Sivan Rahav-Meir
Sivan Rahav-MeirEyal ben Ayish

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin (

This is one of the stories that I heard about Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, zt"l, who was brought to rest yesterday:

Rabbi Yehoshua Hartman wrote the authoritative commentary on the writings of the Maharal of Prague. In one of his books, the Maharal writes that the revival of the dead will begin in Ma'arat HaMachpelah (Cave of the Patriarchs ) in Hebron. Rabbi Hartman did not find the origin of this idea in any of our sources. He asked Torah scholars, searched in all the many repositories of Torah wisdom, but ultimately had to write in a footnote that he found no substantiation for this idea among our sages.

After a while, he met Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky in the street and asked him this question: "The Maharal writes that our sages say that the revival of the dead will begin in the Machpelah Cave. Where is that written?"

And then something astonishing happened. Rabbi Kanievsky continued walking with him, while murmuring to himself and leaving Rabbi Hartman in silent awe: "In the Babylonian Talmud . . . not there. In the Jerusalem Talmud . . . not there. In the Halachic Midrashim . . . no. In the Aggadic Midrashim . . no."

In front of his very eyes, Rabbi Hartman saw Rabbi Kanievsky review the entire Torah in his head, in several seconds, like a human Google. His brain scanned the complete library of Torah literature in rapid fashion, demonstrating masterful proficiency and a phenomenal memory. Finally Rabbi Kanievsky arrived at the requested source: "The holy Zohar . . . yes." He directed a stunned Rabbi Hartman to the specific place in the Zohar where, in fact, the source of the Maharal's statement was to be found.

Rabbi Kanievsky was called "a walking Torah scroll" since, in his 94 years, he reached rare levels of Torah love and devotion in showing us how far a human being can go. All of us remember what is most important to us. And what was most important to him was Torah.

While it is unlikely that we will reach his level, it is still possible to take upon ourselves some of his diligence and dedication to Torah study for the sake of his soul's ascent.