Monthly Archives: September 2010

Rav Chaim Kanievsky: Served in the IDF and enjoys a good joke

Rav Chaim Kanievsky served in the IDF
Yes, you read that title correctly. You can stop rubbing your eyes.

I am going to translate this article about how Rav Chaim Kanievsky served in the army, or else to be known as "Sticks and Stones"for those of you who might have trouble with the Hebrew. I had never heard this before, and find the story fascinating.

    Rav Shmuel Grossbard, father of one of the mashgichim in Ponevvezh Yeshiva, passed away this week. His children were surprised when Rav Chaim Kanievsky came in to be menachem aveilim, and were even more surprised with what he told them shortly after he arrived.

    "You have no idea why I troubled myself to come console you?" Rav Kanievsky asked.. "I have hakarat hatov for your father who was my commander in the army and helped me a lot!"

    Those present were surprised by what he said that he had served in the army. One of those present had the courage to ask "The Rav was in the army? We never heard this before about our father, and about the Rav even more so!"

    Rav Kanievsky smiled and related to them, "It was during the War of Independence, I was then learning in the Yeshiva of Lomza in Petach Tikva. The war started and everyone was drafted to the army with no exceptions. Of course, we knew nothing, until one day a large vehicle pulled up outside the yeshiva and they said everybody has to get in to go protect the country.

    Because none of us knew how to hold a gun,they gave us sticks and stones and put us out to guard a large hill. I remember everyone was very scared and Rav Berel Povarsky hid in a bathroom and got out of it. But me and Rav Moshe Soloveitchik, we went, and he was sitting beside me the whole time saying tehillim while crying.

    Your father, z"l, was appointed as commander, because he was the oldest in the group. because he was commander, he got the largest stick. When we got there, I asked him what we should do. he told me you should go up the hill and sit and learn where they can't see you, but take a stick and two stones so if the Arabs would come you can scare them away. We sat there for a long time, and after we left the place we were told the Arabs had shot to that same place."

    When he finished relating this story he said, "Out of gratitude for then, I have come to console you."

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Only in America……..

Jews in Jail – Endurance

Very inspirational story of two Chabad volunteers  (I happen to know one of them, Peretz Shapiro personally from Sydney, Australia. ) and their work with the Aleph Institute, helping Jewish inmates in American prisons.<link >

Key quote that sticks out in my mind:

Schapiro said that in order to prepare for their Jewish jail jaunt, he and Kalmensohn asked the head of their yeshiva in Los Angeles what they should tell the prisoners. "He said that of all the great personalities in the Torah, including Abraham and Moses, only Joseph, while in prison, is called a 'successful man,'" Schapiro reported. "He went on to explain that when things are going right for someone and he enjoys success in what he is doing, it's not real success, rather the result of circumstance. When things are not going right and the person still remains positive and focused on his goal, he is a successful person. Joseph, who was hated by his brothers, sold into slavery and thrown into a dungeon for a crime he didn't commit, had every right to be angry at society and lose focus. However, even after these terrible things had befallen him, he kept a positive outlook and a good attitude. He woke up one morning, and the fact that his fellow inmate didn't have a smile on his face bothered him. That is real success. When we heard this, we thought it would be something nice to tell the inmates to try to lift their spirits a bit."