14 letters sent to a student in the 1940s will now be open to the public for the first time
Edited by: TJVNews.com
Fourteen letters penned in the 1940s by the legendary rabbi known as the ‘Hazon Ish’ have been donated to the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem by the family of their recipient, Rabbi Zvi Yehuda, one of the rabbi’s students.
The Hazon Ish (Rabbi Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz, 1878–1953), is considered to be one of the most influential rabbis of the 20th century. The letters to Yehuda reveal a very personal side to the revered spiritual leader.
In one instance, relating to Yehuda’s decision to join the army and enroll in secular studies, Karelitz responded, “I am rich with love for others, particularly toward you, a young person armed with talents and with an understanding heart… But when I saw the sudden change in you recently… I had to wait and process my great pain.”
Born in what is now Belarus, in 1933 Karelitz moved to the Land of Israel, with the help of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the first Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Mandatory Palestine, and a formative figure in the modern religious Zionist movement. Countless visitors flocked to Karelitz’s humble home in Bnei Brak during the last two decades of his life, from simple devout Jews to the leaders of the secular Zionist movement, including David Ben-Gurion, despite the fact that Karelitz was an opponent of Zionism.
As a teacher and halakhist (expert in Jewish law), Karelitz left an indelible mark on modern ultra-Orthodox Jewish thought and culture, which endures until today.
The letters have been donated to the National Library of Israel by Rabbi Yehuda’s widow, Hassia Yehuda, and his children Rachel Yehuda, Talli Yehuda Rosenbaum, and Gil Yehuda.
The Yehuda Family: “These letters represent a bond between two remarkable individuals; an unlikely teacher-student pair. We invite laypersons and scholars alike to access the letters, and learn about the teacher, the student, and their special connection.”
Dr. Yoel Finkelman, curator of the National Library of Israel’s Haim and Hanna Salomon Judaica Collection: “We are grateful to the Yehuda family and pleased that these letters will now be safeguarded among the National Library of Israel’s collections, alongside treasures from countless other significant Jewish and Israeli culture figures from Maimonides to Ben-Gurion.”
Special Online Event: Sunday, October 17, 2021
A free online event celebrating the arrival of the collection will be held on October 17th. The event will be moderated by Rabbi Zvi Yehuda’s daughter, Prof. Rachel Yehuda, and will include words from scholar Prof. Marc B. Shapiro; Hazon Ish biographer Prof. Benjamin Brown; and Rabbi Zvi Yehuda’s son, Gil Yehuda.
“The Hazon Ish Letters to Zvi Yehuda: Teacher, Student and Legacy”
Sunday, October 17th
8pm Israel time / 6pm UK / 1pm EST
For more information and registration, free of charge: https://www.nli.org.il/en/visit/events/hazon-ish
About the National Library of Israel
Founded in Jerusalem in 1892, the National Library of Israel (NLI) serves as the dynamic collective memory of the Jewish people worldwide and Israelis of all backgrounds and faiths. While continuing to serve as Israel’s pre-eminent research library, NLI is now in the midst of an ambitious journey of renewal to encourage diverse audiences in Israel and around the globe to engage with its treasures in new and meaningful ways. This is taking place through a range of innovative educational, cultural and digital initiatives, as well as through a new landmark campus designed by Herzog and de Meuron, with Mann-Shinar serving as the Executive Architect. The new campus is currently under construction adjacent to the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) in Jerusalem, and is on schedule to open its doors in 2022.