Some 850,000 people attended the funeral of Shas'
spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, on Monday evening, marking the biggest funeral in the history of Israel. "The sun has set," said Rabbi David Yosef, Ovadia's son, in his eulogy. The rabbi was buried around 11:00 pm.
"Father, you raised us by the Torah
and we are lucky to be your sons. Every time we had a question, you led us into the world of Halacha. You are the Moses of our generation, father. Who will we ask now? Who will we speak to?"
The funeral concession began at 6:00 pm and went on for ours. Hundreds of thousands of mourners filled the capital and stormed the vehicle transporting the rabbi's body to the cemetery. Some 4,000 police officers were deployed around Jerusalem, trying to maintain order; Seven MDA
units, 70 ambulances and two emergency units were available.
|Masses at funeral procession (Video: Eli Mandelbaum): |
The sign on Rabbi Yosef's grave (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Over 300 medical care professionals were treating wounded at the location; some 300 people needed medical care due to the crowded conditions and 15 were evacuated to hospitals. They all sustained light injuries.
Magen David Adom paramedics also delivered a baby during the funeral.
Obituary signs for Rabbi Yosef (Photo: Ido Erez)
Amram, one of Rabbi Ovadia's many grandchildren, told Ynet after the funeral: "The feelings are difficult. This is a public mourning, and not just a private mourning of the family. Everyone is feeling the pain, everyone in Israel. We still hope for the return of the Messiah and the rise of the dead. I was in his hospital room today and kissed his hand one last time. We were expecting a miracle – but we didn't get one."
Rabbi Mordechai Toledano, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's
son-in-law, said that the family took comfort in the many attendees at the funeral. "This is a difficult day," he said, "We are all hurting, but we are taken aback when we see the masses from the entire nation of Israel. The house of Israel will ease this burn. We say thank you to the hundreds of thousands who came, to the people of Israel, if you came here, you show the true Torah."
Rabbi Toledano added that "(Yosef) has not been the Chief Rabbi for years and therefore there is no counterpart in the world to his image and his public respect. The whole public is showing here the honor of the Torah. This is not a formal personality. Nothing like this has ever happened, and the world is watching it."
Mourners at the funeral (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
President Peres at the funeral (Photo: GPO)
Rabbi's cape after his death
Shmuel, a Jerusalem resident who lives by Porat Yosef
Yeshiva, where Rabbi Ovadia Yosef began his studies, explained that the masses came to show respect to Rabbi Yosef out of love. "He loved us all as sons," he said. "I came to his lessons, and it will be very difficult now. No man can replace him in knowledge of the Torah and in spiritual leadership. This is a terrible day."
Mordechai, a Jerusalem
resident who lives next to Or V'Derech Yeshiva in Mekor Baruch, said that Yosef "was the genius of the generation and there is no one who can surpass him spiritually. He's like Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon for me: An unending source of knowledge."
Sixteen-year-old Abraham came to the funeral with his father. "I've admired Rabbi Yosef since I was born," he told Ynet. "I've always studied his rulings and I was at his shul several times. When I heard the announcement I was shocked, and so were all my friends at the Yeshiva. The Rabbis cried when they told us he had died."
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Aryeh Deri at Rabbi Yosef's funeral (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
During the funeral procession, Border Guard and police had to stand between the gurney carrying the rabbi's body and the crowd. "From all the shoving and pushing, I lost my shoe," said Elchanan, who took part in the funeral, "and so did a lot of other people. I never imagined it'd be so crowded."
Orit, who came with her friends to pay her final respect to the rabbi, said she had to leave at around 9:00 pm. "I couldn't take the shoving anymore," she said, "You couldn't get through. I saw it from far away, I was a part of a huge event, and I left with great sorrow."
Batya, another resident who came to the funeral, said, "It was hard with how crowded it was. They were shoving, hitting and even swearing. I hope we will be forgiven." Maor, who came from Bnei Brak,
said: "It was very crowded, but we survived. On a day like this you don't think about it; you just show up."
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