Rabbi Kanievsky's funeral a moment of truth for the Jewish state - opinion

The funeral of rabbi Kanievsky was a moment of revelation of the profound essence of the Jewish nation.

 RABBI CHAIM KANIEVSKY studies and ponders at his home in Bnei Brak, last year (photo credit: Yaakov Nahumi/Flash90)
RABBI CHAIM KANIEVSKY studies and ponders at his home in Bnei Brak, last year
(photo credit: Yaakov Nahumi/Flash90)

In the midst of these stormy and bitter days, the world stood still for a moment at the sight of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children who stopped everything to pay their last respects to Sar HaTorah (The Minister of Torah) Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky. For hundreds of thousands of people, most of whom had never met him, the image of him leaning over his books in his simple home in Bnei Brak served as an illuminating beacon, an anchor through the storms of time.

Indeed, this wondrous image is very different from those we are used to seeing in our world nowadays, a world that worships youth and progress. Rabbi Kanievsky lived his entire life in a modest two-room apartment and devoted every moment of his life to learning Torah, until it became part of him. But, for the tens of thousands who accompanied him on his last journey, we had never had a greater man.

The Jewish nation’s dynasty was not established by kings. We call Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah our mothers and fathers and we call ourselves the children of Israel. On the eve of the Jewish nation’s birth, our forefathers focused on the legacy and heritage they would leave their children.

“And you shall tell your son on that day, saying, ‘Because of this, the Lord did [this] for me when I went out of Egypt’” (Exodus 13). This is the Jewish nation’s profound essence – a strong and eternal chain of generations, a chain of parents and children, whose movement toward the future gets its strength and values from all the generations that preceded it.

Rabbi Kanievsky was more than a cultural hero, he was the father of an entire generation. His tremendous love of Torah and those who study it, his erudition, inconceivable diligence and knowledge of Torah, the power of his prayers and blessings, and his total humility – all these served as a vivid and inspiring presence of the world of Torah throughout the generations.

 Ultra-Orthodox Jews gather during the funeral ceremony of Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky in the streets near the cemetery  in the city of Bnei Brak, on March 20, 2022 (credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90) Ultra-Orthodox Jews gather during the funeral ceremony of Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky in the streets near the cemetery in the city of Bnei Brak, on March 20, 2022 (credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)

The worlds of the Sanhedrin sages, of Rabba and Abaye, of the Gaonim, Rishonim and Achronim. All of them lived among us through his incredible persona, a father figure for the entire Jewish nation. I was privileged to be hosted in his home many times, to ask and receive a blessing and strength for our activities at the Western Wall and on behalf of the Jewish world, and every single time, I left with a feeling of, “Because I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face” (Judges 6).

The funeral of Rabbi Kanievsky was a moment of truth. A moment of revelation of the profound essence of the Jewish nation – a nation connected to its roots and past, a nation devoted to the heritage of its ancestors.

The writer is rabbi of the Western Wall and holy sites.