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By: Pnina Souid

A conversation with Rav Yitzchak Kolodetsky, shlit”a,
esteemed son-in-law of Rav Chaim Kanievsky, shlit”a

Rav Yitzchak Kolodetsky, shlit”a, says that his passion is to see buildings built.

No, he is not a real estate developer. The “buildings” he builds are beautiful Jewish homes, homes filled with peace, joy, serenity, and sanctity. And he does this, in part, by traveling the world, inspiring audiences, and giving blessings to men and womensearching for their nasib(intended soulmate).

That’s not all he does. At the behest of Rav Aharon Leib
Shteinman, zt”l,and of his father-in-law, Rav Chaim Kanievsky,
shlit”a– regarded by many as our generation’s leading Torah
sage – Rav Kolodetsky opened a kollelin the Pardes Katz neighborhood in northern Bnei-Brak, in order to strengthen the Torah observance in the neighborhood. The kollelhas had a profound impact, drawing many of the area’s residents closer to religious observance. But Rav Kodoletsky is known far and wide, well beyond Bnei-Brak, as a dynamic speaker, inspiring spiritual guide, and expert on the topic of shidduchim.

His wife, Rabbanit Kolodetsky, is widely recognized as the “successor” of her renowned mother, Rabbanit Batsheva Kanievsky, a”h, who was the primary address for girls and women throughout the world in need
of encouragement, guidance, and blessings. Untold numbers of women were helped and inspired by the Rebbetzin’s words. Her role has since been assumed by her saintly daughter, Rabbanit Kolodetsky.

Rav Kolodetsky travels extensively to raise money for his kollelbut also to inspire audiences and give blessings. Recently, he traveled to New York and the Midwest, returning for less than a week before coming back to these shores for several days in order to lead a special prayer assembly for shidduchimrun by the Chazaq organization. This event was so important to him that his grandson’s bar-mitzvah in Bnei-Brak was delayed because of this trip!

During his brief stay in New York, I had the opportunity to sit with Rav Kolodetsky and hear his insights into the delicate topic of matchmaking and building a happy Torah home.

As I sat at the table with the ravand his gabbai (attendant), my mind transported me back to 11 Breslev St. in Bnei-Brak, where I had lived for nearly five months, before Gd brought me back to Brooklyn. My apartment shared a yard with the Kolodetsky family, and in that brief period I had the special privilege of forging a close relationship with Rebbetzin Kolodetsky. Back then, Gd blessed me with the opportunity to live next door to the great sage in Bnei-Brak; now, Gd blessed me by bringing the great sage to me here, in New York.

The Power of Prayer…

Citing his revered father-in-law, Rav Kolodetsky explained that prayer is vital for bringing a zivug hagun (suitable soulmate). One must plead and beseech Gd for his or her intended match. His remarks echoed the message I was given by his mother-in-law,
Rebbetzin Kanievsky, nine years ago, when she told me, “Blessings are not on earth; they are in the heavens, and they are brought down to earth through prayer.” And Rabbanit Kolodetsky tells unmarried girls to pray every day. If only women knew the power of their prayers, the Rabbanit said, and prayed as they should, the final redemption would arrive.

Based on a verse in a prophecy given by Malachi, the last of the prophets, the ravsaid that until Eliyahu arrives to announce the final redemption, our nation must join together in heartfelt prayer, which opens the doors to all the yeshuot(“salvations”) that we need.

Rav Kolodetsky says that public prayers are especially powerful, which is why he leads many prayer assemblies (“kinnus tefilah”) on his trips. He begins with a 15-minute address, offering words of encouragement and guidance, and then proceeds to lead a special prayer service. The service consists of several passages from Tehillim, the verse of “Shema Yisrael,” the pronouncement of “Baruch Shem Kevod…” three times, and then the proclamation of “Hashem Hu Ha’Elokim” seven times. Selected passages from the Selihotservice are then recited, during which Rav Kolodetsky at one point sounds the shofar. He explains that this is done to arouse the people repent. The service continues with a special “Misheberach”prayer, the reading of Parashat Ha’mann (the section in the Torah that tells of the miraculous manna falling for Beneh Yisraelin the desert), and the special prayer for success in childrearing composed by the Shelah (Rav Yeshayah Horowitz, d. 1630).

Baruch Hashem, many people have received the help they needed and celebrated semachot following these events.

…And the Power of Hesed

Rav Kolodetsky also shared with me his insights into the significance of the role of shadchanimin bringing singles together.

Of course, Hashem can do everything Himself. He does not need any help. But He wants “partners” to participate in the sacred endeavor of making matches in order for people to perform hesed for one another. And one of the greatest kindnesses a person can perform is bringing a man and woman together to the marriage canopy, and guiding them towards a happy and harmonious relationship.

Performing hesed provides great merit through which we earn Gd’s assistance in all areas of life. Gd helps those who helps His beloved children. Rav Kolodetsky explained to me that Yocheved and Miriam – the mother and sister of Moshe Rabbenu – helped the Jewish women in Egypt give birth and risked their lives to save the newborn babies, and they were rewarded by becoming the matriarchs of the kohanimand of the Jewish kings.

Rav Kolodetsky emphasized that performing hesed for mothers of large families, or of children with special needs, is rewarded by being granted the privilege of building one’s own large, happy family.

Honoring Shabbat

Another important source of merit, the ravtaught, is giving proper respect to Shabbat – the “Shabbat Queen,” as our tradition refers to this day – by properly preparing for and greeting her. This brings great blessing and salvation to singles searching for their soulmate.

Proper preparation for Shabbat means careful planning – allowing oneself plenty of extra time, especially when traveling or commuting for work on Friday, and preparing the Shabbat meals as early as possible, to ensure everything is ready on time. Rav Kolodetsky cited Rav Haim Palagi as teaching that the Satanmakes a special effort to sow tension and strife in the home on Friday. The pressure of Shabbat preparations can easily lead to anger and tension between husband and wife, and between parent and children, making for a very unpleasant welcoming of Shabbat. This can be avoided by beginning Shabbat preparations early, and enlisting the help of children or of people from the outside. Beginning Shabbat in a peaceful, joyous atmosphere – and especially if it can be begun 10 minutes early – brings serenity and great blessing to the home.

The topic of shidduchimis a very delicate one, and is something which concerns each and every one of us. We all want to build happy Torah homes, and to see all our children – and all children in the community – do the same. Rav Kolodetsky would be happy to help our community in this quest, through his inspiration, guidance, blessings, and prayers. Individuals or groups interested in sponsoring a kinnus should contact Rabbi Gedalya Berlin at kollelderechemunah@gmail.com or 718-576-1179.

May Hashem bless all singles in Am Yisrael, and bring them quickly to their intended soulmate and help them build beautiful Torah homes that will be forever worthy of His presence and grace.