek with coronavirus. He wanted me to ask Rav Chaim what kabbalah he could undertake for a recovery. I relayed the question to Rav Chaim, and he said that the person should recite ten kapitlach of Tehillim.

“Forty minutes later, my phone rang again. The caller was in Ichilov Hospital, tensely awaiting emergency surgery for his child. Once again, I gave the name to the Rav, and I received the same response: ‘Tell him to recite ten chapters of Tehillim.’”

This scenario repeated itself several times, and each caller in turn was given the same response: to recite ten chapters of Tehillim. By the time the seventh call arrived, another person might have thought that it would be superfluous to present the question to Rav Chaim again. What would be the point of repeating a question that had already been answered half a dozen times? Wasn’t it clear by now that anyone in distress that day should recite ten chapters of Tehillim?

“The last call came from a 55-year-old nonreligious man whose wife was about to have an operation,” Shai relates. “Like everyone else, this man wanted to know what resolution he could make in order to guarantee that the surgery would be a success. This time, the Rav had a different answer: He should learn Gemara.”

This response was especially astounding in light of the fact that the man was not religious and had never opened a Gemara before. As if to make his answer even more baffling, Rav Chaim added a detail: He should study Maseches Zevachim, a tractate that is far beyond the comprehension of a novice.

“The man protested that he had no experience with learning and he didn’t understand how he could do it, but it was impossible to budge Rav Chaim,” Shai relates. “That was simply the answer that came out.” The man saw no choice but to comply with Rav Chaim’s advice, and he recruited a chavrusa and began learning Zevachim. Sure enough, his wife had a miraculous recovery.

What imbues Rav Chaim’s words with such incredible power? According to Rabbi Graucher, the emunas chachamim of his questioners is a crucial ingredient. “When Rav Chaim says something, I take it with the utmost seriousness,” says Reb Shai. “A woman once called and told me that her daughter had already been waiting for seven years to find her zivug, and they were desperate for the Rav’s brachah. When I told this to Rav Chaim, he responded, ‘B’karov.’” Reb Shai felt so confident with the answer that he even advised the woman to order a sheitel for her daughter. To the degree to which a person has faith in a Torah sage, Reb Shai declares, the Rav’s proclamations have the power to create reality.

Three Pillars

There is another trait that Reb Shai identifies as a salient part of Rav Chaim’s personality: his resolute adherence to the dictates of halachah, which in fact encompasses all other factors. This is an attitude that shapes Rav Chaim’s own life as well, both in his meticulous adherence to halachah and in his famous “chovos,” the self-imposed, highly intensive daily quotas of learning that enable him to complete the entire Torah once a year. One of Rav Chaim’s sons once related, “My father has several characteristics that led him to become the ‘prince of Torah’ and the gadol hador. The two most important are his organization and his tenacity. He is extremely organized and has enormous resolve. When he decides that he must do something, such as completing a particular masechta or perek, nothing in the world can deter him from that goal. That powerful resolve enables him to shut the material world completely out of his mind. His focus on his spiritual advancement is so intense and exclusive that when he finishes eating, he can’t even remember what he ate. It used to be our mother’s job to notify him of the proper brachah acharonah after every meal, since he had no idea what foods he’d just eaten.”

Although we tend to associate Rav Chaim Kanievsky with encyclopedic Torah knowledge, complete immersion in learning, and rigorous discipline, there is another dimension of his persona not as frequently explored: his abundant acts of chesed.

Rav Chaim Kanievsky observes all of the dictates of the Torah to the fullest, and it is only natural that he is meticulous about the mandate of chesed as well. For example, one year, when Rosh Hashanah was followed by Shabbos, a man who lived in a different city rented a hotel room in Bnei Brak for the entire three days in order to daven together with Rav Chaim on Rosh Hashanah. On Friday night, the visitor approached Rav Chaim with a quandary. “I have only one challah remaining in my possession,” he related. “Should I bring a challah from elsewhere for lechem mishneh, even though I don’t usually carry in the streets on Shabbos, or should I forgo the mitzvah of lechem mishneh this week?”

Rav Chaim had a startling solution: “You should be my guest for the seudos of Shabbos!”

The visitor spent an unforgettable Shabbos as a guest at Rav Chaim’s table, as his illustrious host made sure that he was served a proper array of food at each meal.

Rav Chaim spends countless hours responding to letters, answering sh’eilos, dispensing brachos, and davening for people in need of his prayers. And Reb Shai himself plays a key role in facilitating much of that.

“I receive between 20 and 40 phone calls a day from people who need something from the Rav, be it a brachah or the answer to a sh’eilah — about shidduchim, what to name a baby, all sorts of things. Since corona began, it can be up to 60 calls every day. Many people are afraid to go to the hospital without receiving a brachah from Rav Chaim.”

Reb Shai displays a picture of Rav Chaim Kanievsky holding a piece of paper with a complete name printed on it in large letters. “People get a major emotional boost from seeing these pictures of Rav Chaim davening for them. Many patients in the hospital have pasted these pictures on the walls of their rooms. I constantly receive messages from people who are overflowing with gratitude for Rav Chaim’s tefillos.”

Throughout our conversation, Reb Shai’s phone vibrates incessantly with incoming messages. The device seems to have almost as much energy as Reb Shai himself, who exudes an electric blend of enthusiasm and passion. Reb Shai displays a sampling of the messages he receives, a potpourri of missives that cross his screen every day. On a ventilator. Needs nissim…. No words of appreciation. Unbelievable. You don’t know how moved they were by the tefillos of the Rav…. We have the number one doctor in Israel doing the surgery but we need tefillos desperately! … The operation was successful, baruch Hashem…. I’m showing everybody the picture hanging on the hospital wall…. Amazing how you make people happy…. Shai, it’s very urgent, we need miracles…. You’re a good man….

The Jewish people have many needs, and Shai Graucher is positioned at that critical nexus where he can serve so many of them: the intersection between Klal Yisrael and their venerated spiritual leader, the man whose frail shoulders bear the weight of his nation’s burden as his eyes sparkle with that mysterious, profound wisdom that is uniquely his.

In the Shadow of Corona

For many years, Rav Chaim’s daily schedule ran like clockwork. He would rise at what he’s said is his favorite time of day — several hours before sunrise, when the world is shrouded in quiet and serenity and he can learn without interruption. He would begin his “chovos” at that hour, interrupting his learning to daven vasikin with a small minyan in his home. After a light breakfast, during which he would respond to numerous sh’eilos sent to him from all over the world, followed by a brief rest, he would return to his Torah study, which would be punctuated with responses to hundreds more sh’eilos that were brought to him throughout the day.

This was the picture of Rav Chaim’s daily routine before the deadly virus descended upon Eretz Yisrael, and after COVID-19 struck, his schedule remained exactly the same, while his family members worked valiantly to protect his aging body from the disease. Even when he was ill, there was no visible change in his routine. He learned as usual and performed all the mitzvos of the Yom Tov as always, including the hakafos of Simchas Torah, which are held in his home every year.

Although some have claimed that Rav Chaim takes a more lenient stance regarding the precautionary measures instituted by the government, Shai Graucher is adamant that this is not the case. “The Rav believes that any measures necessary to save lives must be implemented and observed. At the same time, he insists that bittul Torah must be avoided to the greatest extent possible. If a person must be in quarantine or is not feeling well, then he should do everything necessary to take care of himself and avoid infecting others. But the Rav also knows the infinite, all-encompassing value of Torah, and that’s why he insists that yeshivos continue functioning in any way possible even during this time.”

Not long ago, Rav Chaim made headlines in Israel when he instructed the heads of Israeli yeshivos to open their institutions at the beginning of the zeman, in spite of the government’s opposition. Reb Shai explains that this decision was weighed with painstaking care.

On Motzaei Shabbos of the week of Parshas Bereishis, Rav Chaim met with a group of senior medical professionals who presented all the data on the infection rates among children in Talmidei Torah and yeshivos ketanos. At the same time, he heard from renowned chinuch experts about the severe psychological repercussions of keeping children holed up in crowded homes for months at a time, without giving them the opportunity to see the faces of their rebbeim or to learn together in a normal setting. Rav Chaim was also shown the data about the swiftly rising rate of attrition in the community. He thought about it for a long time, then heaved a deep sigh and said, “Dos iz a shvere sugya — This is a difficult chapter.”

“So what’s the bottom line?” his visitors pressed. “What should we do?”

“Oy li mi’Yotzri, oy li mi’yitzri — Woe is to me from my Creator, and woe is to me from my [evil] inclination,” Rav Chaim said, quoting a maxim that appears in the Gemara. After a lengthy pause, Rav Chaim asked how long the government wished to delay the opening of the yeshivos and schools.

“Until the 26th of Teves,” he was told.

Rav Chaim was shocked. “Three months?” he repeated. “No, they must open immediately.”

And so it was. Rav Chaim’s instructions were accepted without question throughout the yeshivah world. But Reb Shai emphasizes that the Rav would not permit even the slightest compromise on the necessary safety measures. “Of course, everything must be done in the safest possible way — the students must wear masks, maintain distance, and follow all the other rules,” he says. “The Rav is saying that the yeshivos must not be closed if it is safe for any other institutions to open.”

A Brighter Future

In these confusing times, many eyes have been focused on Rechov Rashbam, as people yearn for some glimmer of insight, some wisp of encouragement or hope. Here, too, Reb Shai has some inside information.

“The Rav has told me more than once that the plague will be removed by the recitation of Tehillim,” he relates. “When I asked him what to do about it, he told me to say Tehillim. This was the reason that we chose Tehillim for the topic of the next sefer. At the same time, before Rosh Hashanah Rav Chaim was asked what advice could be given to Klal Yisrael as a whole during this time of crisis, and he responded that the men should learn Torah and the women should recite Tehillim. Someone asked him if the men who do not know how to learn could recite Tehillim instead, and Rav Chaim responded that they should be advised to learn at least a little bit, to the extent that they are able.”

Rav Chaim has one more message for the public: to begin preparing for the upcoming shemittah year of 5782 by studying the halachos. He has advised the entire Jewish world to begin a regimen of study of two halachos every day from the sefer Derech Emunah on the laws of shemittah. In a video taken in Rav Chaim’s house to promote this initiative, the Rav is seen being asked what merit will be earned by a person who undertakes this course of study before Yom Kippur. “Mashiach,” Rav Chaim replies in his trademark terse style, indicating that anyone who commits to this course of study will witness the arrival of the redemption. Reb Shai is quick to note that the halachos apply to the Jewish people in chutz l’Aretz as well.

As COVID ravages the world, with nations and economies plunged into turmoil, there is still one constant: As surely as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, Rav Chaim Kanievsky will still go about his rigorous daily routine, allowing nothing to distract him from his single-minded service of Hashem. And Rabbi Shai Graucher is grateful that he has a part in serving as the bridge between Klal Yisrael and the Sar HaTorah, bringing relief and spiritual succor to countless souls.

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 836)

 

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