Thursday, 27 February 2014

Rabbi Shlomo Elyashiv - The Last Kabbalist

Rabbi Shlomo Elyashiv (1841-27 Adar 1926) - "The Last Kabbalist" - as the Chazon Ish called him. He was not just fluent in every aspect of the kabbalistic tradition but was able to teach some of the most complicated concepts in the most simple of terms.

His most famous work is known as the "Leshem Shvo Ve'Achlama" referring to the three stones in the third row, found in the breastplate (Chosen Mishpat) that the Kohen Gadol wore. Amazingly this line from Parshat Pekudei (Exodus 39:12) - which we read this week - usually falls in the week of the Yahrtzeit or just after! 

He is the grandfather of the late Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliashiv who was Niftar in 2012 at the age of 102! 

I have heard the following story and read it in a book - though all things considered I have questioned its authenticity. If anybody knows of the truth or falsehood of this story (and why perhaps it even came about or how) please let me know:

A story that goes back some 105 odd years is told about a lady who lived in the centre of Jerusalem. One day she was cleaning her and her husband's garments. In those days, there were no fancy washing machines nor driers. After hand-washing the items one by one taking much time, she hung them on the main outside line in the courtyard shared by many other neighbours.

A neighbour of hers who was upset by / about something cut the washing line and the freshly laundered garments fell into the dirty mud below. The lady - whose name was Chaya Moussia - picked them up one by one - only to have to clean them all again! 

When her husband returned, she said nothing of the despicable story that had occurred. 

The same day, the lady who had recklessly cut the washing line returned home to find her son with an immensely bad fever. She was in a state, and not knowing what to do, she made her way immediately to the Rabbi of Jerusalem - Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld! He enquired from her, if perhaps she had done something bad that day that may have warranted the possibility of such a punishment being imposed upon her from Above. She told the Rav that indeed she had caused much aggravation to a neighbour by soiling her washed clothing... 

He told the woman that without any delay - she was to go to the lady and ask forgiveness, and that he would go together with her. They knocked on the door and were greeted by the warm smile of Chaya Moussia. Her husband - Rabbi Avraham - came to the door as he heard some commotion going on. He asked about the visit and was told about the story that had occurred that day. 

"Do you mean to say," Rabbi Sonnenfeld asked the the husband, "that you knew nothing of the event?" The husband replied that indeed his wife had not so much as whispered a word! The wife on her side had preferred not to speak words of Lashon Hara and had kept quiet! 

So impressed was Rabbi Sonnenfeld with her behaviour and her spiritual beauty, he asked her if there was anything she needed in her life. She told him that since she was already "old in days" and not blessed with children, that she wanted only one thing... a child! 

With that, Rabbi Sonnenfeld gave his blessing and the couple were blessed shortly thereafter with a son... That son, and grandson of the Leshem - Rabbi Shlomo Elyashiv who had only one daughter - was none other than Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliashiv, the great Posek of our generation!!! (Indeed his first name was named for the Rabbi who gave the blessing!) 

Amazingly, Rabbi Shlomo had only one daughter (who it seemed would never "bear fruit",) but it is known that at the time that his grandson died, he (the grandson - Rabbi Yosef Shalom) was blessed with more than 1000 descendants!!! 

Rabbi Shlomo Elyashiv was truly one of the last of the real kabbalists around. His daughter is buried in the Sanhedria cemetery - almost right next to the Tzaddik Rabbi Aryeh Levin - whose daughter married her son! 

We go there often to pray...

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