Auction No. 106

Letters by A. Einstein and Other Illustrious Personalities, Zionism, Jewish Art, letters of Rabbis and Rebbes and Collection of letters to Sir Moses Montefiore from the archive of the late Rabbi Avraham Shisha - London - Buyer's commission 22%

March 6, 2018
Opening $ 20,000
Estimate $ 50,000 - $ 70,000
Sold for $ 41,480
Including buyer's premium

Letter handwritten by the Chafetz Chaim in [1926] regarding his planned immigration to the Land of Israel and questions regarding the house being constructed for him in Petach Tikvah.

Background: The Chafetz Chaim's greatest dream and desire was to move to the Holy Land. He was imbued with this longing and yearned to settle the Land. Already in 1880, he made a condition with his son-in-law that though he was taking responsibility for supporting him, his son-in-law would not be able to prevent him from moving to the Land of Israel. He did the same with all of his sons-in-law, and made the same condition in 1903, when he married his second wife, Miriam Frieda.
However, his mammoth efforts and worries on behalf of his yeshiva and the Torah institutions in the Diaspora prevented him from fulfilling his dreams. Upon the establishment of the "Vaad HaYeshivot," which the Chafetz Chaim viewed as an economic anchor for yeshivot, he once again attempted to fulfill his dreams and immigrate to the Holy Land. When the Lithuanian rabbis heard about this decision, they gathered in the home of Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinsky, Av Beit Din of Vilna, and decided to ask the Chafetz Chaim to push off his trip in order to further strengthen the Vaad HaYeshivot with his influence. Rabbi Chaim Ozer's request bore fruit, and the Chafetz Chaim pushed off his trip until Rosh Chodesh Elul, 1925. That is when he sent a farewell letter to his brethren in the Diaspora and packed his belongings for the trip. However, he was again visited by another delegation of Roshei Yeshiva, headed by Rabbi Baruch Ber Leibowitz. Rabbi Leibowitz cried mournful tears and begged the Chafetz Chaim to stay in Europe at least until after Sukkot to assure the continued existence of the yeshivot. The Chafetz Chaim assented and pushed off his trip until the very last day that his travel documents were valid - Tuesday, Parshat Lech Lecha, 1926.

Specifications: [1] lined paper. 21x13 cm. The entire letter - all 22 lines - was written and signed by the Chofetz Chaim. All the text is clear and legible.

Unique Features: This rare letter from the Chafetz Chaim relates to this point in the story of his attempts to immigrate. It was written on Wednesday of parshat VaYera 1926, and it provides a detailed description of the chain of events that prevented him from moving to the Holy Land until then, and includes a request to clarify a few things that were important to him.

"I was almost completely ready to travel to the Holy Land," Rabbi Yisroel Meir HaKohen relates. "And now, it was Heavenly ordained that my spouse became very weak with a disease with clear danger, and we were forced to travel with her to the hospital in Vilna. With G-d's compassion, she is no longer in danger, but she still needs mercy ... and this is what delays me right now."

The Chafetz Chaim asks for clarification regarding a few details:

1> Is the house being constructed for him in Petach Tikvah complete, or still in the middle of construction?
2> What can be done about the immigration certificate that expired while his wife was recuperating?
3> What is the physical condition of the Torah institutions in Petach Tikvah?
4> Is it possible to hire a maid?
5> How is his son-in-law, Rabbi Aharon HaKohen?

The end of the story is well known. His wife recuperated that year (refer to Shnot Dor V'Dor, section 1, p. 292), and they were able to procure new certificates. However, the day they arrived, his daughter became ill. And after that, his doctors advised the Chafetz Chaim that the long journey was dangerous in his poor health and old age. The Chafetz Chaim made peace with staying in Europe and said that the trip was being intercepted from the Heavens (refer to HaChafetz Chaim U'Pualo, by M. M. Yashar, section 2, p. 608-617).

Apart from this letter's being historic, written and signed by the Chafetz Chaim and discussing an idea that was so close to his heart - his wish to live in the Holy Land and serve Hash-m in peace and quiet in a small settlement absorbed with the holiness of the Land of Israel, it is a spiritual asset and a tremendous merit for the one who keeps it in his home, as expressed by the addressee.

This is apparently one of the most unique, important letters known today written in the hand of Rabbi Yisrael Meir HaKohen of Radin, author of the Chafetz Chaim and Mishna Berura.

Additional letter: The Chafetz Chaim's house in Petach Tikva.
When the Chafetz Chaim considered moving to the Land of Israel, he decided to settle in a small village, in the Mother of the Settlements, Petach Tivka. The communal activists built a home especially for him, fundraising for its construction from donors around the world. This lot includes a letter dated Kislev 1926, from Rabbi Dov Ber Abramowitz, Av Beit Din of St. Louis and then in Jerusalem. The letter is addressed to an American philanthropist and notes that they are $1000 short "of completing the home of the righteous person, the pillar of righteousness in our generation ... and know the building is almost finished ... and the check will help us very much. Because the righteous one of our generation, the Chafetz Chaim shlit"a is about to travel here, and he asked if the home is finished, as your honor will see in the Chafetz Chaim's letter that is enclosed here ... to enhance the home of the righteous person whose name will be a designated place for Torah, sanctity and purity." The letter notes that the great rabbi's merit will certainly protect everyone who assists in this manner. The letter is also signed by Rabbi Yisrael Aharon Braverman, in the name of his father Rabbi Zerach Braverman.
The house was completed and a celebration was held for the "Chanukat HaBayit" (refer to Zichron Shlomo, Jerusalem 1972, p. 23). Since the Chafetz Chaim did not merit to move to the Land of Israel, the house on Montefiore Street was transferred to the Lomza Yeshiva that is nearby. Today the Birkat Yaakov Talmud Torah uses the building.
Background: The addressee, Rabbi David Potash, was a confidante of the Torah leaders, and the Chafetz Chaim chose him to help him procure the immigration documents and settle in the Land of Israel. In the margins of Rabbi Abramowitz's letter, he asks, "Please return the letter from Rabbeinu HaTzaddik shlit"a, because Rabbi David Potash wants to retain the letter as a spiritual asset."

Condition: Fine-very fine. Solitary light stains. Minimal creases.

Manuscripts & letters. Ashkenaz