Hundreds of rabbis and Torah students danced Saturday night in celebration of completion of learning the entire Gemara in memory of Rabbi Eliezer Menachem Shach, who died 10 years ago last week.
Rabbi Shach was one of the generation’s greatest Torah scholars in the hareidi religious community, which is considered non-Zionist or even anti-Zionist, particularly because they usually do not celebrate Israel’s Yom HaAtzmaut Independence Day or recite a prayer for the safety of soldiers.
Rabbi Shach’s son once said that his father, asked if he was Zionist, replied, “I live in Israel and therefore I am a Zionist.”
Saturday night’s annual celebration for completing study of the entire Gemara was especially emotional because of the appearance of the ailing Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, who is 101 years old and is considered the leader of the Lithuanian-stream hareidi religious community in Israel as well as in the Diaspora.
The rabbi’s health has been unstable since before the Rosh HaShanah New Year, and he had not left his house for the past month until last week. Not having performed the mitzvah of seeing the Western Wall once a month, he arrived there Thursday and then appeared Saturday night for the Torah learning celebration.
The event was viewed worldwide through video.