Rav Chatzkel’s Remarks at the Chasunah of Rav Dovid Kviat zt”l


rav-chatzkelBy Rabbi Yair Hoffman
Note: Over 63 years ago, Reb Chatzkel Levenstein zt”l, the mashgiach of the Mirrer Yeshiva in Shanghai and of the Ponevezh Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, spoke at the wedding of Rav Dovid Kviat zt”l.
Rav Kviat was a member of the nesius of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah; the mechaber of numerous sefarim on Shas (Succas Dovid), Chumash, and the moadim; a rosh yeshiva in the Mirrer Yeshiva in Brooklyn; and the rav of the Eighteenth Avenue Agudah in Brooklyn. The wedding of Rabbi Dovid Kviat, ylc”t, and Rebbitzen Dvorah nee Lieberman, a”h, took place in Brooklyn on 2 Tammuz, 5707 (on the evening of June 19, 1947). This was Rav Levenstein’s speech:

“Shlomo HaMelech writes (Shir HaShirim 8:9), ‘Eem chomah hee, nivneh alehah tiras kasef.’ Rashi explains this pasuk, ‘If her [this nation’s] faith and belief are as strong as a wall, withstanding incursions from beyond, we shall become her fortress and beauty.’
“We can observe from this pasuk that the underlying nature of the Jewish nation is that they are as solid as iron, unfazed by any and all circumstances and situations. We see it in Megilas Esther (5:9), ‘Mordechai…did not rise and did not stir before him [Haman].’ We see it from the Talmud (Beitzah 25b), ‘There are three that are fiercely bold, Israel among the nations, a dog before animals, and a rooster among chickens.’

“Indeed, it is this quality which has allowed the nation of Israel to endure.

“The Midrash states (Vayikra Rabbah 32:5), ‘There are four reasons why Israel was redeemed, that they did not change their names.’ They did not change because of this quality of which we speak.

“It is on account of this very quality that they merited to become close to Hashem as the pasukim say (Devarim 7:7-8), ‘Not because you are more numerous than all the nations…Rather because of Hashem’s love for you.’ The Ramban explains that the essential love that Hashem has for the Bnei Yisrael is because by nature they are fit for this. For the nation of Israel has stood by Hashem in all its trials. When challenged by the other nations of the world they have stubbornly responded (Sh’mos Rabbah 42:9), ‘We will either remain as Jews or we will be nailed to the stake!’

“It is with this concept that the Sabbah of Kelm explained the Gemara in Kesuvos (77b). The Gemara explains that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi was so great that when he was ill the Heavenly court instructed the Angel of Death to go to him and fulfill anything that he wishes. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi requested to see his ultimate resting place in Gan Eden, but first asked the Angel of Death for his knife. The Angel of Death complied with the requests. When he was shown the place, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi jumped over to the other side. The Angel of Death held onto him by the edge of his cloak. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi swore an oath that he will not come back. What was the Angel of Death to do? Hashem Himself responded and ruled, ‘If Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi in his lifetime had ever annulled an oath, he must go back and cannot enter Gan Eden alive. If he had never annulled an oath then he may remain.’ The Sabbah of Kelm explained that if he had ever annulled an oath he would have been lacking ever so slightly in deveikus Bashem and he may only enter Olam HaBa through the Angel of Death. But if he had never annulled an oath in his life, it is a sign that he had complete deveikus to Hashem and the decree does not apply to him.

“This is the concept of a misas neshikah-death through a Divine kiss-that they [these righteous people] merit to cleave to Hashem within their lifetime.

“It is this quality which we see in our chasan. He is undeterred by any situation. He remains unchanged, solid as a door, under all circumstances. He will therefore merit all the good, kol tuv, and will surely build his house as a tiras kasef, a turret of silver.”

Rav Levenstein was, of course, remarkably prescient. Rav Kviat taught numerous talmidim, and wrote many dozens of sefarim that are still in use today. Roshei yeshiva all across the world use the Succas Dovid on Shas to prepare shiurim. He is a rosh yeshiva’s rosh yeshiva. The remarkable determination of Rav Kviat in continuing to write sefarim and learn Torah under all circumstances is unparalleled and speaks volumes of Rav Chatzkel’s insight. May Rav Kviat be a meilitz yosher for all of Klal Yisroel.

{Translated and annotated by Rabbi Yair Hoffman. The translator may be reached at yairhoffman2@gmail.com.}

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