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Avraham Yeshayahu Karelitz ("Hazon Ish")

(1878 - 1953)


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An outstanding Talmud scholar, Karelitz was educated by his father, Av Bet Din (head of the rabbinical court) in Kossow, Poland. His first work on several parts of the Shulhan Aruch was published anonymously in Vilna in 1911 under the title Hazon Ish (visionary), by which name he became known. He moved to Vilna about 1920 and moved to Eretz Yisrael in 1933, settling in Bnei B'rak. He became a teacher and guide for thousands while maintaining his extreme modesty. He wrote more than 40 books on religious topics, all of which are known for their lucid, uncomplicated style.

From an early age, Karelitz showed unusual talent. He devoted his life to Torah study, but was also versed in sciences ranging from astronomy, anatomy, mathematics and botany. After his marriage, he led an extremely modest life, allowing his wife to prove for their needs while he studied day and night.

His first book, established his reputation as a scholar with vast knowledge and profound insight. When he lived in Vilna, he was frequently consulted on religious and community matters by Rav Hayyim Ozer Grodzinski. He had a reputation for saintliness which brought a constant stream of people to seek his opinion or to receive his blessing.

After moving to Israel, he became recognized as an authority of all matters relating to Jewish law and life. He had strong influence on religious life and institutions, despite the fact that he was not head of any yeshiva. He became a halachic authority without publishing many responsa. He was once consulted by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion on the question of drafting young women to the Israel Defense Forces. A lover of Zion, he was not an official member of the Zionist movement. Neither was he a Hassid nor an extremist. He considered study of Jewish law and attainment of a maximum degree of perfection in religious observance as man's duty in life. Although principally an academic scholar, he applied himself to practical problems such as the use of milking machines on Shabbat and the cultivation of hydroponics during the sabbatical year, when it is forbidden to cultivate land in Eretz Yisrael.


Sources: Joint Authority for Jewish Zionist Education

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