Yitzhak Shamir's funeral 370.
(photo credit: ReutersMarc Israel Sellem)
I had the privilege of meeting Yitzhak Shamir on numerous occasions, primarily at
rabbinic gatherings both in Israel and abroad, where I lived during his tenure
as prime minister. When visiting Israel and staying in Jerusalem, I would wait
for him on Aza Street on Shabbat afternoons, when he would habitually stroll
with his guards through the Rehavia neighborhood, meeting and greeting the
locals and tourists alike. I was always struck by the fact that he didn’t look
very “presidential,” as he was quite short and grandfatherly, and dressed rather
casually.Later, I came to understand that Israeli prime ministers were
elected more on the merit system than by virtue of their looks or charisma. In
fact, many of our greatest statesmen were somewhat “vertically challenged” –
David Ben-Gurion, Menachem Begin and our present PM among them – and yet they
possessed a commanding presence that emanated from their superior intellect and
fierce devotion to the state.