[VIDEO & PHOTOS IN EXTENDED ARTICLE]
The levaya of Maran Posek HaDor HaGaon HaRav Yosef Sholom Elyashiv ZATZAL is underway. The recitation of tehillim is underway, led by HaGaon HaTzaddik HaRav Don Segal Shlita. Shema Yisrael and Kabolas Ohl Malchus Shomayim were already recited and the procession is expected to head for the beis hachaim in the coming minutes. Police estimates are the levaya will take at the very least until midnight.
As the levaya gets underway, preparing to begin the journey to the beis hachaim in Givat Shaul, emergency medical personnel have already treated dozens of people. One can hear shouts for “Hatzolah” from balconies and in the crowd as there is barely space for movement on this exceptionally hot Jerusalem night. Police fear that chas v’sholom some of the balconies of the old buildings may give way as they are all severely overcrowded as is any and all areas providing a view of the levaya.
Justice Minister Prof. Yaakov Ne’eman, who is known to be close to a number of gedolei yisrael, can be seen near the meis reciting tehillim.
A police chopper is set to take to the skies in a short time, after which the first police estimates regarding the size of the crowd will be released.
A fence of some type collapsed atop people attending the levaya. There is a considerable amount of screaming as EMS personnel are trying to get to the area to determine the extent of injuries, which according to preliminary reports are all light. This is among the serious concerns of police, who are all too well aware of the old buildings and balconies that are simply not designed for the weight and the amount of people.
There are also many cases of people passing out, apparently a combination of the heat and emotions.
HaGaon HaRav Yitzchak Zilberstein, a son-in-law is now reciting tehillim and delivering words of chizuk. It is very difficult to understand the words of the rabbonim shlita. There is a malfunction with the public address system and the words broadcast via the speakers at Chanan Street are quite distorted. Apparently the speakers in other areas are working probably.
Police have closed the entrance to the capital via Route 1, the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway. One may enter the capital via Route 443 (Jerusalem-Modi’in Highway) or Route 9 (Arazim Tunnels)
The media repeatedly mentions the fact that the gadol hador zt”l had six generations of descendants, a rare reality and newsworthy fact that is being brought to the nation, including the millions of non-frum Israelis who perhaps until tonight were not familiar with the posek hador’s name or life.
The mainstream media aired short video clips of the rav’s life during the evening news, bringing a respectful picture of the rav and seeking to explain the loss to the Jewish People for the many Israelis who nebach are far from frumkheit yet seek to understand why so many people opt to remain outdoors on this hot Jerusalem night to pay respects to an elderly rabbi at this late hour.
Rav Zilberstein completed his words, asking mechila on behalf of the members of the rav’s shiur. In keeping with the posek hador’s request, hespeidim are limited to brief words of chizuk.
The procession is preparing to move for the walk to Har Menuchos.
The chevra kadisha is reciting the familiar psukim as they prepare to move towards the beis hachaim in a few minutes.
The first crowd estimate is “over 100,000”. Ichud Hatzalah at 22:30 reports treating 28 persons since the start of the levaya. The EMS organization reported earlier it is deploying 1,000 volunteers along the levaya route.
The tzibur is being addressed in Yiddish and Hebrew asking the crowd to clear the way for the chevra kadisha.
In keeping with minhag Yerushalayim the family members will not be melave the meis.
A bris was held in Modi’in Illit shortly after 17:00 and the child was named Yosef Sholom after the gadol hador ZT”L.
Those in charge are trying to direct the crowd via the public address system but it is not happening at a satisfactory pace. Compliance in such a densely populated crowd is not instantaneous despite the best intentions of the crowd.
Police appear increasingly concerned over the crowd, the amount of people seen on the fragile aged balconies, leaning against railings and on rooftops.
Shas leader Deputy Prime Minister R’ Eli Yishai released a statement following the Histalkus of the posek hador.
Yishai stated Maran HaGaon HaRav Ovadia Yosef Shlita is “broken” after hearing the news. He explained the rav took the news very hard.
For those familiar with the area, the traffic is so backed up that motorists are leaving their vehicles alongside the Ramot Road and walking in an effort to connect with the levaya entourage.
יושב בסתר עליון is being recited at this time.
A police helicopter has begun hovering as it monitors the crowds in different neighborhoods, reporting to commanders on the ground.
Ichud Hatzalah reports “hundreds of thousands” taking part in the levaya. One must remember that persons attending the levaya are found throughout areas of the capital, from Meah Shearim to Givat Shaul, as well as other neighborhoods such as Shmuel HaNavi, walking and doing their utmost to link up with the levaya as traffic snarls are reports around the city.
LEVAYA VIDEO & PHOTOS:
Credits: Kuvien Images – Akiva Jessel, Chaim Schvarcz, and Yitzchok Russek.
Logisitics Support: A. L. Ludzker
YWN PHOTO LINK: Click HERE for photos by Kuvien Images (Additoonal photos constantly being added):
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(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)