Thursday, November 17, 2011

Reb Kanievsky

Last night our community was privilidged to be addressed by R' Yitzchok Koleditsky, son-in-law of R' Chaim Kanievsky.  Most of the talk was divrei hisore'rus, dealing with ideals that he felt Rebbetzen Kanievsky a"h embodied and which we should try to implement.  Some take away points: 
1. He opened by recounting Reb Kanievsky tremendous mesirus nefesh for Torah; she never disturbed her husband's learning or sedorim for any reason - be it erev pesach, be it a sick child, be it any other need.  We are not on the level of R' Chaim or his Rebbetzin, but on our own level we need to treat sedorim as a committment not easily broken -- we need to have mesirus nefesh for our Torah.
2. Rav Koleditsky stressed (and how many times I have gone over this with my daughters!) the need for women to daven at least shacharis and mincha (Reb. Kanievsky davened ma'ariv as well) b'zman, with a full shmoneh esrei.  We demonstrate the importance of tefilah by coming on time, by dressing properly.  Reb Kanievsky would daven b'tzibur except on Fri afternoon, when she was busy preparing for Shabbos, but even then she would change her clothes and put on shoes to daven (which she did at the same time as the early mincha minyan, so as to have at least a partial kiyum of tefilah b'tzibur).  
3.  Tzniyus is the vehicle to bring kedusha and hashra'as haShechina to Klal Yisrael.  M'ikar hadin he said that sleeves need to reach only to the elbow (meaning so that the elbow is covered at all times, even if the arms are lifted or extended), but as a geder of kedusha one should try to cover to the wrist.  He mentioned that when R' Zilberstein would come to speak in learning with R' Chaim on Friday afternoon and Reb Kanievsky was preparing Shabbos food with her sleeves a little rolled up, she would roll them down when she came into their room to serve coffee.  Tzeniyus is not just about sleeve length, however -- it also means avoiding the sheitel or dress that attracts attention.  Don't be a slave to society's ideas of fashion.
A nice vort: We read in Megilas Rus that Boaz when Boaz saw Rus he asked, "Who is that girl?"  Chazal are bothered -- why was Boaz looking at and asking about unmarried girls?  The gemara answers that it was the midah of tzeniyus that he saw in Rus that made Boaz ask who she was.  But still, the question remains -- why was Boaz even looking at Rus?  R' Koleditsky answered (and I did not catch who he quoted for this) that it was not Rus the person which caught Boaz's eye, but rather it was the hashra'as haShechina that was caused by an isha tzenu'a being present that he detected.   (He told a story of the Chid"a stopping in the middle of a derasha to exclaim that he felt the Shechina enter when a women who was dressed tzanu'a came into the room.)
4. M'inyana d'yoma, prepare for Shabbos early so as to avoid the yetzer ha'ra that creeps into every home on Friday afternoon as everyone gets all worked up and rushed trying to get ready.   Reb. Kanievsky used to stress the importance of the mitzvah of baking challah and peforming the mitzvah of hafrashas challah.  R' Koldidesky suggested that learning a halacha in hilchos shabbos by each seduah can help foster a better appreciation of shabbos. 
Of course there was much more about Reb Kanievsky's midos tovos and chessed and the power of those traits to bring bracha -- this is just a taste for those who missed it.

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