The Jewish Eye
Rav Shlomo Elyashiv: Navigating The Heavens
“In this world we can stand in his presence but who knows if in the Olam HaEmes we will even be able to get near him.” “While we build in this world and have in mind to build the heavens, he with his clear vision of the pathways of heaven builds the heavens themselves.” So said the Chofetz Chaim about the great Gaon, Tzaddik and Mekubal Rav Shlomo Elyashiv the author of the renowned Sefer on Kabala, Leshem Shvo V’Achlama and the grandfather of today’s posek hador Rav Sholom Yosef Elyashiv yblct”a.
The Baal HaLeshem as he is known, was born in 5601/1841. He was a talmid of Rav Gershon Tanchum in Minsk where he was appointed to be a Rav and Posek. After a short time he resigned his position based on a Pesikta Rabta (perek 22) that says “Rebbi Avahu says, (Hashem says) I am Kadosh and you are called Kadosh. If you do not have all the attributes that I have then do not accept authority upon yourself.
The Baal HaLeshem did not utter any word without reason and he enclosed himself in his room wearing tallis and tefilin, learning both Toras Manila and Toras HaNistar day and night. There he composed he seforim on Kabala. Rav Aryeh Levine, whose daughter married Rav Yosef Sholom Elyashiv, said about the Baal HaLeshem that although his right hand was weak and feeble and writing was a difficult chore for him nevertheless when he wrote his seforim he was able to write with incredible speed. Before writing his seforim he would personally make the ink and prepare the quills “BKedusha UB’Tahara”.
Although publishing Kabalistic works is not a simple matter because it reveals matters that are often best to remain secret, two incidents show that it was clear that the Baal HaLeshem had great Siyata Dishmaya in preserving and publishing his seforim. The first was in WWI when the enemy soldiers came to Shavil, the town of the Baal HaLeshem, and told the people they had 15 hours to leave. The Baal HaLeshem was already 73 years old. With bitter tears he realized that he would not be able to take his not yet published writings with him. He then buried them in the ground, as is Kavod for seforim. Years later when the Baal HaLeshem took up residence in the city of Hommel and it was impossible to return to Shavil, he told of his sorrow to another former resident of Shavil, Mr. Ben Tzion Nourik, who then resided in Riga. Mr. Nourik with great vigor took up the cause of rescuing the seforim even sending experts from Riga to Shavil to recover the buried treasures. This operation was successful and the seforim were returned to their holy owner.
Later on, in the year 1924 when the Baal HaLeshem was already 83 years old and on his way to Eretz Yisroel, he spent a number of days in Istanbul. Upon boarding the ship to Eretz Yisroel he realized that a set of manuscripts were missing. With a torrent of tears the Baal HaLeshem davened for the manuscript to be returned and moments before the ship set sail another guest of the hotel he stayed at came running to the boat with the manuscript.
Rav Aryeh Levine said that one time the Baal HaLeshem’s wife, in her innocence told him, that every night for many years she would hear from behind closed doors her husband learning with someone who had a very sweet voice but she never had the nerve to ask her husband about it. One time she was forced to come in and interrupt her husband but she was too scared to reveal to Rav Aryeh Levine what she had seen.
About his young grandson Rav Yosef Sholom Shlit”a he said “Ashrei Yoladito”; praised is he one who bore him. He also quotes him in Chelek 3 of the Leshem.
During his Levaya in 5688/1928 at he age of 87, all those who participated witnessed a pillar of fire in the form of a rainbow, covering the entire sky from east to west and were amazed. Yehi Zichro Boruch (Gedolei HaDoros Rav YM Stern)
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