Rav Chaim Kanievsky Served in the IDF


rav-chaim-kanievskyRav Shmuel Grossbard zt”l, father of one of the mashgichim in Ponevezh Yeshiva, passed away this past week. His children were surprised when Rav Chaim Kanievsky came in to be menachem avel, and were even more surprised with what he told them shortly after he arrived.

“You have no idea why I troubled myself to come console you?” Rav Kanievsky asked. “I have hakoras hatov for your father who was my commander in the army and helped me a lot.”

Those present were surprised by what he said that he had served in the army. One of those present had the courage to ask, “The rov was in the army? We never heard this before about our father, and about the rov even more so!”

Rav Kanievsky smiled and related to them, “It was during the War of Independence. I was then learning in the Yeshiva of Lomza in Petach Tikvah. The war started and everyone was drafted to the army – with no exceptions. Of course, we knew nothing, until one day a large vehicle pulled up outside the yeshiva and they said that everybody has to get in to go protect the country.

“Because none of us knew how to hold a gun,they gave us sticks and stones and put us out to guard a large hill. I remember everyone was very scared and Rav Berel Povarsky hid in a bathroom and got out of it. But Rav Moshe Soloveitchik and I, we went, and he was sitting beside me the whole time saying Tehillim while crying.

“Your father, z”l, was appointed as commander, because he was the oldest in the group. Because he was commander, he got the largest stick. When we got there, I asked him what we should do. He told me, ‘You should go up the hill and sit and learn where they can’t see you, but take a stick and two stones, so that if the Arabs come, you can scare them away.’ We sat there for a long time, and after we left the place, we were told the Arabs had shot to that same place.”

When he finished relating this story, Rav Chaim said, “Out of gratitude for then, I have come to console you.”

{Yair Alpert-Matzav.com Israel/Ladaat/Life in Israel}


  1. Wow!!!!!!!!!

    Every time R’ Chaim talks, I love him even more. He is such a simple true Yid, with no fanfare, no ego, no ga’avah.

    Just simple and truthful.

    What a role model!!!!!

  2. much as you like a good headline i see it as improper to use the kadosh elyons name in this context – if theres one yelud isha in our generation thats off limits to use for mundane silly gossip i think its rav chaim

  3. I agree with #3 it is improper in my opinion, althogh it got me to read. R’ Chaim is indeed the one of the Generals guarding Artzeinu Hakedosha. May he be Maarich Yomim Veshonim!

  4. There is no shame of serving in the IDF if it is to protect Klal Yisroel – on the contrary, it is an Inyan of Hatzolas Nefashos, and certainly under the circumstances in 1948. If anything, even in Yeshivos who don’t believe in the concept of Medinat Yisrael, and so don’t say the prayer for it every Shabbos morning like done in Modern Orthodox places, at least they should pray for the soldiers who are serving to put their lives on the line to protect the rest of the Jews in in Eretz Yisroel from the Moslem Arab terrorists, and if not the standard Nusach for the IDF soldiers, then in their own words or some other sort of Mi Shebarach to bless the ones who are protecting our lives in Eretz Yisroel, including the Charedi ones who refuse to pray for them to show their Hakoras Hatov, even and especially if they refuse to serve in the IDF.

  5. #5: I, as one charedi, say prayers and thanks for our soldiers all the time. I’m sure there are a lot of other charedim who do so also.

  6. Yishar Koach to #6. As per my post #5, there are Charedim that even serve in the IDF as their own decision. My point is that we all have to do something to help and protect Klal Yisroel, and if not in one way, then in another. When we realize that we are all one nation – just with differences of opinion as to the best way to protect Yidden & Eretz Yisroel within the confines of Halacha, then we can hope for Hashem’s Yeshuos before Lo Aleinu the Anti-Semitic remind us that a Jew is a Jew regardless of religious affiliation.

  7. To #8, if you were really savvy of what is going on in Israel, you would know that the IDF is controlled by the Medinat Yisrael government which gives in easily to the Arabs.
    It has been shown in the past that when the government lets the IDF, which today consists of a good percentage of Shomer Shabbos people, including a Charedi unit, do its job of fighting the enemy, they do a very good job. The practical difference is when the IDF is given orders that go contrary to the Torah that this separates the men from the boys. If the soldiers in the IDF were to listen to Binyamin Kahane ZTVK”L HY”D’s last message to take matters in their hands and not listen to the government when fighting the enemy, we would have far less problems today.

    The bottom line is that if a Jew has in mind when in an army to fight our people’s enemies, and fulfills his intentions, regardless of who is actually running the show, he is no less of a hero, and is no less Hatzolas Nefashos than Hatzala saving the life of an injured Jew – if anything, it’s called preventive medicine.