I once heard a story along the lines of the following:

A man brought his 7 or 8 year old son to meet the Chazon Ish. He wanted to show him what a masmid his son was. The Chazon Ish, after asking the boy a few learning questions, turned to the father and asked him if he taught his son mischief. The father responded with a confused look. The Chazon Ish turned to the boy, pointed to a chair, and told him to knock over the chair. The boy refused. The Chazon Ish encouraged the boy, but he could not bring himself to knock over the chair. The Chazon Ish turned to the father and told him he had failed to teach his son mischief.

The idea, as I understood it, was that the father should have taught the child how to have fun also.

Anyone know of a reliable source for this story, or a story to the same effect? If I have the wrong Gadol, I'll take the same story with a different name.


1 Answer 1


I have not heard this particular story, but I have seen a similar one about the Chazon Ish, in the controversial book by R. Nathan Kamenetsky, "Making of a Godol".

I feel a bit uncomfortable sharing a story from that book for several reasons, so I'll quote it verbatim (so that I can't be accused of changing any details or the like) and rely on R. Nathan Kamenetsky's version:

Lest the reader be surprised that my father related the study of Torah to ancillary and profane subjects, this author will share a story about the Hazon-Ish which demonstrates the same approach. R' Zvi-Hirsh Appelbaum, a Torah scholar and dry goods merchant from Brisk, was exiled to Stoibtz during World War I, as was the Hazon-Ish. R' Zvi-Hirsh helped the Hazon-Ish's rebbitzen, Batya, in purchasing goods for her store, and even received permission from the Hazon-Ish to open a competing dry goods business. He became the Hazon-Ish's talmid-havver [pupil-peer]. One summer night, the Hazon-Ish invited R' Zvi-Hirsh to join him the following morning in a 4:00 A.M. swim in the Neman River. When they were in the water, the Hazon-Ish started to splash his companion playfully, and R' Zvi-Hirsh asked him, "Rebbi, what is going on?" The master replied, "אויב מען קען שטיפען קען מען מחדש זיין [If you can frolic, you can create novellae (in Torah)]."

Source: Making of a Godol, Notes and Excurses 2.2, n. 45; pg 278-279


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