The leading rabbi of the Lithuanian, non-Chassidic hareidi world, Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman of Bnei Brak remains hospitalized this weekend after his condition took a turn for the worse in the intensive care unit at Mayanei HaYeshua Hospital.
The rabbi was admitted to the hospital last Sunday (Dec. 25), and although he has been conscious throughout and prayed on the Sabbath, he is reported to be “very weak,” the Jerusalem bureau of The Yeshiva World News reported Saturday night.
Rabbi Shteinman is suffering with pneumonia and a systemic infection, according to hospital officials. His condition took a turn for the worse a few hours before the start of the Sabbath.
Earlier in the week there had been some improvement in the condition of the elderly Torah sage, who is 103 years old, and doctors had discussed possibly discharging the rabbi home for the Sabbath.
In the United States, the Agudath Israel of America organization issued a “kol koreh” — a general call to the public — on Friday before the start of the Sabbath, asking its members to pray for the rabbi, men at synagogue and women before lighting the Sabbath candles.
“The condition of Maran Harav Aharon Leib Shteinman shlita has taken a turn for the worse, Rachmana litzlan,” said the statement by Agudath Israel of America executive vice president David Zweibel.
“In accordance with the request of Maran Harav Chaim Kanievsky shlita, Klal Yisroel is called upon to daven and say Tehillim, even on Shabbos and b’tzibur (and for women, at the time of hadlakas neiros), and to increase Torah learning, for the refuah shelaima of Harav Aharon Yehuda Leib ben Gittel Feige – הרב אהרן יהודה לייב בן גיטל פייגא, בתוך שאר חולי ישראל . May we share besoros tovos.” Mr. Zwiebel signed the email with his Hebrew name, “Chaim Dovid Zwiebel.”
Since the death of Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv in 2012, Rabbi Steinman is widely regarded as the leader of the generation (the “Gadol Hador”) of the Lithuanian, non-Chassidic world. Known for his extremely modest lifestyle, the rabbi’s apartment is furnished sparsely and hasn’t been painted in years. Until 2014, he slept on the same thin mattress he had received from the Jewish Agency when he made aliyah in the early 1950s.
A special series of prayers was recited of the Sabbath at the Ponevezh Yeshiva, a famed Lithuanian-stream institution of Jewish learning which Rabbi Shteinman has led for decades, along with leading the Haredi-Lithuanian political faction in Israel.
Among others who led prayers in the Lithuanian stream was Rabbi Eliyahu Mann in the Lederman Shul, under instructions from Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky.
Israel Chief Sephardic Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef also recited special prayers for the rabbi on Friday night, as did countless other rabbinic leaders and their followers around the world.
Also in Israel, in the Chassidic world, special blessings for healing were recited for the rabbi by the Belzer Rebbe in Jerusalem. The Vizhnitzer Rebbe told Chassidim at the third Sabbath meal (seudat shlishit) to recite the fourth book of psalms (tehillim). Psalms were also recited throughout the Sabbath by Chassidim in Sanz.
In the Sephardic world, Rabbi Shalom Cohen, head of the Shas Council of Torah Sages called on his constituency to recite prayers on Friday night, with the doors of the Holy Ark open.
The public is being asked to continue its prayers for Aharon Yehuda Leib ben Gittel Feiga, b’toch sha’ar cholei Am Yisroel.