On December 30, 2020, and May 10, 2021, I wrote two Blogs asking readers to say Tehillim for our son Dovid Pinchas’ Rabbi Yitzhak Eliezer Gradnavich, in Rechovot who was very ill at that time. The links to these Blogs follow-
I was always optimistic that Rabbi Gradnavich’s condition would improve despite how critical and urgent the doctors were sounding. As the months went by, our son Dovi gave us updates on his condition which made me feel more confident.
In August, I was hospitalized with Cellulitis in Hadassah Ein Kerem near Jerusalem. When Dovi came to visit, he informed me that Rabbi Gradnavich was now also in this same hospital which gave Dovi the opportunity to do two great Mitzvahs by visiting the sick – myself and Rabbi Gradnavich – in a very short time span.
Unfortunately, in the weeks that followed Rabbi Gradnavich’s condition worsened and then as Rosh Hashanah was approaching Dovi said the doctors were not confident about the Rabbi’s recovery. I was hopeful the doctors would be proven wrong but after Rosh Hashanah finished, Dovi phoned to tell us that Rabbi Gradnavich passed away 10 minutes before Rosh Hashanah began.
Rabbi Gradnavich Always Remained Connected To His Bocherim
Rabbi Gradnavich, despite his weak condition, remained connected to the boys via telephone from his hospital bed during Shacharit and Mishna Bruah shiurim. He was actively participating by asking and answering questions from the boys during the Shiur. Rabbi Gradnavich continued to participate at Mincha and Maariv and he was aware of everything happening in the Yeshiva.
He used to consult with Dovi about each Bocher. He wanted to know how they were doing and then would give advice by writing letters from his sick bed to each Bocher. If he did not have strength, his wife would write for him.
The letters discussed how each Bocher should grow in not only their learning, but also his midos (personality) to become a better person and Jew.
About one month before Rabbi Gradnavich passed away, Dovi remembers that Rabbi Gradnavich returned to his house from the hospital to rest and be among his family. He would give a separate Shiur in Mishna Bruah on Shabbat that had been carrying on for 20 years. Dovi remembers going to his Rabbi’s house with other men to not only attend his shiur, but also to have the opportunity to visit Rabbi Gradnavich at his house. As they came to the door to visit Rabbi Gradnavich, they noticed him learning with a book. While they were standing at the door, Rabbi Gradnavich said his dream is that “each Jew will know they have a pathway to grow”.
Each Jew must make it their goal to “carry on growing”.
The Yeshiva Rabbi Gradnavich Built With His Own Hands 20 Years Ago Will Continue
The Yeshiva is continuing to operate with Rabbi Gradavich’s son Chaim Zev serving as Rosh Yeshiva along with the other Rabbis who teach there. Dovi is now responsible for overseeing the Bocherim during Shacharit and continuing giving the Mishnah Bruah shiur after Shacharit that Rabbi Gradnavich would always give.
I respected Rabbi Gradnavich very much for all the time, effort, kindness and love he showed all of his students. But in particular, he treated Dovi very specially which allowed our son to thrive under his guidance. This should explain why Dovi and I will miss Rabbi Gradnavich very much because he made Dovi part of his family and treated Dovi like his own son.