Rabbi Shmaryahu Yosef Chaim Kanievsky, an Israeli Haredi posek who was considered the leading halakhic authority in Haredi Jewish society, passed away on Friday at age 94 (January 8, 1928 – March 18, 2022 / Shushan Purim 5782)
On Friday afternoon, first-response teams were called to the rabbi’s house on Rashbam Street in Bnei Brak due to a sudden deterioration in his condition after several days in which he did not feel well and was being treated at home. The first-response teams carried out a prolonged resuscitation operation until they had to declare his death.
Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky was born in 1928, in Pinsk, Poland, to Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky, known as the Steipler Gaon, and Rebbetzen Miriam Karelitz, the sister of Rabbi Avraham Yeshayahu Karelitz, the Chazon Ish. He married Batsheva Elyashiv, daughter of Rabbi Yosef Sholom Eliashiv.
In his youth, he was known as a brilliant child prodigy with an eidetic memory who was able to explain complicated rabbinic texts. During Israel’s War of Independence, as a student at the Lomza Yeshiva, Rabbi Kanievsky enlisted in the IDF and was assigned to stand guard near Jaffa.
His wife died in 2011. He lived in Bnei Brak, where he issued rulings for thousands of Jews every year.
Since the passing of Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman in 2017, Rabbi Kanievsky was considered one of the most accepted leaders of the Israeli Haredi community.
During the Gulf War, Rabbi Kanievsky promised that no Iraqi missiles would fall in Bnei Brak––relying on a similar statement by his uncle the Chazon Ish. He made a similar promise during the 2012 Gaza war.
Despite the opposition to Zionism, Rabbi Kanievsky ruled that land in Eretz Israel should not be sold to a gentile.
Last Saturday night, a video was released that had been shot some 15 years ago in which Rabbi Kanievsky is heard ruling that a contractor should not hire a gentile over a Jew, even if hiring a gentile is cheaper (Rabbi Kanievsky: It’s Improper to Hire a Gentile).
Rabbi Kanievsky’s funeral will take place on Sunday. He will be buried at the Zichron Meir Shomrei Shabbat cemetery in Bnei Brak, next to his father and his uncle the Chazon Ish.