Avraham Yeshayahu Karelitz ("Hazon Ish")
(1878 - 1953)
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