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Posts Tagged ‘rabbi elyashiv’

The Life Of A Legendary Posek

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

The birth of Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv – who died in Jerusalem last week at the age of 102 – is thought by many to be a miracle.

Despite sixteen years of prayer and longing for a child, the chief rabbi of Homel, Rabbi Avraham Erener, and his wife, Chaya Musha, remained childless. According to one story – often repeated by Rabbi Elyashiv’s children – it was only after an incident when Rebbetzin Erener displayed tremendous compassion by curbing well-deserved anger after a display of cruelty by a distraught neighbor, that Rebbetzin Erener was told by her father, Rabbi Shlomo Elyashiv (author of the classic kabbalistic work Leshem Shevo V’achlamah), that her selfless actions would merit the blessing of a child who was destined to greatness. Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv was born one year later on April 10, 1910 in Lithuania.

His survival throughout the years faced additional hurdles, as numerous times from childhood on Rabbi Elyashiv was stricken with serious illnesses from which he was not expected to recover. Upon the advice of the Chofetz Chaim, in 1922, Rabbi Avraham Erener took on his wife’s family name, Elyashiv, in order to consolidate the two families and obtain a uniform immigration certificate allowing them to enter the British mandate of Palestine. This move was facilitated by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, the Ashkenazic chief rabbi of Israel. Seven years later, Rabbi Kook once again took on an important role in the life of then 19-year-old Rabbi Elyashiv, arranging his marriage to Sheina Chaya Levin, daughter of esteemed Jerusalem Rabbi Aryeh Levin.

When they arrived in Palestine, Rabbi Avraham founded Tiferes Bachurim, a beis medrash in Meah Shearim, where he would deliver a nightly lecture. After his sudden passing, his only son, 32-year-old Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv succeeded him. Until close to the turn of the century, Rabbi Elyashiv was available every night to individuals seeking answers to various halachic inquiries. Rabbi Elyashiv’s vast Torah knowledge was acquired without ever attending a formal yeshiva. From when he was a small child until his father’s death, the two learned for several hours daily. The pair covered the entire Shas, Rambam, and all of Shulchan Aruch by the time Rabbi Elyashiv was married in 1930. After his marriage, Rabbi Elyashiv began studying at Ohel Sarah, another beis medrash in the neighborhood.

Rabbi Elyashiv fathered five sons and seven daughters, two of whom did not survive to adulthood. A son, Yitzchak, succumbed to an illness at a young age and a daughter, Rivka, died in a Jordanian shelling attack in 1948. Sons Shlomo, Moshe, Binyamin and Avraham Elyashiv are all considered great scholars in their own right and all of Rabbi Elyashiv’s daughters married prominent rabbis. The eldest of Rabbi Elyashiv’s daughters was the renowned and beloved Rebbetzin Batsheva Kanievsky, a”h, wife of Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky. She passed away just months ago.

Rabbi Elyashiv, serving as a judge with the Israeli Chief Rabbinate until 1972, was close with other great Torah leaders, including Rabbi Betzalel Zolty, Rabbi Yaakov Ades, Rabbi Eliezer Goldsmidt and Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. He ultimately earned a position on the Supreme Rabbinical Court. Rabbi Elyashiv was persuaded by Rabbi Elazar Menachem Mann Shach, zt”l, the rosh yeshiva of the famed Ponovitch Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, to take a more active role in Jewish public life in 1989 and was the spiritual leader of the Degel HaTorah Party.

Unlike many of today’s widely respected rabbinical figures, Rabbi Elyashiv was not the head of any congregation, yeshiva or community but was still one of the most widely sought out authorities in our generation and was considered by many to be a gadol hador and the leading posek for Ashkenazic Jewry. Rabbi Elyashiv began his day at 3 a.m. and was known to sleep for not more than three or four hours nightly, spending the remainder of his day deeply immersed in Torah studies, delivering shiurim, answering often complex halachic questions and receiving the many visitors who flocked to see him from all over the world. He was known not only as a man of great learning, but also as a man who appreciated and respected the value and dignity of every person.

Rabbi Elyashiv lived a life of simplicity in his small apartment on Rechov Chanan in Meah Shearim, and his reputation for impeccable integrity and concern for others was beyond compare. As a young couple, Rabbi Elyashiv and his wife moved into that apartment at the request of his parents who wished to be close to their only child. They lived together in that two-bedroom apartment for approximately twenty-five years. That was where all the Elyashiv children were raised and where Rabbi Elyashiv lived until his last day.

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

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

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, 102, Passed Away

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv passed away early Wednesday evening. His funeral will be conducted Wednesday at 10 PM Israel time, as is the custom in Jerusalem. (Update: Police estimate over 300,000 people participated in the funeral procession).

Since the early afternoon, Israel time, Rabbi Elyashiv’s condition was unstable and his blood pressure erratic. According to a report, his breathing was shallow, and he was anesthetized and ventilated.

Family members were called to stay at his bedside.

The doctors told the family that only prayers could help the situation.

Rabbi Elyashiv was the leader of the Lithuanian-Haredi community in Israel and the diaspora , and many Ashkenazi Jews regarded him as the posek ha-dor, the contemporary leading authority on Jewish law.

UPDATE: Rav Elyshiv’s Condition Deteriorates

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

The condition of Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv is deteriorating as doctors struggle to keep him alive.

Elyashiv, who had been in critical but stable condition since last week, took a turn for the worst after undergoing procedures Sunday to remove mechanical breathing devices.

Diagnosed with pulmonary edema, Rabbi Elyashiv’s appears to have pneumonia, complicating attempts to allow him to breathe independently.

The 101-year-old Torah sage and Ultra-Orthodox community leader is being cared for at Jerusalem’s Sha’arei Tzedek Medical Center.

Rabbi Elyashiv Health Continues to Deteriorate

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv has been instructed by doctors not to leave his home due to his weakening condition.

His spokesman said that “he needs mercy from Hashem,” and called on the public to pray for his recovery.

The 101-year-old Lithuanian Orthodox leader was hospitalized two weeks ago after experiencing shortness of breath, and medical tests last week revealed that Elyashiv’s heart is working at 20% capacity.

Elyashiv was diagnosed as having pulmonary edema, but his doctors determined that he did not need to remain hospitalized and that treatment and care at home would be best.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/rabbi-elyashiv-health-continues-to-deteriorate/2012/01/25/

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