Rabbi Gershon Edelstein
Rabbi Gershon EdelsteinAharon Krohn/Flash90

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mourned the passing Tuesday morning of Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, dean of the Ponevezh Yeshiva in Bnei Brak and the spiritual leader of Lithuanian (non-Hasidic) Ashkenazi Jews in Israel.

"Today, the world of Torah, along with the entire people of Israel, has lost a wise and renowned leader – the President of the Council of Torah Sages and head of the Ponevezh Yeshiva, Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, whose entire life was holiness. I mourn his passing and send my most heartfelt condolences to the members of his family."

"Rabbi Edelstein always remembered the days of his youth in Soviet Russia in which he was obliged to study Torah in secret. In contrast to this, here in Israel, he openly spread his wings over the Lithuanian yeshiva world."

"He never took anything for granted. On the contrary, the responsibility for shaping the spiritual image of masses of Jews guided him day and night. Rabbi Edelstein was imbued with love of Israel for everyone. His sensitive attention to the challenges of the generation led him to guide, direct, strengthen and encourage."

"His lessons in Talmud and Jewish law gave expression to his immense diligence. His great persistence will continue to inspire those who listen to his teachings."

"I was fortunate to meet with Rabbi Edelstein several months ago, and the light that shone in his eyes was full of understanding; Jewish wisdom left an indelible mark in him. The importance of instilling the heritage of Israel in the children of Israel sprang from the depths of his soul."

"Rabbi Edelstein passed away a few days after we read in the Torah portion of Naso the opening words: 'Take the sum of the sons of Gershon also, by their fathers' houses, by their families' (Numbers 4:22). His good name will be remembered by everyone – in this generation and in generations to come. May his memory be for a blessing."