Chazon Ish: Tenant May Be Evicted


chazon-ishA recession by definition means that there are fewer jobs available and fewer deals being made. Thus, conventional wisdom says that it is less likely that you will become rich during a recession. That is how it looks on the surface. However, we believe that there are deeper, spiritual reasons why people become rich. Of course, there are many possible reasons why G-d might make one person wealthy and another needy, but there are some strategies that improve your chances of being on the receiving end of G-d’s bounty. And from a spiritual vantage point, the recession offers a great ‘business opportunity’; namely, acquiring for yourself the merit of acting with honesty and integrity during a financial crisis. Dealing ‘on the up and up’ while business is down is a great way to show G-d that He can trust you with more of His wealth. The following story found in the sefer Aleinu L’shabeach, parashas Kedoshim, page 314, helps illustrate this point.

Rabbi Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz, zt”l, known as the Chazon Ish, was once asked by a certain landlord if he was permitted to evict his tenant. The landlord explained that the tenant had been living in the apartment for many years and was still paying the same rent as he had ten years earlier. The tenant was a poor man with a large family and he simply could not pay more than that. However, the neighborhood in which the apartment was located had become a very popular one and rents had significantly increased. The tenant claimed that he was protected by Israeli secular law which made illegal the eviction of a tenant in order to raise the rent.

The Chazon Ish ruled that Israeli secular law was not binding upon the landlord and that he could evict the tenant. Furthermore, he said that, if the tenant would not leave, the Torah would consider him to be a thief. The Chazon Ish knew how difficult it would be for the tenant to follow his ruling so he himself went to the apartment to inform the tenant that he must leave.

The tenant asked the Chazon Ish, “Rebbe, what should I do, I have no place to go!” The Chazon Ish told him that it would be better for him and his family to sleep in the park than to be guilty of stealing. Certainly, the tenant faced a difficult financial situation if there ever was one. What would you do?

The tenant was a righteous person who feared G-d. He understood that according to the Torah he must leave the apartment, and that is what he did. He took his wife, his children, and all his worldly possessions and went to live in the park.

When the Chazon Ish heard that the tenant had accepted his ruling and was now living in the park, he went to visit him and he gave him a blessing. He told the man that since he had proven to G-d without a shadow of a doubt that he was a man of great integrity, G-d would bless him with the joy of walking all of his children to their chupah, the wedding canopy, and with the financial means to buy each of them a beautiful apartment. The author of Aleinu L’shabeach, HaRav Yitzchok Zilberstein, writes that he kept a close eye on this man and his family to see what would become of the Chazon Ish’s blessing. And indeed, HaRav Zilberstein attests to the fact that the man did merit seeing each of his children happily married and living in a beautiful apartment.

When did this poor tenant become rich? Was it later on when he made a few good business deals and the money started flowing, or was it when he was sleeping in the park with his family struggling to keep his integrity? Maybe the recession offers more ‘economic opportunity’ than first imagined.

{How to Become Rich During a Recession – By Rabbi Tzvi Price, Bais Havaad L’Iyonei Mishpat/ Newscenter}


  1. This is a very difficult story to digest. I see the Tzidkus of the tenant leaving and going to the park. It’s unbelievable! He listened to Daas Torah. Were there no Organizations at the time to deal with such Aneyim?! The community just let a family suffer like that?!
    My bigger question is regarding the landlord. Even though the “Halacha” was (according to the Chazon Ish Z”L) that the tenant had to leave, it shows a cold heartless landlord! There is a concept of being a “Nuvul bershus hatorah”! The lanlord knew that the tenant was not faking his poverty. He knew that the alternative was that his entire family would literally be on the street/park with no roof over their head, no bathroom facility’s, no refridgeration for basic food items, endless embarressment, etc… Do you think HKB”H looked down upon this landlord with happiness? Do you think this act of the landlord caused a Nachas Ruach by the Borei Olam? Do you think it brought BRACHA to the landlords family?
    What ever did happen to the landlords family? Did Rav Zilberstein follow that family closely? The story conveniently leaves out that part out!

  2. The Chazon Ish ruled that Israeli secular law was not binding upon the landlord and that he could evict the tenant.

    Does this pertain to driving rules, traffic violations, sales tax, safety regulations in schools, bus scheduling and ANY and ALL of ISRAELI SECULAR LAW?
    I find it hard to believe that the Chazon Ish meant this, probably in the case of the tenent (sort of like rent control)the law was not binding!!

  3. ‘Mystified’
    Your issue is really with the psak of the Chazon Ish, but you can’t call the Chazon Ish ‘cold and heartless’ and a ‘naval birshus haTorah’ Chas V’shalom, so you conveniently blame it on the on the landlord. The Chazon Ish knew that he was going to have to go to the park, and it does not sound like he tried to persuade the landlord otherwise, but he still issued the psak. This just goes to show how da’as ba’al habayis is hepech daas Torah.I do not claim to know the reasoning of the psak, but please be careful before using such language about the psak of a Gadol.

  4. Yes. The Chazon Ish did mean that. It is said that the Chazon Ish said that the is no Dina D’malchusa Dina in the state of Israel, and that if someone can he can phisically walk out with a chair from the Knesset and keep it. P.S. I personally wouldn’t care for a smelly chair that came from that place!

  5. “if someone can he can phisically walk out with a chair from the Knesset and keep it.”

    That’s not dinei malchus, it’s gezeila!

  6. This story is very questionable and has likely evolved over time till this current version, as the Chazon Ish is known to have said that in E”Y there is generally no Dina Demalchusa Dina rather Chamsanusa DeMedina, Except for the Driving Laws & Tenant Protection that we go with the Law of the Land.

  7. Also if you take a look at the sefer Emek Hamishpat (Inyaney Sechirus Batim) Chelek 5, Daf 552 (many other marei mekoimos available upon request) you will understand that in this story the tenant originally moved in BEFORE the Tenant Protection laws were enacted and was therefore not protected under the minhag of going w/ the DDM”D in that case. However, if he would’ve taken residence AFTER the Chok Haganat Hadayar was in place.. then the Heilige chazon Ish would’ve handed down a different psak.

  8. To bac:
    You’re obviously a landlord!

    “it does not sound like he tried to persuade the landlord otherwise”.

    Do you know that for a fact?

  9. I sure hope that R’ Price isn’t paskening shailos based on stories he reads in sefarim that have chumash vertlach..

  10. Rav Henkin lists rent control laws as THE example of where Dina D’Malchusa would create Minhog H’Mokom( even without dina d’malchus)Rav Moshe Feinstein also writes about rent control laws that if they in force prior to a tenant moving in if would be like a T’Nai caused by Minhog H’Mokom.He has a lentghy Teshuva to discuss the status of rent control laws enacted later on.I do not believe the story with the CI.Even if true it (unless many details are missing which makes the story untrue anyway)it doesn’t take away from the landlord’s rishus.The Chofetz Chaim used to repeat frequently to his children the tremendous O’nesh he saw befall a landlord who removed the roof of a tenant who couldn’t pay the rent.Period.Not just not able to afford a rent increase.For those who believe the story.Why in is the ‘Poretz’ who evicted his non able to afford the rent tenant always the bad guy in the stories about him?

  11. I wasn’t at there when this story happened. Neither were you. They maybe there is more to the story that was left out.

    But one thing is for sure: The Chazon Ish was Daas Torah 100%.

    I am vehemently protesting against any degradation of the Chazon Ish, even in the slightest way.

    I love the Chazon Ish and everything he stood for. He was more of an angel than a human being. Read books about him. They make you tremble with fear of his greatness. How dare you mention anything derogatory about him. Who do you think you are????

  12. Yes, being a landlord has a tremendous achraiyus. Ze lo pashut. It’s not just about collecting rent.
    I would never want to be a landlord.

  13. Mystified, “there were takeh NO organizations back then”(Chazon Ish was nistalek in 1953).
    Landlord was, probably… but maybe, definetly, frei. He knew that Medinas Yisroel authorities were weak then, and his only hope in the situation was to go to Maran HaKoidesh Ve’HaTohor, zy’a(who was availiable for EVERYONE 24 hours per day) and ask for help…
    SimpleFellow, thank you very much but by now everyone in the Torah Community knows this