Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky

Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky was born in 1928. He is the son of Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky, known as “the Steipler,” and Rebbetzin Miriam Karelitz, sister of Rabbi Avraham Yeshayahu Karelitz—the Chazon Ish.  Like his father and uncle, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky is considered one of the greatest scholars of our generation, and thousands of people each week, in person and through the mail, seek his blessing, halachic guidence, and personal advice. 

As a boy, Rabbi Chaim studied at Yeshiva Tiferes Tzion in Bnei Brak, Israel, which was founded by the Chazon Ish.  After his bar mitzvah, Rabbi Chaim began studying in Petach Tikvah, at the Lomza Yeshiva.  But every Shabbat, he would come home to spend the day with his parents and the Chazon Ish, and bask in their presence.  It was the Chazon Ish who arranged for the match between Rabbi Chaim and Batsheva Elyashiv, oldest daughter of Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and Shaina Chaya Levin, and granddaughter of Rabbi Aryeh Levin and Tziporah Chana Shapira.  Rabbi Elyashiv was a great halachic authority respected the world over; Rabbi Levin, known as “the Tzaddik of Jerusalem,” was not only a Talmudic scholar, but was beloved by Jews throughout Israel for his holy acts, including worrying about the welfare of young children in the community, caring for the city's sick, visiting the leper hospital, and serving as a chaplain to Jewish political prisoners incarcerated in Palestine during the British Mandate.

A few months after Rabbi and Rebbetzin Kanievsky were married in 1951, they moved to Bnei Brak, east of Tel Aviv, a city whose population today is about 150,000 inhabitants, and where Rabbi Chaim continues to live.  Rabbi and Rebbetzin Kanievsky had eight children, five girls and three boys.  Avraham, Shlomo, and Yitzchak grew up to be rabbis; Chana, Leah, Rus, Brachah, and Deena grew up to marry rabbis. All have children and grandchildren of their own.

The Kanievsky home has always been open to anybody who needs help.  When, more than thirty years ago, a young man named Sender Preizler, who had been orphaned as a small child, asked Rabbi Chaim to guide him, Rabbi Chaim invited him to come for Shabbat meals each week and said, “From now on, I will be your father and you will be my son.”  When Sender fell asleep, fully dressed, one Friday night, it was Rabbi Chaim who gently removed his shoes.  In the morning, Rabbi Chaim apologized for having disturbed Sender’s rest, but, he explained, the Talmud teaches that it is unhealthy for a person to sleep in his shoes. 

All of Rabbi and Rebbetzin Kanievsky’s children describe the great respect their parents had for each other.  Rabbi Chaim would always make time to speak with his beloved wife, even in the midst of his studies, and they would always share their small meals together.  Rebbetzin Kanievsky knew that her husband was able to concentrate on his learning more fully knowing that she was nearby to manage all the household affairs, so she made it a point to remain close to home. She insisted on taking care of all Rabbi Chaim's needs herself, even getting up each day when he did - at 2 a.m. in the morning!

Rebbetzin Kanievsky was renowned for making herself available to tens of thousands of women who converged on her home for her blessing and counsel. She was a truly remarkable women who touched thousands of lives, inspiring countless individuals in their interpersonal relations with each other, and in their service to G-d. Her passing left a void in the hearts of so many Jews across the globe. The Rebbetzin was one of most remarkable and inspiring women of our generation.

It is in Rebbetzin Kanievsky’s hallowed memory that Ner Echad was founded, as the way to perpetuate her legacy and lifework.   

At the inaguration of Ner Echad and the signing of its charter, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky said, "Never before in the history of the Jewish people have thousands of women joined together week after week in the method developed by Ner Echad, to light Shabbos candles, pray for each other, and give charity in unison, as a distinct group. This massive spiritual force will certainly generate a wellspring of spiritual and material blessing, and create an enormous protective shield for the entire Jewish nation."