While hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Bnei Brak to mourn the passing of Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman on Tuesday, some radical haredi anti-draft activists celebrated his death, with posters hailing the death of one of the most widely respected decisors of Jewish law in the haredi world as a "great event".
Followers of the radical Yerushalmi Faction hung posters celebrating Rabbi Shteinman's passing, which they called "a great event for the Jewish people".
"We announce with a joyful voice that the rumor has come true," read the poster, which went on to list his alleged 'sins', such as "founding the Nahal Haredi and sending thousands to the army of destruction". The announcement also compared the rabbi to the historical nemesis of the Jewish people, Amalek. "May the name of this evildoer rot," concluded the poster.
In addition, some followers of the radical anti-Zionist Neturei Karta sect in Meah Shearim broke out dancing upon hearing the news of his passing.
Both the Satmar community and the Yerushalmi Faction have been at loggerheads with Rabbi Shteinman due to his rumored role in founding the Netzach Yehuda-Nahal Haredi Battalion, which enables haredim to enlist in the IDF.
As a result, the Yerushalmi Faction has been locked in a power struggle with the mainstream haredi community ever since the death of Rabbi Sholom Elyashiv in 2012.
Matters came to a head in the Jerusalem Mayoral elections in 2013. While Rabbi Shteinman and Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky backed Likud challenger Moshe Leon, the Jerusalem Faction supported incumbent Nir Barkat. The splitting of the haredi vote enabled Barkat to squeak by for the win, and roiled the haredi world, whose large, monolithic voting patterns have granted them tremendous political power.