Thousands mourn loss of Rabbi Yishayahu Krishevsky

The tone, as is often the case in the haredi world in such situations, was one of sorrow, noticeably lacking in anger, and exuding a fatalistic perspective.

October 13, 2015 22:34
3 minute read.
Thousands of Ultra-Othodox Jews walk behind the body of Rabbi Yishayahu Krishevsky during his funera

Thousands of Ultra-Othodox Jews walk behind the body of Rabbi Yishayahu Krishevsky during his funeral in Jerusalem. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO)

Thousands of haredi mourners gathered in the heart of the ultra-conservative haredi neighborhood of Beit Yisrael in Jerusalem on Tuesday afternoon for the eulogies and funeral ceremony of Rabbi Yishayahu Krishevsky, who was killed in a terrorist attack that morning.

Krishevsky, 59, was a prominent figure in the Pinsk-Karlin community and authored a series of books dealing with the weekly Torah portion called Pninei Yishayahu (The Wisdom of Yishayahu), using the traditional allusion to the author of a religious text in its title.

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Men young and old from the Pinsk-Karlin Hassidic community, along with haredi men from many of the different communities in the neighborhood, flocked to the street corner outside of the Pinsk-Karlin yeshiva to listen to the eulogies and take part in the funeral service.

The tone, as is often the case in the haredi world in such situations, was one of sorrow, noticeably lacking in anger, and exuding a fatalistic perspective on the violence and terrorism perpetrated against a member of the haredi public.

Several of the speakers urged the haredi community to improve their religious devotion and to mend their negative character traits, another common reaction to suffering and loss in the haredi world.

Similar sentiments were prominent in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof after the attack in a synagogue there last November, in which four rabbis were killed along with a Druse policeman who fought with the terrorists at the scene.

The eulogy by Krishevsky’s only son, Rabbi Schneur Zalman Krishevsky, was short and rife with grief.

“[My father] was a Jew who was entirely heart and kindness, a Jew who loved every other Jew, and a Jew who helped [others],” he said in tears.

“He was a Jew who would call widows and orphans to ask them how they were and he would help every one of them. I remember when I was a child, the poor people who no one wanted to deal with and how he would help and take care of and feed them. A Jew who really lived for the other.

“We don’t know why God did this, but every one of us needs to know that something must be shaken, something needs to move inside of him.”

Rabbi Avish Eisen, an uncle of the murdered Krishevsky, spoke next, saying God had “chosen him to be a sacrifice,” so the Jewish people would strengthen their religious dedication and bring the final redemption.

Like others, Eisen spoke of Krishevsky’s charitable work.

“He gladdened the heart of many orphans and widows, we can learn from him how to love each other,” said Eisen.

“If we rouse ourselves [to better service of God] then it will be a merit for Rabbi Yishayahu in heaven, and when he is lifted up to the Heavens he may intercede for us and tell God, ‘Please, enough of this pain.’” Rabbi Elimelech Biderman, a prominent and influential rabbi in the hassidic community in Jerusalem, encouraged those at the funeral to draw closer to God through their religious service in response to the murder.

“We are all the children of God and he wants to awaken us so that we return to him,” he said. “We must understand through this [death] that God wants us to understand something.

Rabbi Yishayahu wasn’t taken as an individual, but as one part of us all, and this incident is talking to every one of us and saying we need to get closer to God with prayer, by improving our characters. Everyone knows what must be fixed in himself and this is what must be done.”

Another rabbi within the community, who asked to be referred to simply as Rabbi Finkel, said Krishevsky “always accepted with love what God did with him,” and again raised the notion that the death was a sacrificial offering taken by God for the merit of the Jewish people.

Finkel rejected retaliation as a reaction to Krishevsky’s murder and that of the other victims of the current wave of attacks.

“All of us in this situation always want to take revenge, but it is written that it is God who takes revenge, and God will take revenge on these evil people,” he said. “We will strengthen ourselves by repentance, by better observing Shabbat, in our Torah study, in our charity to our fellows, this is our work, this is who we are.”

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