Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Did Rav Kanievsky predict Moshiach's arrival by Tisha B'Av of this year?

I've been sitting on this one for a while, but the fast day is soon approaching. Do you recall when Rav Kanievsky told his family to buy a suit to greet moshiach? Or when he predicted messianic war and the geulah by Chanukah? And how in each case it was a result of misinterpretation of his words? Well, I do. As Rav Kanievsky is reported to have said, "anything said in my name is a lie."

As each Jewish holiday or fast day approaches, some mystic predicts the apocalypse. And there is one from Rav Chaim Kanievsky. A sample:
While the fast of 9 Av is still in the air, a resident of Bnei Brak visited the honorable Rav Kanievsky Shila to ask him a few questions regarding the fast. The revered Rav answered him, "The answers I'll give you will not help you. By this time next year, Moshiach will be here and we will no longer be fasting."
The above rare answer from the Rav is extremely extraordinary. All those present in Rav Kanievsky's house were astounded to hear this surprise answer.
Yet if mashiach does not arrive before then, I will think no less of Rav Kanievsky. This, because I seriously doubt that this was a messianic prediction. (I also think the reaction shot of those in the house is hyperbole to get people convinced that this is the real deal; alternatively, those who frequent his house and misinterpret his every remark might simply be morons.)

Here is how I would understand the story. First, let me relate another story. The Rav in shiur was once discussing the halachos of Shabbos, and the topic turned to how to diaper a baby on Shabbos. One nudnik repeatedly pressed for answers about particular details. The next day, this fellow showed up to shiur with a baby doll and a diaper, and asked for clarification on particular details. The Rav asked him whether he had a baby. The fellow said no. And the Rav said "When you have a baby, then I'll answer your questions about this."

Big Gedolim are often pestered by nudniks (think Hillel HaZaken), and Rav Chaim Kanievsky is apparently no exception. But one mark of their gadlus may be how they deal with such nudniks.

And so, last year Tisha Be'Av, Rav Kanievsky was fasting. Not only that, but on that same day, July 29, 2009, his wife was hospitalized for a heart condition. To cite a blurb about this:
July 29, 2009
Bnei Brak, Eretz Yisroel: The Rebbetzin of Maran Hagaon Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita has been hospitalized for a heart condition. The Rebbetzin is visited by thousands of people for her advice and Brachos, as Rav Kanevsky is very busy.
Please be Mispallel for her Refuah Shelaima.
She was released from the hospital on July 31st, as reported by Yeshiva World.

So we have a Gadol whose wife was just hospitalized. And even if this is just before she was hospitalized, Rav Kanievsky is old, and he had been fasting for a while -- he is not necessarily feeling so well himself. And some nudnik from Bnei Brak approaches him and starts peppering him with questions about the halachos of Tisha B'Av. Are these questions practical, halacha lemaaseh questions which are immediately necessary? No! Because Tisha B'Av is already in progress.

And so Rav Kanievsky tells him, using careful words so as not to insult the nudnik, that "the answers I'll give you will not help you" this year. And as for next year's Tisha B'Av, be'ezras Hashem, by that time moshiach will have come and we will not be fasting. (Much like the buying of the suit, that be'ezras Hashem, we will be able to wear the suit to greet moshiach and not just for the upcoming wedding.) Implied, to the non-moron, is that if mashiach does not arrive by then, the fellow should come back and ask his practical questions. Unfortunately, Rav Kanievsky appears to be surrounded by morons who misunderstand and distort his every word.


Devorah said...


E-Man said...

That is true by many people who surround many Gedolim.

Shmaryahu said...

"Yet if mashiach does not arrive before then, I will think no less of Rav Kanievsky." Forgive me, but I was under the impression (based on previous posts) that you never thought very highly of him to begin with.

joshwaxman said...

that wasn't my intent, ch"v. one can respect someone as a tremendous talmid chacham which still taking note that lack of secular knowledge can prove a serious deficiency when it comes to "psak", in halacha and hashkafa.

kol tuv,

zach said...

"be'ezras Hashem".

Is that what you hope he said?

joshwaxman said...

"Is that what you hope he said?"

it is what i assume he said. i may be wrong or may be right, but i think it is a likely assumption, as that same phrase was what got elided in the retelling of the "suit for mashiach" story. and even if he did not say it explicitly, but rather spoke in hopeful speech, there is a straightforward way in which it would be implicit.

kol tuv,

S. said...

I will never forget Rosh Hashanah 2008 when the Rav, in an attempt to make it special for everyone, ruined it for me by announcing that he his rebbe R. Elya Svei had a special message that he personally heard R. Elchonon Wasserman reveal that 2009 is THE YEAR. He said it with such confidence. At the end he kind of squished in a quick "But if it isn't, it's because we blew it."

Mad Max said...

The Chazon Ish used to tell doctors how to do surgery. How sick is it to say Daas Torah is lacking because they didn't have a full secular education!! Additionally, what does that have to do with Moshiach coming?!

joshwaxman said...

"The Chazon Ish used to tell doctors how to do surgery. How sick is it to say Daas Torah is lacking because they didn't have a full secular education!!"
The Chazon Ish got his scientific knowledge by reading medical journals. We have testimony from his student, Rav Gdealia Nadel, as to this. See here.


Additionally, what does that have to do with Moshiach coming?!
Absolutely nothing. I was responding to a commenter who thought i did not respect Rav Kanievsky, just because he thinks Jews have a different number of teeth than gentiles.

kol tuv,

joshwaxman said...

sorry; posts promoting idolatry are not welcome here.

but i do doubt that mashiach will be a terrorist sympathizer or a "useful idiot" who has been misled by a clever PR campaign...

all the best,


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