Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, this generation’s preeminent Torah leader and known among the Haredim “the Prince of Torah,” passed away on Friday during Shushan Purim at 94. Born in Poland in 1928, Rabbi Kanievsky moved to Israel with his family when he was six years old and never left the country.
Largest in Israel’s history
Police expect his funeral in Bnei Brak at noon on Sunday to be the largest in Israel’s history. Some estimates place the expected attendance of the funeral at one million people.
Despite Jewish law stating it is customary to bury the dead on the day they die, leading rabbis decided it was best to hold Kanievsky’s funeral on Sunday, following consultations.
Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was stuck for over an hour at Kanievsky’s home after coming to pay respects due to the intense crowding in the area.
Watch | Hundreds of thousands of Israelis take part in the funeral procession of Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, one of Israel’s most prominent ultra-Orthodox rabbis, in the Israeli colonial settlement of Bnei Brak. pic.twitter.com/Gh3At3BHhh
— Aljarmaqnews (@Aljarmaqnetnews) March 20, 2022
Rabbi Kanievsky never made public statements concerning the Messiah until 2011, when he shocked his followers by interpreting the Arab Spring uprisings as evidence that the Messiah might be near. These statements became more frequent and more intense. In 2015, following the 2014 Jerusalem synagogue attack, he repeatedly referred to the imminent arrival of the Messiah. He urged diaspora Jews to make aliyah (immigrate to Israel), reportedly resulting in the arrival of a substantial number of French Jews. In February 2020, shortly before the Israeli legislative elections, it was reported that Rabbi Kanievsky had stated that the coming of the Messiah was imminent and that he was holding meetings with him.
To save the generation.
Rabbi Yosef Berger, a former member of the Sanhedrin and the son of the Mishkoltz Rebbe,
“The righteous of the generation, especially one as great as Rabbi Kanievsky, are taken to save the generation from trials and tribulations that are coming,” Rabbi Berger said. “In the last generation, no rabbi spoke about the imminent Messiah-like Rabbi Kanievsky did. He requested from me that since the Messiah is about to be revealed, anyone who wants to be spared from the birth pangs that precede the Messiah should immediately begin learning Torah and performing acts of loving-kindness. He told me to shout this from the rooftops, to announce it on loudspeakers, anything to get the people to listen.”
Messiah is only getting closer.
“As time goes on, the Messiah is only getting closer,” Rabbi Berger said. “It is a matter of life and death for people to understand this now.”
Rabbi Berger cited that Talmud (Sanhedrin 97a), which states that in the generation before the Messiah reveals himself, Torah scholars will decrease in number.
“There is no other tzaddik (righteous man) waiting in the wings to lead the generation,” Rabbi Berger said. “This is the last signpost before Messiah.”
It should also be noted that on the same day that Rabbi Kanievsky left the world, Rabbi Amram Vaknin passed away. Rabbi Vakhnin was known for his deep connection to the Prophet Elijah and his prophetic visions.