Avraham Yeshayahu Karelitz Is Born Avraham Yeshayahu Karelitz. Photo: Hildabroot

November 7, 1878

Avraham Yeshayahu Karelitz, who becomes one of the 20th century’s leading Talmud scholars, is born in Kosava, Russia, now part of Belarus, to the head of the local rabbinical court, Rabbi Shmaryahu Yosef Karelitz, and his wife, Rasha, the daughter of a rabbi. Avraham and his younger brothers, Meir, Yitzchak and Moshe, all become rabbis.

As a boy, Karelitz studies under Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik of Brisk but does not take to and even opposes the Brisker method. After two years, he returns home to study under his father instead. His passion and diligence for Torah study are noticed at an early age, and he also learns math and science.

He publishes his first commentary on Orach Chayim and other parts of the Shulchan Aruch in 1911 in Vilna but uses the pseudonym Chazon Ish (Vision of Man). The commentary is widely praised in the rabbinic world, and Karelitz becomes known as the Chazon Ish. He produces dozens of volumes of commentary on the Talmud.

His wife, Bashe Bei, supports the couple’s modest life while the rabbi studies and writes day and night, and they never have children.

Karelitz and his wife settle in the Land of Israel in 1933, and thousands of Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) followers seek his guidance there. His teachings contribute to the development of a strong Haredi society in Israel. Karelitz dies in Tel Aviv in 1953.