Rabbi Yissachar Meir
Rabbi Yissachar Meir Elazar Orbach

Rabbi Yissachar Meir, 83, passed away on the Sabbath in a Bnei Brak hospital after a long illness. Israel National TV participated in the funeral which was attended by an estimated 35,000 people.

Born in Lemberg, Germany, Rabbi Meir was the founder head of Yeshivat HaNegev, which he led for half a century in the southern Israeli town of Netivot.

A longtime sufferer from diabetes, Rabbi Meir was hospitalized several weeks ago with a lung infection. His condition worsened over the past several days, and on the Sabbath he returned his soul to the Creator.

As a young man he led a yeshiva of more than 300 rabbinical students in Morocco, prior to his arrival in Israel.

But it was in the small southern town that Rabbi Meir truly made his mark, building up the nascent yeshiva community from a small nucleus group after making aliyah.

Although he left no children, Rabbi Meir had many times referred to his students as his offspring, telling them that he had “thousands of children.”