Lifestyle & Belief

Israel: Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, leading ultra-Orthodox figure, laid to rest in Jerusalem


Ultra-Orthodox Jewish mourners of Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv attend his funeral procession in Jerusalem on July 19, 2012.



Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, one of the most important figures in the ultra-Orthodox world, who died Wednesday aged 102 this week has been laid to rest in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Elyashiv, known for his rulings on complicated areas of Jewish law, died in the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in the Israeli capital on Wednesday from congestive heart failure, The Jerusalem Post reported

Following Jewish custom, Elyashiv was buried quickly: His death was announced on Israeli television and radio stations Wednesday and within hours, about 300,000 mourners had turned out for his funeral at Givat Shaul cemetery.

According to Haaretz, tens of thousands joined the funeral procession, which began at Rabbi Elyashiv's home in the Mea Shaarim neighborhood.

Rabbi Elyashiv belonged to a Lithuanian sect of ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazi Jews who lead strict religious lifestyles, according to the BBC.

He lived a humble lifestyle in a tiny apartment in Jerusalem, where he received a constant flow of visitors seeking blessings and questioning him on aspects of Jewish law.

"A few words from the rabbi could have a huge impact on the daily lives of devout Jews around the world," the BBC wrote.

Among his more controversial view was his opposition to ultra-Orthodox Jews serving in the Israeli military or pursuing secular studies.

He also said that Jews should not visit Temple Mount in Jerusalem, suggesting that they were not ritually pure enough to set foot there and because there visits could cause bloodshed.

The al-Aqsa mosque, the third most holy site in Islam, is built on top of the Temple Mount.

He also had influence on Israeli politics as the head authority of United Torah Judaism, a small but powerful political party, the LA Times wrote

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quoted as saying: "In his rulings, Rabbi Elyashiv left a deep mark on the ultra-Orthodox world and on the entire people of Israel.

"The rabbi's way was that of love of the Torah and love of man, humility and the protection of the sanctity of life."

He continued: The people of Israel have lost a great rabbi, a sharp ruler and a man of outstanding wisdom. We grieve his passing."

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