Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky, The Steipler
Rabbi Mordecai Dov, son-in-law
of R. Chaim Sanz, was rabbi in Horensteipel.
One of his followers was a shochet, Reb Chaim Peretz, who was the
father of three daughters. His
wife died and Chaim Peretz was already 60.
He visited his Rebbe, Reb Mordecai Dov and asked whether he should
remarry. The reply was that he
should marry a young woman and he would be blessed with sons.
So he did and had three sons, the oldest was named Yaakov Yisrael.
At the age of 11, Yaakov Yisrael was recruited for the Novorodock Yeshiva under the
great R. Yosef Yosel Hurwitz.
The young man progressed rapidly and at the age of 19 was sent by R.
Yosef Yosel Hurwitz to head a yeshiva in Rogatshov.
At that time Yaakov Yisrael was conscripted into the Russian army
where he continued to strictly observe all mitzvot
in spite of the harsh conditions. His
disciple, R. Ben Zion Bruck, sent him a gemara Succah and a Chaye Adam from
which he studied assiduously. He
insisted on wearing a summer uniform in the winter since there was no
problem of shatnes. One volume
of his Kehilas Yaakov contains the Torah he composed while in the army.
He was appointed Rosh Yeshiva of the Novorodock yeshiva in Pinsk.
In Bialystock he studied under R. Avrohom Jofen.
His fame grew and the Chazon Ish heard of his great scholarship, but
equally as important, of his yirat shamayim, and sought him as husband for
The Steipler wrote many works,
his magnum opus being the multi-volume Kehilas Yaakov, containing his unique
analysis of most of the tractates and concepts of the Talmud.
There are several volumes of letters (Karyana DIgarata) and
several volumes written by a disciple, Rabbi A. Horowitz, describe his daily
life (Orchos Rabbeinu). There is an interesting volume of letters to an American
psychologist, Dr. Yaakov Greenwald, in which The Steipler advises him on
psychological problems (Eitsot VHadrachot).
Though he held no official position, The Steipler was universally recognized and was consulted by individuals from all walks of life on every imaginable problem and many claimed that he displayed knowledge which was inconceivable by natural means. In his relation with people he seemed both tough and tender, but as one who knew him very intimately said, he would give someone a slap in order to sweeten the judgment. (Lhamtik Hadinim)
The above graphic includes photographs that were provided by VERAfilm archives.