In my neck of the woods the death of Rav Elyashiv, the 101 leader of Haredi Jewry is huge news. Rav Elyashiv was a superstar. . Instead of ball players or rock stars kids have his photograph on their walls. By tonight there will probably be hundreds of babies bearing the name Yosef Shalom.
Gadol HaDor, the leader of the generation isn’t an appointed position nor is it an inherited one.
Though he served as a judge at the he Chief Rabbinate’s Bet Din a move which led extreme right wing elements to accuse him of “Zionist” sympathies, , it has been decades since the 101 year old sage held any position at all though he was the address for all important Halachic issues.His wife Sheina Chaya was the daughter of the tzaddik of Jerusalem Rabbi Aryeh Levine. The couple were introduced by former Chief Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook.
They had 12 children, five sons and seven daughters one of whom was killed by Jordanian snipers during the War of Independance. Another daughter was the famed Batsheva Kaneivsky the Jewish Mother Theresa opening her home and her heart to all troubled souls.
Here are two interesting bits (culled from the book Rebetzin Kanievsky,–A Legendary Mother to All, by Weinberger and Indig) .
:1. Rav Eliayashiv was extremely musical and would sing his Talmud study to stirring melodies.
and 2.Next door to the Rabbi’s family lived a childless widow who was distraught over the thought that after her death no one would remember her.. Though Ashkenazi Jews are loathe to name their children after the living, the Rabbi named his own daughter for this woman reasoning that in this case, lifting a widow’s spirits took precedence over adhering to a custom.
May his memory be blessed.