Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion paid tribute to Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky ztz"l today, relating some of his own experiences to Israel National News.

"I was privileged to know a giant among men, a living Torah scroll, an ascetic," Lion said. "When I went to see him, I would pass his bedroom with its simple bed, a narrow bed, belonging to someone who could have had all the luxuries of this world -- but they were meaningless to him.

"Even after you entered his room, he continued learning Torah. There was always a sefer [holy book] open before him; he was always learning. For just a moment he would divert his attention, without uttering more than a few words, but his 'yes' or 'no' would encompass all that was needed, as would the blessing he gave."

In the mayor's opinion, what made Rav Chaim unique was his special ability to reach the heart of every Jew, no matter from which stream, no matter who. "It's no secret that Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky was an extraordinarily special person. Jews from the entire spectrum would gather around him. Jews from the Religious-Zionist community would come, even secular Jews, and of course the Lithuanian haredim as well as Chassidim. He belonged to everyone.

"I first encountered the Rav over ten years ago," Lion continued. "In 2013, he supported my candidacy and later, he appointed me as the head of the Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center, Bnei Brak's hospital. Then, in 2018, just before Yom Kippur, he decided to support my candidacy as mayor of Jerusalem.

"Rav Chaim was a man of very few words," Lion added. "Over the years, I have sought the advice of many rabbis, and he spoke the least of all of them. Meetings with him were invariably extremely short. I would relate the particular issue at hand, and my doubts and considerations, and he would immediately summarize it in a few words and give his ruling, along with a blessing for success: Brachah ve'hatzlachah.

"One of the last times I met with Rav Chaim was toward the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic," he continued, "when I came to ask him to support the closure of Torah schools. He was the first [Torah leader] to agree and I recall the huge impact it had when he made that decision. The moment he said to close the schools for a few days, they all closed. And when he said to open them again, they opened. He influenced the atmosphere for everyone, showing how dangerous the coronavirus was to all of us."

The mayor concluded, "Whenever I returned home after meeting with Rav Chaim, I felt full of a spiritual light that lasted for a long time. We will miss him tremendously; his loss leaves a huge chasm. I feel that we have lost the most influential person, the most significant person in the Jewish world. Jerusalem will surely commemorate him and future generations will never forget him. Many more stories of his greatness are sure to emerge, with tales of all the wondrous things he did for others."