I've read in an article that the Steipler Gaon, Rav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky zt"l wrote:

I’ve seen many who were thought in their youth to be incapable of succeeding, yet over time they grew to have a solid knowledge of most of Shas and a luminous understanding of halachah.

This first quote seems to be taken from one of his seforim, Karyana D’Igarta 1:21.

The second quote, this time taken from his sefer Chayei Olam 2:12 reads:

he tells the story of a 17-year-old who presented himself before the Chasam Sofer, never before having learned Torah. But the young fellow had a strong desire to do so, and the Chasam Sofer paired him up with several of his talmidim. At first, he failed miserably, incapable of grasping a mishnah, even after learning it a hundred times in a row — failing to retain even briefly whatever he did manage to understand. But he held the Torah tight and learned on and on, and eventually grew to become a great talmid chacham and tzaddik

On both Hebrewbooks.org and Otzar Hachochmah, I saw that Chayei Olam only has the volume 1 edition. Karyana D'Igarta, I was not able to find.

Does anyone know where (and if....) these two sources (Chayei Olam 2:12 and Karyana D'Igarta 1:12) can be found online?

3 Answers 3


They are both on Otzar HaChochma:

Chayei Olam

Karyana D'Igarta

older edition

newer edition

  • Could you help me find the correct pages, somehow I get lost :)
    – Shmuel
    Commented Sep 22, 2022 at 17:04
  • Great find! Thx!
    – Shmuel
    Commented Sep 22, 2022 at 17:45

The first source in the Karyana D'Igarta 1:21 can be found here:

תלמידים צעירים טועים הרבה בדמיונם, בחשבם שאינם מצליחים ואינם עולים, כי ההצלחה לעלי' האמיתית אינה ניכרת לעין התלמיד, כל דף גמרא שלומד ומבינו היא הצלחה, כל תוספות שהבינו היא הצלחה , ולאט לאט קובץ על יד ירבה, ובמשך הזמן נעשה לגדול בישראל, מבלי הבטה בכל יום ההצלחה או לא

Young students make a lot of mistakes in their imagination; in their opinion they are not successful and do not rise, because true heightened success is not recognisable to the eye of the student. Every page of Gemara he learns and understands is a success, every Tosafos he learns and understands is a success, and yet slowly slowly he accomplishes more and over time he will become a Gadol b'yisroel, without looking every day for success or not.

מה שיראה לפעמים שחברו עולה יותר בכשרונו ובתפיסתו וכיו"ב, אינה ראי' כלל על העתיד, ראיתי רבים שחשבום בצעירותם לבלתי מצליחים וכיו"ב, ובמשך הזמן ונתעלו בידיעה יסודית ברוב ש"ס, ובהכרה והבנה מאירה בדרכי ההלכה וההוראה

Sometimes he will see that his friend rises more in his talent and perception etc., he is not able to see the future at all. I have seen many who in their youth were considered unsuccessful and so on, and in the course of time, they ascended with a thorough/fundamental knowledge of the majority of Shas, and in the recognition and understanding that illuminates the ways of Halacha and teaching.

  • Wonderful Dov, also many thanks to @EraserX. Wonderful piece of thought from the Steipler. Do you know if Chayei Olam also has my cited piece online? I could not find it, using the search option.
    – Shmuel
    Commented Sep 22, 2022 at 17:35
  • The Otxar site, whilst having both volumes in one - the second volume is beyond the free page allowance and so you have to pay for the privilege unfortunately....
    – Dov
    Commented Sep 22, 2022 at 17:36
  • Unfortunately :(. Thank you very much! hatzlachah
    – Shmuel
    Commented Sep 22, 2022 at 17:44
  • 1
    re: "free page allowance" - many libraries have free in-library access to "Otzar" these days in case you happen to be near one - eg. libraries in Israel, libraries of Jewish educational institutions all over the world - even some large secular public libraries near Jewish population centers - some people affiliated with some of those libraries (such as alumni) also have free remote access.
    – EraserX
    Commented Sep 22, 2022 at 17:57

Here is the relevant paragraph of the חיי עולם enter image description here

  • Thank you. I suppose that's the Chayei Olam source indeed. Care to provide an English translation?
    – Shmuel
    Commented Feb 6 at 21:30
  • It is indeed the relevant piece from the Chayei Olam, where he discusses the fact that some people really experience problems understanding the Gemara. Here is a free translation: In order to encourage the people who get frustrated, I'kll quote here from the Sefer Choot Hameshulash (biography of the Chatam Sofer): my uncle Rabbi Shimon Sofer told me about this boy of about 16 or 17 years old, who came to his father (the Chatam Sofer), and told him that he had a great desire to learn Torah. The other pupils made fun of someone who, at that age, apparently hadn't yet learned Torah. ...
    – Imanonov
    Commented Feb 7 at 18:17
  • ... However, his father rebuked them and said that anyone who wanted to learn, is welcome. He himself encouraged the boy, and ordered the other students to learn with him for an hour each. Unfortunately, not only did he start off at an older age, he was also struggling to understand, and would easily forget everything again, even if he had learned the same Mishna 100 times already, and the next day he'd have to start learning it all over again. Nevertheless, his desire to learn did not diminish, and he kept on learning, and (as Chazal tell us) "however want to purify himself, will get help"..
    – Imanonov
    Commented Feb 7 at 18:21
  • ... Eventually, he became extremely well-versed in Torah, and he was also a very G'd-fearing person, so that eventually he became a Dayan and Rav in Mattersdorf, under the protection (and guidance) of his teacher. Afterwards he became the Rabbi of the town Shleining, after which he became the head of the Beit Din of Neisatz. He became a big Talmid Chacham and very righteous, and he is quoted several times in the responsa of the Chatam Sofer.
    – Imanonov
    Commented Feb 7 at 18:27

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