Rabbi Eliezer Waldman, Rosh Yeshivat Nir of Kiryat Arba, passed away on Saturday night and the funeral was held at half-past-two on Sunday afternoon. Rabbi Waldman was 84 years old.
The funeral procession set out from Yeshivat Nir and progressed to the ancient Jewish cemetery of Hebron, accompanied by thousands of mourners. Rabbi Haim Druckman, Rabbi Dov Lior, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, Rabbi Haim Steiner, Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, and Rabbi Haim Yeruham Smotrich all joined the funeral procession.
“We, the students of the Rav, and the students of his students – we will expand the yeshiva and cause it to flourish; we will add to the number of the Rav’s students and expand the settlement enterprise; we will bring forth more life and the spirit of the Rav will rest upon us,” said Rabbi Smotrich during his eulogy.
Rabbi Dov Lior, the rabbi of Kiryat Arba, said, “I was fortunate enough to know Rabbi Waldman back in the days when he first arrived here in Eretz Yisrael, when I was a young student learning in Yeshivat Merkaz Harav. I remember how he arrived from America and came to learn in the yeshiva – and how he went to work on the construction of the Heichal Shlomo building, in order to participate in the building of the Land.
“He spread the Torah of emunah and spoke about the revival of the Jewish People in our Land. He called on people to open their eyes and to bring up a generation that would perceive the greatness of G-d’s revealed Providence in our generation. G-d gave Rabbi Waldman a special gift of being able to lead the community,” Rabbi Lior added.
“Today, like every other Sunday, I travelled to Kiryat Arba to learn b’chavruta with Rabbi Waldman,” related Rabbi Haim Druckman, “but today I was left alone. Rabbi Waldman was an exceptional person – exceptional in his Torah learning, in his character traits, in his love of his fellow Jew, and in his love of the Land of Israel.
“He brought inspiration to thousands of students,” Rabbi Druckman continued. “He yearned for redemption throughout his life – he always kept up with the news, in order to find out exactly how G-d was bringing the world and the Jewish People closer to redemption. He was deeply attached to the Torah of redemption of Rabbi Kook and his son Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda – in fact, he was one of the greatest experts in the teachings of Rabbi Kook. His loss will be sorely felt by the Jewish People,” he concluded.
“Rabbi Waldman will be buried here in Kiryat Arba, the community that he built – literally,” said Rabbi Ariel. “Rabbi Waldman has passed away, but the Land of Israel, the People of Israel, and the Torah of Israel continue, and that is the truest consolation for us now.”
Rabbi Noam Waldman, the son of Rabbi Eliezer, said, “With every step you took, you sensed the Land and the coming of Mashiach. You loved every single Jew with a love that was felt deep within your soul – you were always to delighted to greet every Jew and every single Jew felt like your child. You saw everything as good.
“My father – you suffered so much during the last few months, and you said it was an atonement for your sins. In the last few days, when you were hovering between this world and the next, you showed us how the true divine goodness is already here. And just before your soul departed, with your final strength you sang, ‘Hatov ki lo chalu Rachamechah.’ You were an angel in a pure and holy body, someone who did not even know what anger was,” he said.
“The holy yeshiva – our yeshiva – was the work of your life in which you raised up an entire generation of Torah, of faith, of holiness. From the spring of Torah in our yeshiva sprung up a multitude of communities in Judea and Samaria. You loved the yeshiva so much – the studies, the students. When you turned 70, the students celebrated with you – and you, with tears in your eyes, called them ‘my precious sons.’
“Your greatness in Torah learning and your expansive heart found their place in the hearts of your students who were uplifted by your great spirit. Who will light the way ahead for us now? Who will show us the divine goodness?”
Dudi Waldman, another son of Rabbi Eliezer, added, “You were not just our father – you were everyone’s father. You were a man of faith and love – and no less than that, and perhaps as a result of that, you were a man of the people, a man beloved to the common man whom you loved. You loved everyone and believed in everyone. So many people passed through your home, people you and our mother supported and encouraged and even adopted. I don’t remember a single period when we didn’t have additional ‘brothers’ living with us,” he said.
“Yesterday, you sang ‘Hatov ki lo chalu Rachamechah’ together with Yishai – you, whose sole desire was to demonstrate how good G-d is, used your last strength to sing and give thanks for all the goodness,” he related.