Discovery! A Secret Letter Written By The Chafetz Chaim!

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A letter regarding the Chafetz Chaim’s planned immigration to the Land of Israel and the house being constructed for him in Petach Tivkah will soon be exhibited and up for sale with bidding starting at $20,000.

The Chafetz Chaim was imbued with the desire to move to the holy land. In 1880, he made a condition with his son-in- law that although he was taking responsibility for supporting him, his son-in- law would not be able to prevent him from moving. He 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 yeshivas, he once again attempted to fulfill his dreams and immigrate to the Holy Land. On two separate occasions, Gedolei HaDor visited the Chafetz Chaim and begged him to push off his trip, and each time he agreed. He delayed his trip until Tuesday, Parshat Lech Lecha, 1926 – the last day before his travel documents expired.

These twenty-two lines were intentionally written on plain paper without the Chafetz Chaim’s letterhead, which he customarily used, in order to ensure secrecy. In another letter, he wrote that in order to avoid the evil eye, a condition of the matter was that his intention to immigrate to the Land of Israel not be publicized.

Composed on Wednesday, Parshat VaYera 1926. The Chafetz Chaim writes, “I was almost completely ready to travel to the Holy Land, but now it was Heavenly ordained that my wife 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 then asks a few questions about the house being constructed for him in Petach Tivkah, advice about renewing his travel documents, and conditions of the Torah institutions in Petach Tikvah.

The end of the story is well known. The Chafetz Chaim’s wife recuperated that year and they were able to procure new certificates. However, the Chafetz Chaim’s daughter became seriously ill on the day that the new documents arrived. After that, his doctors advised him 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 by Hash-m.

Apart from the historic aspect of this letter, it was considered a spiritual asset for the home that possessed it, as expressed in an additional letter written by the person who received this important letter from the Chafetz Chaim in a letter that he wrote to raise funds to complete the construction of the Chafetz Chaim’s house in Petach Tikvah. These two letters are being sold together as one lot in the upcoming Winner’s auction on March 6, with bidding starting at $20,000.

Another unique, rare lot in this auction is a sharply worded letter written by the Chazon Ish about when Yom Kippur should be observed by the refugee yeshiva students in Kobe, Japan. The Chief Rabbinate sent a telegram to Kobe in response to the refugees’ question stating that they should fast on Wednesday according to the calculation customary in Japan. But, the Chazon Ish sent a short telegram with an unequivocal message: Eat on Wednesday and fast for Yom Kippur on Thursday! The Chazon Ish was uncharacteristically very public about his position and passionately battled for its implementation. In this letter, he sharply criticizes the decision of the Chief Rabbinate. It is written so sharply that he purposely left it unsigned. Bidding on this lot begins at $10,000.

Other rare lots include a twenty-page responsum written by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, with bidding starting at $2,000; Rabbi Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz’s personal Tehillim and shtender; and a manuscript written by Rabbi Chaim Efraim of Sudylkow, author of Degel Machane Efraim and grandson of the Baal Shem Tov. This may be the only extant manuscript in his hand! The opening bid on this lot is $80,000.

In addition, we present a collection of oil paintings of rabbinical figures by the artist Alois Priechenfried.

Winner’s Auction House has been conducting public auctions for over 30 years and is one of the leading companies in the world in the fields of ancient Hebrew books, manuscripts and Judaica.

The auction catalog along with the results of previous auctions can be viewed on the website – winners-auctions.com.

The auction will be broadcast in real-time on the website and requires pre-registration on the website to participate. Good luck!