The Orthodox population was in deep mourning on Wednesday afternoon when rabbi Josef Shalom Elyashiv died. He was rabbi of the Lithuanian Orthodoxy for decisions in matters of the Jewish law (Halacha) and one of the greatest Torah scholars of the past few generations. A crowd of more than 250,000 people accompanied him on his last way in Jerusalem; among them were rabbis, politicians, his adherents and thousands of ordinary people.
Rabbi Elyashiv was born in the town of Shavil (Siauliai) in Lithuania in 1910. This was 17 years after his parents got married. However, he personally has about 1,000 descendants. At the age of 20, he got married to the daughter of Rabbi Aryeh Levin. The latter was a famous person in Jerusalem, who cared a lot for the Jewish underground fighters, who were imprisoned by the British. In 1938, he was ordained as rabbi and in 1952, he started his career at the Rabbinic Court, where he fulfilled his tasks for more than 20 years. In 1988, he took his first steps in the field of politics in Israel, when he followed the call of Rabbi Schach to become leader of the Degel HaTorah party, which was founded at that time. In 1999, Rabbi Elyashiv decided to join the government coalition of Prime Minister Ehud Barak with the left-wing Meretz party.
He wanted to intercede in the matter of Orthodox Yeshiva students not being obliged to serve in the military. However, some weeks later he left the coalition due to the fact that the electric power company had transported a bulky part for a power station on Shabbat. He was a staunch opponent of Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. In 2009, Rabbi Elyahiv’s first great-grandson of the 6th generation was born.
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