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Apr 1, 2008

Fascinating story involving Rav Kanievsky

This past week, the Mishpacha magazine (Hebrew) had an article about a new book being put out by somebody who is close to many of the gedolim. The book has many anecdotes and stories of the various Rabbonim. The articles related a few stories from the book that will soon be published.

Here is one story that I enjoyed, this one involving Rav Chaim Kanievsky.

The narrator writes:
One night while at a Bar Mitzvah party in Bnei Brak, somebody approached me and said he needs my help in getting in to see Rav Chaim Kanievsky so he can decide in a Halachik dispute between him and someone else. I said that Rav Chaim does not get involved in halachik disputes and for that there is the Beis Din. The guy insisted saying, "I know Rav Chaim does not deal in dinei Torah, but this is not a regular dispute between two people..."
This made me curious so I asked for some background.
He related, "There were two people in Bnei brak - Reuven and Shimon. Reuven was a great scholar and learned full time in Kollel. Reuven is in a very dire financial situation. Shimon is a good friend of Reuven's, and he learns Torah when he is able to, but he is a successful businessman.

Reuven's financial situation had gotten worse and worse to the point that his table on Shabbos consisted of a can of tuna for the whole family.

Somehow Shimon found out about Reuven's situation and he was shocked. He decided to take it upon himself to support Reuven's Shabbos expenses. He told reuven that whatever he needed for Shabbos he should buy and he, Shimon, would pay for it. Reuven accepted, knowing how bad his situation was, and that was the beginning of the arrangement.

Eventually, Shimon went through some rough times and business was no longer so good. While originally the extra expense of supporting Reuven's Shabbos purchases was barely even noticed in Shimon's pocket, was now very difficult for him to meet every week. Despite that, he said nothing to Reuven about the change in his situation and continued supporting Reuven's shabbos expenses.

One day, Reuven found out about Shimon's new situation. He right away called Shimon and thanked him for having supported him until now, but he he refuses to accept his assistance any longer.

Shimon stuck to his guns and said that the Gemara says that Shabbos expenses are not included in the amount Hashem decides He will provide for each person
annually. Therefore these expenses do not come out of the amount I am designated to receive, so I can continue supporting you.

Reuven refused saying It is true Shabbos expenses are not included, but these are my expenses, not yours. Your paying my Shabbos expenses is Tzedaka and Chessed, but it does not say that tzedaka is not included in the amount.

Shimon insisted claiming that Reuven's expenses for Shabbos are just like his own and they are not included in the amount so he will continue paying them.

They agreed to bring the dispute to a Rav for the decision. Now that I see you and I know you are close with Rav Chaim, I realize this would be appropriate for Rav Chaim to decide.

What is your connection to the story? The man said he is Shimon.

When Rav Chaim heard the story, he got very emotional and said "Ashreichem Yisrael - how fortunate Israel, that these are its halachik disputes!"

Rav Chaim continued weighing the various sides of the issue and decided that Shimon should continue to support Reuven. He gave him a Bracha that this should be a merit for him to see success once again in his business.

A few days later, the narrator was by Rav Steinman and related the incident to him.

Rav Steinman said that Rav Chaim was correct in his psak that Shimon should continue supporting Reuven, because Reuven Shabbos expenses are included in Shimons account. Why? because when Shimon sits at home on Shabbos and knows that Reuven is in such a dire situation, it bothers Shimon and he cannot enjoy Shabbos. So for Shimon to help Reuven, he is also helping himself enjoy Shabbos. Therefore, Reuvens expenses are also in Shimon's account.

he went back to Rav Chaim and told him what Rav Steinman said. Rav Chaim disagreed and said Rav Steinman's explanation is good from a mussar point of view, but from a halachik point of view that has no bearing. When Chazal said Shabbos expenses are not included, they were only referring to a person's direct expenses. Otherwise, there is no end - everybody will sit at his Shabbos table saying something disturbs him that other people are poor, etc., and if supporting others is included, all tzedaka for shabbos would be included too and that makes no sense.

Mi K'Amcha Yisrael!


  1. What we learn from this is that whether you support Lemaan Achai or "the Kupah", the money is coming out of the amount Hashem decided you would get that year.


  3. wait, so what was RCK's reason that Simon should still suppport reuven? If not the reason of RAYLS?

  4. it was not really clear. It mentioned two reasons that were considered, but they were both reasons why Reuven has a right to refuse, and RCK rejected both reasons.

    1. Sonei Matanos Yichyeh
    2.Reuven can say you can't make me take, because now your situation is also bad.

    1 was rejected because the Shach says hating gifts will cause life does not mean accepting gifts will "not live", and even though there is a Prisha that does say that, it does not apply for Shabbos.

    It does not explain why the second claim was rejected.

    Once Reuven had no right to refuse, I would assume that automatically Shuimon has a right to continue giving him the tzedaka. But that is an assumption and not definite.

  5. mi k'amcha yisroel.... on that note, please consider supporting the Sde Tzofim Baal Teshuva community in beitar's pesach campaign. thank you.

  6. Definition...Chossid Shoteh

  7. I saw it in the Mishpacha last week. R' Shlomo Levenstein told the story.


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