Apr 30, 2007

The Godfather

A friend of mine was to be making a bris today. They wanted Rav Elyashiv to be the sandek, so they had to make the bris by Rav Elyashiv's shul. Rav Elyashiv is upwards of 96 years old (or so) and does not go very many places, and never leaves Yerushalayim.

I was unsure of whether I would be able to go or not, but in the end, late last night, decided I would go and take a couple of my boys with me. It is not an everyday event and the chance to see a gadol is one you do not just ignore.

So we got up at 5:15 to shower and go so we could be there for davening in Rav Elyashiv's shul at 6:20 am. I must say, the minyan I normally daven in also starts around the same time (6:25 am actually), but this minyan took much longer. It finished, with selichos for b'ha"b, at about 7:35 or so.

They were very efficient and Rav Elyashiv wastes no time. The moment davening ended they were already calling "Kvater!" for the bris to start.

Rav Elyashiv getting an aliyah at the Torah reading
Rav Elyashiv with Rav Efrati (who possibly might soon be appointed the next Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem)
"The Godfather"
being whisked away in the "gadolmobile"
transferred to the car and off to wherever gedolim go...
I would like to add, and close with, an observation. From what I could tell, Rav Elyashiv is oblivious to everything that goes on around him. Every spare moment he had he had his nose buried in a sefer learning. His "people" were running the show and telling him where to go. I suspect he did not even know there was a bris going on. They called him to be sandek - he looked up from his sefer and sort of grunted and they directed him to the chair. He is totally dedicated to learning Torah and nothing else. That reinforces in my mind the thought that if you ever hear something in Rav Elyashiv's name, you can be sure someone else told him to sign the paper or go somewhere. He was completely oblivious to and uninterested in whatever was going on outside of his sefer. Just my opinion.


  1. I saw him at a Bris a few years ago and he seemed very much aware of what was going on.

    That Gadolmobile looks like a glorified golf cart.

  2. I did not mean he is not aware because he is out of it or anything like that. I meant he is busy learning and that is it. He is not paying attention to anything else.

  3. and that is basically what it is - a glorified golf cart. When they whisked him off, I thought I saw a glimmer from the golf clubs in the back.. :-)

  4. He is not paying attention to anything else.

    Whatever the reason for his inattention, it is not a good thing to have people speaking in your name for you.

  5. were the golf clubs his?

    this is the story with academics/scholars in general. they may be genuises, but sometimes they are completely removed from reality.

  6. "They were very efficient . . ."

    i hate going to simchas (brisses, weddings, whatever) where they make you wait around. esp. at brisses when you are in a rush to get to work and you want to make sure you can stay long enough to partake in the seudah.

    speaking of which, we are obviously on different levels. you make an effort to go to a bris because there will be a gadol there. i make sure to be at a bris if i know there will be hot foot at the seudah.

  7. actually not Ari. I usually go to these things for the food too. But for this specific bris I knew there would be no food. Food was happening later in the day, not at the bris itself....

    Jack - Rav Elyashiv is famous for things being said in his name. I ws told by various rabbonim that when hearing something in the name of Rav Elyuashiv, one should not trust it is so unless you heard it from him himself

  8. looking oblivious and uninterested doesnt necessarily mean being oblivious and uninterested, why not assume that he was interested and aware just not as easily distracted as the rest of us wouls be. im not sure if i misunderstood the last part of what you wrote, but it seems harsh to say that he signs and says things without paying attention. i think thats the minimum expected of anyone who says or signs something and certainly a person of his stature is aware of that. did I misunderstand what you meant?

  9. following up, I would like to point out that just because someone is brilliant in one area does not mean that they are qualified or brilliant at everything. So a person may be brilliant at learning torah but may not be brilliant at how they judge situations or disseminate information.

    We all know people who are smart and talented and can't find their way out of a paper bag. Not that this applies in this case, but one might hope for a leader of a community to have some connection to the reality that the people live and perhaps even some training.

    Of course that would also mean that teachers in day schools and yeshivot would also need more than nepotisim or able to learn a daf.

  10. m00kie - that is a big question and is a dilemma I have as well. I have been told that about Rav Elyashiv many times, by respectable Rabbonim and many people who "are in the know" (i.e. they hang out in those circles). For some reason that seems to be how it works with Rav Elyashiv. Maybe he simply relies on some of the people he trusts without getting too involved himself. I do not know and I do not have a good answer to your question.

  11. Yasherkoach on the pictures - great job!!


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