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Hundreds pray, mourn, cry at Rabbi Yosef's grave
After 850,000 people attended Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's funeral, hundreds visit his grave the following morning. Leaders, followers, politicians - including Netanyahu, Peres - come to Yosef shiva to pray, mourn, pay respect
"The Lord gaveth, and the Lord taketh away – Blessed be the name of the Lord." With these words, Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri grieved Tuesday morning at the large mourning tent that was set up in the vicinity of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's home in Jerusalem. On the morning after the largest funeral in Israel's history, the Yosef family prepares for masses of visitors.

 

Among those who came to pay their respects to the esteemed rabbi's family were Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Fromer chief rabbi Shlomo Amar.

 

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"All night I thought about what he would have asked of us, and it is clear to me he would want us to rise up and carry on the legacy, the Torah, the educational institutions, and that we continue to be united," said Deri.

 

Due to the great crowding, the public is asked to arrive to console the bereaved between 10 am – 1 pm or 4 pm – 7 pm. The mincha (afternoon) prayer was setto take place at 1 pm.

 


צילום: גיל יוחנן

PM Netanyahu at Yosef house (Photo: Gil Yochanan)

 

While many mourners arrived at the shiva at the home of Rabbi Yosef, many followers arrived Tuesday morning at his grave in the Sanhedria cemetery. From the early hours of the morning, hundreds of worshippers seeking to honor the rabbi's memory visited the grave.

 

Many cried and prayed, while others merely stood quietly and lit neshama (memorial) candles. Among the many visitors were also several secular individuals, some of whom brought their children with them. The women on site stood out, as they were not allowed to approach the area for the funeral Monday night, and came back the following morning to approach the grave and pray in the cemetery.

 

At the wake, Netanyahu said that "while he was ill, the rabbi used all of his strengths to continue studying and writing, he proved not just was a religious scholar should be but also what a father should be.

 

"We all saw how his children cared for him until his final moments. I used to frequent this house, many times he would sit and write, and I would tell them 'let him work, he is dealing in eternal things'. I felt he should not be interrupted."

 

Rabbi David Yosef, the son of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, told Netanyahu that his father was hurt by what he felt was an attack on the world of Torah. "Father was hurt by the fact the he never received a response to his request. He begged and pleaded and all he heard was 'I didn't come for this.' He was very hurt."

 

The rabbi's son added that his father "spoke with him afterwards and was very hurt. We feel that was his most important wish. He said this words: 'I have lost a son, but this hurt even more.'"

 

Also visiting, Justice Minister Livni said that: "Yesterday (at the funeral) we saw the people of Israel march and cry for the loss of the great man who was a source of comfort for many in Israel."

 

Justice Minister Livni at mourning tent (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)

(Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)

 

President Shimon Peres eulogized the late rabbi at the swearing-in ceremony of new judges: "Yesterday, a great leader, a man above the common folk died. He was one of the greatest arbiters of our time, and left a mark in the lives of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.  

 

"We heard many eulogies, but the most impressive one was that of the people, of all classes, of all camps, who came to Jerusalem from all across the country. No one organized them or forced them, and it was surprising and emotional. Perhaps it is the people's eulogy that does justice to his character. We don't have an Ashkenazi people or Sephardic one – we have one people and the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef represents the unity of the people, since more than he wanted to unite the people, he wanted and acted towards preventing the discrimination of another group. Am Yisrael responded yesterday with great love."

 


צילום: גיל יוחנן

Peres at Yosef shiva (Photo: Gil Yochanan)


(Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)

Mourning tent, Tuesday morning (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)

(Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)

(Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)

Rabbi Shlomo Amar at mourning tent (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)

 

Peres also told the rabbi's sons that "the greatest eulogy was the one given by the people who arrived for the funeral in Jerusalem," which was attended by 850,000. "Your beloved father wanted to unite the people."

 

The rabbi's son, Rabbi Abraham Yosef, told Peres that "you have warmed our hearts with your eulogy, we felt we are not alone, you highlighted many important achievements of our father's life."

 

"I came to pray at the grave of the righteous (man)," said Tiferet Almasi, a resident of Jerusalem. "It is a great privilege; Maran was also the women's rabbi. I still cannot believe his passing and God willing I will come here every day during the shiva."

 

Rabbi Yosef's grave, Tuesday morning (Photo: Yaron Brener)

(Photo: Yaron Brener)

(Photo: Yaron Brener)

(Photo: Yaron Brener)

(Photo: Gil Yohanan)

 

David Peretz, a resident of Ofakim, told Ynet: "This morning I got up and decided to come and pray at his grave." He added that "since the time of the Rambam until today there has not been an arbiter of Halacha like him. Rabbi Yosef will be with us for many years to come."

 

Police stationed special forces in the area to keep order.

 

'Cannot remember crying so much'

Former Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar eulogized Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and told Ynet: "He was not an ordinary rabbi. No one can replace him. In all of the Torah subjects, there is no one like Yosef and no one can fill his place." He added: "He never said 'this question is too difficult', or that it was not in his area of expertise. He felt responsible to deliberate and rule on every question."

 

Rabbi Amar added that "he led Shas only in order to spread biblical actions and instill Torah with the public." According to him, "Rabbi Yosef did not establish Shas because he wanted to engage in politics. The world was wrong, he was not in politics."

 

Former Chief Rabbi Bakshi Doron at mourning tent (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)

 

Knesset Member Ariel Atias told Ynet: "It is so hard for us that he is gone. It is imperceptible." He added that "the pain is great. It is incomprehensible. Some people barely knew the rabbi; I cannot remember myself crying so much."

 

Regarding the political future of Shas, Atias said: "We are not concerned with that right now. All that Maran established will carry on and all the other speculations are only good for a day or two for the newspapers. We will carry on his legacy."

 

Yonatan Yosef, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's grandson, told Ynet: "As a child, I would at sit at his feet in class and he was always busy, but in his own way he was always attentive to us." The grandson further added that "if anyone really wants to help grandfather, they must continue in his ways."

 

British Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould also arrived at the mourning tent, and told Ynet that the rabbi made historic rulings for women's rights, adding that his passing is a great loss for Shas and the people of Israel.

 

Elior Levy, Itamar Fleishman, Ahiya Raved and Kobi Nachshoni contributed to this report

 

 

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