In the aftermath of the massive Levaya of Maran HaGaon HaRav Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman ZT”L, the story was revealed how he was secretly whisked from the scene of the Levaya to a Kevura with only 30 witnesses.
The police chief of the Tel Aviv District drew far-reaching conclusions following the deadly tragedy that took place during the funeral of HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Halevy Wosner ZT”L. Police began preparing for the potential Levaya of Rav Shteinman Z”tl a year and a half in advance, when the dreaded day would come.
BeChadrei Chareidim reports this was what led to a series of police actions at Rav Shteinman’s levaya. The police were proactive, taking immediate control of the Levaya convoy, and carried out an exercise – which, of course, did not receive prior approval from anyone, but was very significant in pulling off the huge funeral with hundreds of thousands of participants within a short period of hours, all while eliminating risk of injury.
A long convoy of Police, United Hatzalah and MDA vehicles accompanied the Ezra L’Marpeh ambulance carrying the Niftar from Mayanei HaYeshua Hospital to the Levaya, in front of Rav Shteinman’s home at 5 Chazon Ish Street in Bnei Brak. When the convoy reached Chazon Ish from Rabbi Akiva Street, the ambulance continued driving down the street, unbeknownst to anyone in the crowd.
Rabbi Yaakov Rosenstein – Kobi, as he is known to many – one of his confidants and one of the closest to Maran, called the driver in the ambulance, an individual who also drove Maran in his lifetime, and said: “Sagiv stop!” However, the driver adhered to the instructions he received from Police officials, and continued driving as he was instructed. At this time Tehillim was being recited over the speaker system.
The ambulance carrying the Niftar continued to travel, while the rest of the long convoy of emergency vehicles remained in place, with only a few vehicles escorting the ambulance. Thus by the time they finished reading Tehillim, the ambulance was already far ahead up Chazon Ish Street, near HaNevia Street. He kept on driving slowly accompanied by police vehicles in the direction of the cemetery.
In the meantime, in front of 5 Chazon Ish, at the conclusion of the Hespedim and words of Chizuk, an announcement was made that the Niftar is now being driven to the cemetery. The large convoy of emergency vehicles proceeded very slowly from Maran’s home with the police escort.
Since the emergency vehicles had not yet begun to travel, those present mistakenly thought that the Niftar was in one of the ambulances still in place, while in fact, the Aron had long left the scene. It was only after more than 30 minutes since the Niftar arrived at the Ponevezh cemetery that the public began to understand that the Niftar had long since left, and began walking toward the cemetery. By that time Police had secured the exterior of the cemetery to block additional people from entering.
This was the decision of Police commanders, which conducted the operation at the district level (Tel Aviv) and not local level, (Dan) without updating or sharing the plan with persons close to the niftar.
Apparently, this move, along with the lack of telephone and Internet service in the entire area, prevented most reporters from reporting on the exact location of the Niftar, so that the public who did not see the ambulance leave the scene, or did not even know which vehicle it was in, remained standing near Maran’s home.
It is interesting to note, that without realizing it, police fulfilled the true wish of Maran in his tzava’ah (will) who requested only a small crowd at his Levaya, saying “even 10 people would be enough.” It is reported Maran was buried in the presence of only 30 people.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)