Auction 86 - Part I - Rare & Important Items

Letter from the Chafetz Chaim – For the Rabbinical Conference in Kraków – Hrodna, Elul 1924 – Good Year Wishes

Opening: $10,000
Estimate: $20,000 - $30,000
Sold for: $13,750
Including buyer's premium
Lengthy letter (3 pages) with the full signature of R. "Yisrael Meir HaKohen, author of Chafetz Chaim and Mishna Berura". Hrodna (Grodno), Elul 1924.
Written by a scribe, with the line of the signature handwritten by the Chafetz Chaim.
The letter was sent to the World Rabbinical Conference taking place at that time in Kraków. The Chafetz Chaim writes that due to his weakness and old age, he is unable to make this long journey to Kraków, "I am unable to come participate in your esteemed conference. I am hereby sending my words via the rabbis, bearers of this letter, regarding one critical matter…". The Chafetz Chaim urges them to devise a plan of action to save the yeshivot, which were in dire straits due to financial crises. He mentions the objective of his stay in Hrodna – to participate in a meeting for saving the yeshivot, and he writes that two meetings on the matter had already taken place: "…the first one in Vilna and now in Hrodna, and it has been decided to impose on whoever has the means, to contribute a dollar semiannually for the support of the yeshivot… This regulation has so far been instituted in the regions of Vilna and Hrodna, but this small amount is not enough to provide for all the needs of the yeshivot… I therefore take the liberty to request that at the conference, it should be resolved to assign a respectable sum of money from the Keren HaTorah fund, for our yeshivot – Torah centers, to rescue this surviving ember, since at the moment their survival is entirely contingent upon miracles…".
The Chafetz Chaim concludes the letter by blessing the participants with a good year: "And all those who have gathered for the honor of G-d and His Torah, should be blessed with a good year, a year of raising the prestige of the Torah and its learners. So is the plea of the one who honors and respects you… who blesses you with a good inscription and sealing, who awaits bountiful Divine mercy – Yisrael Meir HaKohen, author of Chafetz Chaim and Mishna Berura".
The Rabbinical Conference in Kraków for strengthening Judaism was initiated by R. Alter Chaim Levinson of Reisha (Rzeszów; author of Tikun Olam. A disciple of R. Tzadok HaKohen of Lublin). In this conference, most of the rabbis and rebbes of Poland, Galicia, Austria and other European countries came together for the sake of Heaven, to institute regulations for the strengthening of religious observance in the aftermath of WWI, to bolster the observance of Shabbat, Kashrut, Taharah, and the education of children to Torah and fear of G-d. This venture followed the success of the first world Knessia Gedolah that convened in Vienna in Elul 1923 and was attended by the Chafetz Chaim. It must be noted that the conference in Kraków had the exclusive objective of reinforcing Shabbat observance and religion in general (and did not have any political agenda of organizing the Orthodox communities), therefore it received the support of many rebbes and rabbis who did not endorse Agudath Yisrael (such as the Rebbe of Belz and other Galician and Polish rabbis).
R. Yisrael Meir HaKohen of Radin (ca.1838-1933), leader of the Jewish people, was widely known by the name of his first book, the Chafetz Chaim. He founded the Radin yeshiva and authored many halachic and ethical works: Mishna Berura, Shemirat HaLashon, Ahavat Chessed and dozens more. This letter was written in his later years, at the age of about 85. Despite his advanced age, he travelled to Hrodna to take part in this meeting for saving the yeshivot, and from there, sent this letter via his representatives to the large conference in Kraków.
[1] double leaf (3 written pages). 20.5 cm. Good-fair condition. Stains, including dampstains. Folding marks, wear and minor tears.
To the best of our knowledge, this letter was hitherto unknow and never published.
Manuscripts, Letters and Signatures – Ashkenazi Rabbis
Manuscripts, Letters and Signatures – Ashkenazi Rabbis