Funeral of Rabbi Gershon Edelstein
Funeral of Rabbi Gershon EdelsteinShlomi Cohen

Several thousand people participated this afternoon (Tuesday) in the funeral procession of the headmaster of the Ponevezh Yeshiva and Lithuanian community leader Rabbi Gershon Edelstein who died this morning at the age of 100.

The funeral procession began with the recitation of the Psalms and other liturgical prayers by the son of the late rabbi at the Ponevezh Yeshiva hall and ended at the Ponevezh cemetery in Bnei Brak.

The funeral procession was secured by thousands of policemen after a special operation for a mass funeral procession was announced by the Tel Aviv district. When the body was taken out of the Yeshiva hall, people crowded together to reach the bed so hard that they endangered one another, and a police officer had to call for the public to back away from the bed and refrain from climbing on roofs and fences.

The president of the Ponevezh Yeshiva, Rabbi Eliezer Kahaneman, eulogized at the funeral: "We are now about to say goodbye to our teacher and rabbi, not only me, all the people of Israel are saying goodbye, especially the Yeshiva. There has not been a single day since the Yeshiva opened that Rabbi Gershon was not there, either as a student or as a teacher. His life was pure and loyal to the Yeshiva and Talmud Torah, until the very last moment."

"Yesterday he taught a lesson in a hospital. Today he started writing the outline of the lesson he wanted to teach today and in the middle of the lesson his heart stopped. He will continue to teach the lesson in the Yeshiva of Heaven, where there are no interuptions."

Rabbi Edelstein was hospitalized over Shavuot due to a cardiac event and passed away Tuesday morning following a sudden and rapid deterioration of his condition. His death drew eulogies from many of Israel's foremost officials and authorities, including President Herzog, Prime Minister Netanyahu, opposition leader Yair Lapid, and numerous other political and religious figures.

The head of the Slavodka Yeshiva, Rabbi Dov Ladau gave a eulogy: "All his days, from his youth, he conducted himself with marvelous perseverance in studying the Torah. There is a lot of Torah in Israel, in quantity and quality. His leadership radiated a deep reverence for God. In matters of charity, he encouraged people and helped with his advice and resourcefulness."

Rabbi Landau, who studied with him in Yeshiva, continued: "He carried the world of Yeshiva on his shoulders, with guidance, good advice, and always helped with with calm and peaceful words."

His son-in-law, Rabbi David Levi, gave a eulogy: "I have no words to speak. He was a man who was always growing in spirit, and went up and up. He prepared a lesson and kept going up. He departed in the same fashion, with every detail clear in his mind."

"It's hard for me to say in the present language, your whole life was to make students who would both be studious and fear God, and have good manners with each other. He never hurt a fly, he worked on it all his life", he concluded.

Rabbi Baruch Mordechai Zarichi gave a eulogy: "Our Rabbi is gone. He was a righteous man and a leader. He held two precious positions - the position of head of the Yeshiva of the generation and the position of the leader of the generation. But it should be known that he did not give up the position of the head of the Yeshiva here at Ponevezh. With marvelous perfection, he always continued to be head of Yeshiva in all its affairs."

Rabbi Dov Pobarsky, head of the Ponevezh Yeshiva, commented: "I feel sorry for you brother, but I am very pleased. For seventy years that we have been together, generations of scholars have taught by us."

"Oh, Rabbi Gershon - If there was a definition of humility it would be Rabbi Gershon. Abraham said, "I am dust and ashes." We do not have the reward of Rabbi Gershon, who only ever glorified God's name. He taught Torah that is sweeter than honey. Rabbi Gershon was clean and righteous, a peak of humility. May God have mercy on us that we may live up to the leadership of our Rabbi and may God comfort us along with Zion and Jerusalem."

His son, Rabbi Zvi Yehuda, eulogized: "His head was crowned with fear, his fear of heaven, he was not one of those who showed their fear of heaven, but his fear was beyond reach. For years he was careful on Pesach and even Mother didn't know, he would hide it. I remember one time years ago in the winter, he didn't say the prayer for the new moon on time. it was a winter day and on the last night, he stood on the balcony and waited until the wee hours of the night until he saw the moon and could say the prayer. This is a true fear of God and he didn't show it."

"The crown of our head, with humility, everyone saw this and the same thing in his advice and resourcefulness. He would help everyone with what he could answer. For many years he would give talks every week to reinforce religious observance, and for all that he helped others, he doubtless strengthened his own observance far more."