web analytics
September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



‘And From Zion The Torah Will Go Forth’: Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv’s Impact On American Jewry

Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv, zt”l

Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv, zt”l

The New York Times once asked Rabbi Moshe Feinstein how he became a posek hador, one of the generation’s foremost authorities on Jewish law. Rabbi Feinstein answered that, “people came and asked me questions and they liked what I said and it was accepted, and then more people came and eventually I became widely accepted as a posek.”

Similarly, the late Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv, zt”l, a man who did not even hold an official rabbinic position, was revered by most Jews as one of the world’s greatest poskim. From his small apartment in the old neighborhood of Meah Shearim, Rabbi Elyashiv would receive questions from people around the world regarding halacha and public policy. Over the decades Rabbi Elyashiv became an integral component of American Jewry, interacting with individual rabbis, laymen, and organizations like the Orthodox Union and Agudath Israel of America.

Although Rabbi Elyashiv was a member of the Israeli Supreme Rabbinical Court for several decades, his primary connection to American Jews was developed somewhat later, after his retirement. In an interview with The Jewish Press, Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of OU Kosher, explained that “following the deaths of Reb Moshe [Feinstein in 1986] and Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach [in 1995], there was a shift in [halacha] to Eretz Yisrael,” thrusting Rabbi Elyashiv into the forefront.

As an example, Rabbi Steven Weil, executive vice president of the OU, told The Jewish Press, “Rabbi Elyashiv was consulted with to determine how to construct the eruv for the Los Angeles community.”

Senior poskim at the OU, such as Rabbi Hershel Schachter, rosh yeshiva of the YU-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, and Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, rosh yeshiva of Torah Vodaath, would visit and correspond with Rabbi Elyashiv regarding many emerging halachic issues. Some of the more publicized questions concerned the status of wigs made from Indian women’s hair that were allegedly sacrificed to deities, and insect infestations in vegetables. Rabbi Elyashiv was also involved in formulating kashrut policies for industrial food corporations regarding frozen produce and hechsher keilim, cleaning out utensils for kosher food. Many of these correspondences were conducted with the help of Rabbi Yosef Efrati, Rabbi Elyashiv’s assistant.

In addition to answering questions in halacha, Rabbi Elyashiv also played an important role in setting political and communal policies in Israel and abroad. At the request of Rabbi Elazar Menachem Mann Shach, Rabbi Elyashiv agreed to help guide the religious political party Degel HaTorah. When Rabbi Shach began to limit his public activities after 1995, Rabbi Elyashiv and Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman became the foremost spiritual leaders of Degel HaTorah and were consulted before every major decision.

Rabbi Elyashiv’s decisions have shaped American communal policies through his relationships with various rabbis and the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of America. Like its Israeli counterpart, the Moetzes is the spiritual leadership branch of the Agudath Israel of America, comprised of roshei yeshiva and chassidic rebbes. Members of the Moetzes would frequently consult with Rabbi Elyashiv and cite his views as a final authority on Torah halacha and hashkafa. Rabbi Avi Shafran, director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America, told The Jewish Press, “Agudah and Moetzes members had tremendous respect for, and deference to, Rabbi Elyashiv.” Rabbi Elyashiv’s decisions helped shape the Agudah’s approach to the interaction between rabbinic leaders and elected officials, along with medical ethics regarding end-of-life situations.

Rabbi Sheftel Neuberger, president of Yeshivas Ner Yisroel, expressed similar sentiment, namely that American rabbis had “great respect” for Rabbi Elyashiv. Rabbi Neuberger said that Rabbi Aharon Feldman, rosh yeshiva of Ner Yisroel and a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, had been particularly close with Rabbi Elyashiv, as the former had lived in Israel for much of his life. Over the years Rabbi Feldman would consult and learn with Rabbi Elyashiv, even after he returned to the U.S.

To the individual, however, Rabbi Elyashiv was more than a decider of Jewish law. Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, executive vice president emeritus of the OU, noted that, “while most are incapable of fully appreciating the depth of his piety and breadth of his erudition, we can all grasp the fact that he was the last link to a previous generation.” He was a window to an era in which individuals possessed a total command of every facet of Torah, both revealed and hidden, inherently fused with a passionate dedication to God and His people.

Rabbi Elyashiv was also noted for his love for and dedication to all Jews. Rabbi Steven Berg, managing director of the OU, commented, “His vast Torah knowledge was imbued with a love for Am Yisrael that was reflected in the time he devoted each day to answering the questions of the many people who lined up to see him, as well as those he received…from around the world.”

“Everyone has a relationship with Rabbi Elyashiv,” Rabbi Weil said. Whether as the final authority on halacha in a rapidly changing world, or as role model of scholarship and love, Rabbi Berg believes that Rabbi Elyashiv’s “impact…will continue to be felt for generations to come.”

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “‘And From Zion The Torah Will Go Forth’: Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv’s Impact On American Jewry”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Along the Israel-Syrian border.
Jihadist Threat Rising on Israel’s Northern Border
Latest News Stories
Turkey's new Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

Diplomatic relations with Israel are likely to remain in deep freeze for the next few years, Turkish PM Davutoglu signals.

Along the Israel-Syrian border.

Events on the other side of Israel’s northern border are heating up. The IDF is on high alert in the Golan Heights.

Flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS -- now known simply as the 'Islamic State.'

Germany and other western countries have begun providing weapons to Kurds in fight against the IS.

BDS will be claim victory, but the truth is that a logistics would be a major factor if SodaStream leaves Maaleh Adumim.

The body of 1st Sgt. Shachar Shalev was laid to rest this afternoon in the cemetery in Hipsin.

Palestinian Authority terrorists wounded a three-year-old girl and a bus driver in two separate rock throwing and firebombing attacks on Monday. Both victims suffered light injuries and were treated on the spot, without need for hospitalization. The girl was riding a bus in northern Jerusalem when the attackers smashed a glass window on the bus. […]

“He was part hippie, part yippie, part beatnik, and part New Age,” – Elli Wohlgelernter in a Jerusalem Post eulogy in 1994.

Palestinian Authority manipulation of the media makes it impossible for peace between PA Arabs and Israelis.

“I know that you spent your vacation doing things not according to what you planned,” the prime minister told students in southern Israel.

The recent war in Gaza is not expected to inflict any lasting damage on economic performance.

A Syrian rebel group attacks dozens of UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights; others are held captive. UNDOF head is challenged.

The price of self-service 95 octane gasoline in Israel dropped by a tiny bit — one agora per liter — at midnight on Sunday.

Residents of Gaza Belt communities were furious and worried on the first day of school to find no one at the guard posts.

Arab terror gangs have again attacked Israeli travelers over the past few hours on main arteries around Jerusalem.

More Articles from Tzvi Aryeh Benoff
Jerome Schottenstein

With memories of the Siyum HaShas still fresh in people’s minds, many Jews around the world have been purchasing a Tractate Berachot in order to take part in the 13th cycle of Daf Yomi, the daily study of one daf of Talmud Bavli.

Shlomo Mostofsky

Just days before the entire world stands before the great Judge on Rosh Hashanah, Democrats of the 5th district of Brooklyn will be casting their votes in the primary election for civil court judge. Shlomo Mostofsky, private attorney and former president of the National Council of Young Israel (NCYI), is currently campaigning to secure the post as judge.

For the Siyum HaShas in MetLife Stadium, community leaders, security officials, and even dogs (K-9 units) spent months getting ready for the close to 100,000 in attendance on Wednesday afternoon. However, members of ArtScroll have been focusing on what happens after the celebration. In honor of the 13th daf yomi cycle, ArtScroll has begun to launch its newest edition of the Babylonian Talmud – a digitized version for the iPad.

The New York Times once asked Rabbi Moshe Feinstein how he became a posek hador, one of the generation’s foremost authorities on Jewish law. Rabbi Feinstein answered that, “people came and asked me questions and they liked what I said and it was accepted, and then more people came and eventually I became widely accepted as a posek.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/jewish-news/and-from-zion-the-torah-will-go-forth-rabbi-yosef-sholom-elyashivs-impact-on-american-jewry/2012/07/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: