Rav Chaim Kanievsky. Moreinu Hagadol, Maran Sar haTorah, זכר צדיק לברכה.
A towering giant, a spiritual titan. מושבו ארצה וראשו מגיע השמימה.
Born into a family of greatness. But nevertheless, he was not always the מרן שר התורה that he became later, that we merited to know. In his youth, he struggled in learning too. Yes, so it has been reported. It is important to share that important part of his life, to learn and benefit from it. In what I have seen in hespedim and remembrances after his recent passing, I have seen little, if any allusion to, or mention of it (of course, I have not seen everything written and disseminated, כי רבים הדברים).
One English language publication that does mentions the story is Walking with Rabbi Miller, Daily Conversations with an Inspirational Gadol, by Rabbi Mordechai Dolinsky (Mesorah Publications), a work published close to twenty years ago.
In chapter eighteen there ("The Happiest Day"), on p.83, it is related that the Steipler Gaon was having difficulty with his son, who was showing resistance to his Torah studies. The father, implemented strict disciplinary measures, but the problem persisted. Whereupon he presented the matter to the great Chazon Ish. His brother-in-law's advice? Chaim'l should not be taught further with the "typical yeshiva approach". No deep analysis, no ראשונים, no אחרונים, not even the fundamental תוספות. Rather, just plain gemara and Rashi until the end of the מסכת. And then on to the next mesechta, with same derech, and the next, until the end of Shas. Later, of course, this was augmented by Tosafos and other Rishonim. And that is how מרן שר התורה came to be. The clear-headed, simple-minded advice of the Chazon Ish זצ"ל, that it is counter-productive to force a talmid to learn what he is not yet ready for, and that one must advance in his studies gradually, that תפסת מרובה לא תפסת, ותפסת מועט תפסת, put Rav Chaim back on track to his path to astounding greatness. אשרינו שזכינו.
How old exactly Rav Chaim was when this happened, is not stated. But the lesson is clear, for students in general, and particularly younger ones. Let us hope that people learn from it, and act accordingly. And in the merit of such, we should see more giants, who light up the world like Rav Chaim, זי"ע, did.
אמן, כן יהי רצון