Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, head of the famed Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem and member of the Torah Council of Sages of Degel HaTorah, passed away early Tuesday morning at the age of 68. He apparently suffered a heart attack.
His funeral procession left from the yeshiva after eulogies that began at noon on its way to the Har HaMenuchot cemetery in Giv'at Shaul.
Radio Kol Chai reported over 100,000 people in attendance and said that Rav Yosef Shalom ("HaGrish") Elyashiv, the venerable leader of hareidi-religious Jewry, left his home and waited in his car despite his advanced age for the funeral to pass his home so as to pay his respects to the deceased.
Leading hareidi religous rabbis orderded all businesses owned by hareidi religious in Jerusalem to shut down during the funeral. All hareidi religious schools, teacher's seminaries and yeshivot were closed.
Rabbi Finkel headed the Mir Yeshiva since 1990, and he will be succeeded by his second son, Rabbi Yehudah Leib Finkel, one of his11 children.
He was born in Chicago and was a grandson of the “Alter of Slabodka,” who founded the Knesset Yisrael Yeshiva in Slabodka and led its Mussar (Stringent Ethics) Movement during the 19th century.
The rabbi once refused to take drugs to help him cope with Parkinson’s disease because of concern that it would affect his memory. “I’d rather be ill my whole life than to forget even one word of the holy Torah,” he commented.
He also was against yeshiva students attending demonstrations, and he prohibited his students from doing so.
During the 20-year period of his leadership and despite his illness, the yeshiva expanded greatly and became the largest yeshiva in Israel and the second largest world over. He also opened branches in Modiin Ilit and Ramat Shlomo.
Baruch Dayan HaEmet.