Jewry mourn leading Israeli rabbi, Yosef Shalom Elyashiv (BBC) British Broadcasting Company) 19 July 2012 Last updated at 16:10)
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Tributes have been paid to Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, a highly
influential spiritual leader of ultra-Orthodox Judaism.
He died at a hospital in Jerusalem on Wednesday after a long illness.
Rabbi Elyashiv was widely recognised as a top rabbinic authority and
was known for his rulings on complicated areas of Jewish law.
He belonged to a Lithuanian sect of ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazi Jews who
lead strict religious lifestyles.
His death was announced on Israeli television and radio stations.
Within a few hours, about 300,000 mourners turned out for his
funeral, police said, which took place at Givat Shaul cemetery in
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "In his rulings,
Rabbi Elyashiv left a deep mark on the ultra-Orthodox world and on
the entire people of Israel.
"The rabbi´s way was that of love of the Torah and love of man,
humility and the protection of the sanctity of life."
Condolences also came from the President, Shimon Peres, the mayor of
Jerusalem and Israel´s two chief rabbis.
A few words from the rabbi could have a huge impact on the daily
lives of devout Jews around the world.
He also advised a small ultra-Orthodox party in the Israeli Knesset,
Degel Hatorah, which later became part of United Torah Judaism, an
important grouping of religious parties.
Rabbi Elyashiv lived a humble lifestyle, continuing to reside in a
tiny apartment in Jerusalem despite the large number of visitors he
received for blessings and to question him on aspects of Jewish law.
He had unusual authority, in that many of his rulings were accepted
by the different Jewish sects.
However he was not afraid to court controversy. He was opposed to
ultra-Orthodox Jews serving in the Israeli military or pursuing
The rabbi also said that Jews should not visit Temple Mount in
Jerusalem, where the second Jewish temple was destroyed by Romans in
70 AD. He suggested that Jews were not ritually pure enough to set
foot there today and that visits could cause bloodshed since al-Aqsa
mosque, the third most holy site in Islam, was built in the same
Born in 1910 in Lithuania, Elyashiv had emigrated to British Mandate
Palestine in 1924 and settled in Jerusalem´s ultra-Orthodox Mea
Shearim neighbourhood. He became a rabbi four years later.
He served as a judge in Israel´s Chief Rabbinate until 1974.
In 2001, he became head of the Council of Torah Sages, the top policy-
making body for ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazi Jews.
The rabbi, who had 12 children, is said to have attributed his long
life to the fact he did not allow himself to get angry. (© BBC MMXII
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