Life In Israel on Rav Kaneivsky's Ruach Hakodesh, repeating this story:
The story making waves is that there was an avreich in Bnei Brak married for 10 years who had not been blessed with children.
The avreich went to Rav Kanievsky regularly for a bracha. Rav Kanievsky would give him his usual "Bracha V'Hatzlacha" and then added, cryptically, that he should check what needs to be checked.and makes a good point:
The avreich never understood what he was meant to check, but never had the courage to ask for an explanation.
Finally, the avreich got the courage to ask what needs to be checked and what he should be doing. Rav Kanievsky said what do we check? check the mezuzos.
The avreich sent all the mezuzos in his house to be checked. they all came back fine except for one. The mezuza from the door to the bedroom was passul because the words "v'shinantam l'vanecha" (you should teach your children) ran together with no space between the words.
Note that you cannot just go to a gadol and expect everything to be solved. the guy didn't understand what Rav Kanievsky was telling him, didn't ask for an explanation, and didn't get his problem resolved. Going to a gadol isn't enough - you gotta get the picture straight, you have to understand what he tells you to do.I dislike these mezuzah stories, because of the seeming implicit assumption that Hashem makes people suffer because of a sofer's error, and punishes the hapless people who chanced upon that mezuzah in a way which is a word-play on the mezuzah's error. The reason that it is Hashem's greatness that He punishes midah kenegged middah is that people can then identify the error and correct it, rather than that He is clever at wordplay and sadistically punishes people for a typo in a mezuzah.
There is a plausible halachic idea to check one's mezuzah at specific intervals, but this is because the writing might degrade in certain environments and become pasul, not because of fear that the sofer made some initial error which, rather than bringing Divine protection, would bring ironic Divine wrath.
Also, this story brought to mind the midrash about Ashmedai. When Ashmedai was captured by Benayahu ben Yehoyada and was being brought in chains to Shlomo Hamalech, he had a series of reactions to things he encountered. One was that when he saw a diviner speaking about a treasure in a far-off-land, he laughed. Later, he explained why:
Solomon then questioned him about his strange conduct on the journey. Ashmedai answered that he judged persons and things according to their real character and not according to their appearance in the eyes of human beings. He cried when he saw the wedding company, because he knew the bridegroom had not a month to live; and he laughed at him who wanted shoes to last seven years, because the man would not own them for seven days; also at the magician who pretended to disclose secrets, because he did not know that under his very feet lay a buried treasure.How does this mezuzah story inform us about Rav Chaim Kanievsky's ruach hakodesh? If he really knew that it was the fault of the mezuzot, why bother with the blessing? Why say to check out what needs to be checked, implying that perhaps there was something wrong, rather than saying outright that there was a mezuzah at fault. But more than that -- and this is the parallel to Ashmedai I noticed-- if Rav Kanievsky really knew via ruach hakodesh that the problem was a faulty mezuzah, how did he not see the problem which lay under his very feet, that the person he was speaking to had no clue what he was talking about?! The lack of knowledge of X should tell us about lack of ruach hakodesh powers, just as it did about the magician who pretended to disclose secrets.
That something was discovered that could be interpreted to refer to their particular situation does not really impress me. Why not? Because the idea that one should check one's mezuzot is standard fare. Indeed, that is likely why Rav Kanievsky didn't realize that the guy had no clue what he meant, and why he thought "check what needs to be checked" should be obvious. Many a kabbalist or Rebbe will tell you to check your mezuzot -- and they tell this to people who have problems.
Let us say you have 100 people with problems. Now, those people have several mezuzot in their houses. And some will have been initially pasul, and others will degrade. The halachic reason to check is that in certain locations, mezuzot will degrade. But people do not check their mezuzas until they have a problem and some Rebbe or Kabbalist tells them to, for mystical / superstitious reasons. So it stands to reason that many of these people will have pasul mezuzos, even if it is totally unrelated to their problem. And it also stands to reason that among a population of 100 people with no problems that they would see a Rebbe for, a similar percentage will have problems with their mezuzot.
Now, to make up some numbers, of the 100 people with problems who were told by a Rebbe to check their mezuzot:
80% will find no problem, and will go on to seek the next magical cure, putting this advice out of their mind.
19% will find a pesul in one of their mezuzot, though not one which can be kvetched to relate to their particular situation. This will make for the "weak" mezuzah miracle story.
1% will find a pesul in one of their mezuzot, in a way that can be kvetched to relate to their particular situation. This story will be inspirational, make waves, be blogged about at the various blogs.
Combine this with regression towards the mean, and you can even associate miracle cures with these wonders!
Finally, I would add that I might have interpreted Rav Kanievsky's cryptic suggestion in a different, more practical manner. If his problem was fertility, then perhaps he should not try to only solve it by repeatedly bugging a Rebbe for a bracha. He should also "check what needs to be checked." That is, do hishtadlus by seeking the help of a fertility expert, who could check out if there is any medical impediment. What is his sperm count? Should he be wearing boxers? What is the time of ovulation, and do they need to take special measures because of niddah issues which are preventing conception? One should not only rely on the blessing, but should check what needs to be checked.
I wonder if Rav Kanievsky's suggestion functions as a sort of ink-blot test. If you were told to check what needs to be checked, how would you interpret it?