Rav Chaim Kanievsky: “When I Was A Child, It Was Hard For Me To Learn”


rav-chaim-kanievskyRecently, a group of yeshiva students from the northern Israeli town of Naharia visited Rav Chaim Kanievsky at his home in Bnei Brak. The bochurim were at all different stages of strengthening themselves in Yiddishkeit, and their rebbi, who had helped them find a life of devotion to Torah and mitzvos, told Rav Chaim that many of the boys found it difficult to spend long hours engaged in Torah learning.

According to a report in Yated Ne’eman, Rav Chaim smiled and said, “Today, people think that it is easy to learn. When I was a child, it was often hard for me to learn all the time. Once, my father, the Steipler Gaon, put me on his lap and related a story about two of his friends from yeshiva during his own youth. There came a time when one of them decided that it was time for him to leave yeshiva and seek a way to earn a living. When his friend tried to dissuade him from leaving yeshiva, he said, ‘I find learning so difficult.'”

The friend who remained in yeshiva found him later digging up a field with a shovel and asked him, “Tell me, this work is not harder than learning in yeshiva?” The friend replied, “Learning is much harder.”

Several weeks later, the yeshiva bochur found his friend laying bricks. “Do you think laying bricks on a high scaffold in the boiling sun is easier than learning in yeshiva?” The friend replied that learning is still harder.

A month later, the yeshiva bochur found his friend carrying a very heavy burden on his back and asked him, “That, too, is easier than learning in yeshiva?” The former yeshiva bochur answered, “This is just beginning to approach the difficulty of learning.”

When Rav Chaim finished the story, he gave chizuk to the bochurim saying, “Of course learning is difficult, but after working hard at it, it becomes much easier.”

{Yated Ne’eman}

{Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Nowhere in this story does it say what the headline says- that R” Chaim for Rav Chaim to learn. Rather, it says that it wa hard for him to learn all the time.Big difference.

  2. What about giving to kids and teenagers that are not interested in learning , easier material like Chumash Mishnayos and Kitzur Shulcan Aruch? and easier types of gemarah?

  3. That the Steipler tried to be mechazek him when it was hard for him as a child by illustrating how learning would always be the hardest thing around?!?!

  4. #1 of course it is hard for him. If LEfum Tzarah Agra means that the bigger the mitzvah, then the harder it is, so if Talmud Torah Keneged Kulam, then Torah HAS to be the hardest Mitzvah!

  5. #4 perhaps a couple things the story illustrates is 1. That learning is supposed to be hard and that one shouldn’t feel bad or put himself down if he is having difficulty. 2. Look at the alternative schlepping back breaking loads, (or alternatively writing useless reports and sitting in meeting that don’t go anywhere etc.) Maybe the friend still in yeshiva was trying to convey this message to his working friend. What better is there to do?

  6. number four , are you asking a “kasha oif a maaseh”??
    who knows if this story is portrayed accurately, and anyway OBVIOUSLY whatever the steipler did – worked . look at R’ Chaim now

  7. My son hated learning. He went to TJ in Israel. And now he loves it and is very very good at it. Not sure exactly the problem with what we are doing, but that place has it down.

  8. Going to work should not be presented as the option for those who finding learning difficult.
    Working for ones livelihood is a Mitzvah, especially to support ones family and to give Tzedokoh.
    In Europe it was common for people to learn 2-3 hours before business and 2-4 hours after business.