ArtScroll has just released Rav Chaim on Chumash (volume one – Sefer Bereishis), by Rabbi Shai Graucher – a collection of Rav Chaim Kanievsky’s writings on Chumash, together with stories about Rav Chaim and his illustrious family. We spoke with Rabbi Graucher about this exciting new project:
AS: How did you go about compiling Rav Chaim on Chumash?
RSG: After I saw the incredibly positive response to Rav Chaim’s sefer, Orchos Yosher, which ArtScroll published in English, and which included Maran’s Torah together with stories, it was only natural to move on to my next dream: a sefer of Rav Chaim’s Torah – and stories — on Chumash.
I went through dozens of Rav Chaim’s sefarim, and, of course, his monumental sefer on the Torah, Taama D’Kra. Together with a team of talmidei chachamim, I began the process of choosing what should be included. Then came the editing, translating, and polishing, until we were satisfied that this will be a classic that will grace every Shabbos table.
AS: Tell us a little about your relationship with Rav Chaim.
RSG: My connection with Rav Chaim began when I was quite young. I still remember the first time I came to him for a berachah. He lifted his piercing eyes from the Gemara and stared directly at me, and I could feel my little boy’s neshamah start to tremble. I remember his words so clearly: “If you want to learn – you will learn,” followed by his berachah: “You should grow up to be a talmid chacham.” I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything that touched me so deeply. Those words of his became my guiding light: “If you want to learn – you will learn.” Baruch Hashem, after I married I created a close relationship with him. I took every opportunity to visit him. All through Elul I traveled every day from Yerushalayim to Bnei Brak for vasikin davening with him; during Selichos I would arrive an hour earlier.
AS: How did Rav Chaim react when you brought him the sefer?
RSG: He expressed satisfaction from the “zikui ha’rabim” – those were his words. I made a “Shehecheyanu” on the sefer, we drank a l’chaim, and he gave me a berachah that I should merit to publish sefarim on all of Shas. With one dream fulfilled, I’ll be working on finishing the rest of this project and then – with the help of Hashem and Rav Chaim’s merit – there’s so much more to do!