President Shimon Peres visited Jerusalem’s Mea She’arim neighborhood on Thursday
morning to pay a condolence call on the family and closest aides of Torah giant
Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, who passed away Wednesday at the age of 102
following a prolonged illness.
When Peres stepped through the doorway of
what had been Elyashiv’s humble home, it was not the first time. He had visited
with him before, most recently in October 2009, sitting at the narrow table at
which Elyashiv used to study. The room was small, and the few aides who attended
the rabbi, together with Peres’s aides, all but filled up any vacant
When the president arrived at the house on Thursday morning,
though, there were considerably more people in the room – members of the family
who had begun the week of mourning, and many others who had come to commiserate
with them. The president offered words of sympathy to Elyashiv’s three sons and
two daughters, and expressed his own personal sadness at the rabbi’s departure
from the world.
He spoke of his many years of acquaintance with Elyashiv,
who he said had been unique in his modesty and in his integrity. Peres recalled
Elyashiv’s vision and wisdom and said the rabbi had taken upon himself all the
burdens of the Jewish people. He had boundless understanding for the needs of
the nation and the Jewish people, said Peres, and in this way made an enormous
contribution to the state.
“Even though his body became weak, his mind
remained clear, and studying Torah with yeshiva boys was the most important item
on his agenda,” the president said. He also credited Elyashiv with a keen
comprehension of politics, a factor that enabled him to recognize extremism in
others and to use his influence to prevent a split in the nation.
before, tens of thousands from all over the country accompanied Elyashiv on his
“He fled from honors all his life,” said Peres. “Only
after his death could people come in their multitudes to demonstrate how much
they appreciated him. There are no words of comfort when a man of his caliber
passes. The only comfort is that his spirit will remain with us forever.”