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Chazon Ish: The Definition of Greatness

Rabbi Shlomo Freifeld zt”l, met with a group of young men who were going to a dangerous country in order to save hundreds of Jewish families. “The Chazon Ish told me that in order to achieve “Gadlus” – greatness – one must first understand what it is.

“Halacha refers to a 13 year old boy as a Gadol – having achieved majority. The young man is called a Gadol because he is now responsible for his actions. It is clear that Halacha associates Gadlus with responsibility.

“The young man grows up and does not increase his responsibilities until he marries. At that time, he becomes responsible for someone else. He is now more of a Gadol. When he has children, and he carries responsibility for more people, he becomes more of a Gadol.

“Hopefully, as he matures, he becomes active in his community and accepts responsibility for a large group of people. He thus becomes more of a Gadol. The broader his involvement in the community, the greater his responsibility and the greater is his gadlus.

“The true definition of a Gadol is one who shoulders responsibility for everyone.

“You are young men who have accepted responsibility for thousands of strangers. Act as Gedolim and you will rise to the challenges that you are sure to face.”

My father zt”l, often spoke of Rav Aharon Kotler zt”l and Rav Shach (whose Yahrtzeit is the 16th of Cheshvan, and who served as a rebbi in Kletzk under Rav Aharon,) as the purest expression of Gadlus. They accepted responsibility for every Jew everywhere in the world. They worked with every Yeshiva and institution. They carried responsibilities that would have crushed a human being. They were able to accomplish all they did, because they accepted the responsibility of Gadlus.

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