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Sep 22, 2011

Rav Chaim Kanievsky, the Litvishe-Hassidic-Sephardic Rav

Back in the day, you knew you could always count on Litvishe rabbonim being Litvishe, Hassidic being hassidic, and Sphardic being sephardic (in no particular order). Nowadays, you cannot even be sure of that!

Rav Chaim Kanievsky is no longer a Litvishe rav, but he is some combination of Morrocan -Hassidic. Almost like calling the baba's of the Abuchatzeira family "Admor", as the title is are commonly added to their names...

How so, you used to be able to go and buy a bottle of wine, supposedly blessed by the baba Sali or Rav Kaduri or somone else of similar stature, and maybe he had even had a drink from the bottle, or from some previous gilgul of that wine that was then mixed into 500 other barrels of wine, and you would pay some good money to get wine from a sephardic mekubal, and shalom al yisrael. Some hassidic rebbes did similar stuff, handing out shirayim or fruit or dollar bills or whatever, and it would supposedly be a source of blessing for the recipient.

The Litvishe were never into that stuff. The rabbonim were definitely not into it, and if a layman would go buy one of these things he had to have a great explanation as to why he did, otherwise his friends would look at him suspiciously.

In the past couple of years ads have been put out, by Kupat Ha'Ir no less, hawking bottles of wine blessed by Rav Chaim Kanievsky. Just as if he came to Israel straight from Morocco or Baghdad. He is now competing with Rav Kaduri.

And now, the latest ad and fundraiser is that Rav Chaim Kanievsky will:

  • personally select 8 very special esrogs which will then be raffled off among the donors.
  • along with other gedolei yisroel (rabbonim not important enough to be named) send out very special and rare flasks of very special honey, especially sweet honey, that is blessed for you to have on your table for the Day of Judgement!

So Rav Chaim Kanievsky has now been turned into the whole spectrum of Klal Yisrael in one swoop - he is the ultimate - the Litvishe-Hassidic-Sephardic rav!

caveat: I am not scoffing at Rav Kanievsky, but at those who have done this to him)


  1. This shows how great the esteem for R. Chaim is, in that so many varied segments of Klal Yisroel are vying for his attention and endorsement. He is seen as genuine and the real thing.

    Another illustration of this is that he just was asked by Breslovers for an endorsement for their approaching 'tikkun klali haolami'.

    Rav Chaim is not your typical gadol, as he has a different derech halimud than the typical current Litvishe one, and has been an independent scholar, rather than the typical Rav, Rosh Yeshiva, or Rebbe.

    Do keep in mind however, the following.

    1) He is actually of Hassidic descent.

    2) The great need for tzedokoh can make organizations resort to such innovative, desparate measures, which otherwise might have been rejected.

    3) Just because he might 'go along' with something, מפני השלום, doesn't mean that he is totally ecstatic about it and harbors no reservations. E.g. he cuts the hair of young boys (upsherin), even though his father refused to do so. Presumably he believes that not everyone is on the level of understanding certain things and that needs to be taken into account when relating to them.

  2. actually what this shows is the power of money and greed, at best. at worst it has shades of avodah zarah.

  3. Welcome to the cynical world of "marketing"!

  4. How so, you used to be able to go and buy a bottle of wine, supposedly blessed by the baba Sali or Rav Kaduri or somone else of similar stature,

    This sounds so .. so .. so Christian to me. It's almost classic avoda zara.

    Shabbat Shalom all.


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