American bachurim and avreichim, Israeli bnei Torah, chassidim, Sfardim, everyone felt a part of this tragedy that has befallen the community. Most of the volunteers who helped in the search did not know Aaron Sofer personally, but they were impelled by “areivim kol Yisrael”; at the levayah the same feelings were prevalent.
The levayah set out from the street in front of the yeshivah where Aaron learned, the yeshivah of Harav Tzvi Kaplan, shlita, on Rechov Even HaEzel in the Ezras Torah neighborhood.
The first maspid was Harav Yaakov Waldenberg, Rav of the Ezras Torah neighborhood.
He began by stating that whatever Hashem does is not only for the good, but it is also just; it is all omek hadin, the profundity of justice.
Next, Harav Yitzchak Tuviah Weiss, Gaavad of the Eidah Chareidis, mourned the loss of a ben Torah, a scion of chashuve Rabbanim, calling it a loss not only to his bereaved parents, family and friends, but to all of Klal Yisrael, as Aaron was surely destined to be a marbitz Torah too. Harav Weiss concluded his hesped with a call to all to learn from Aaron and strengthen themselves in Torah and maasim tovim as Rosh Hashanah approaches.
Harav Yerucham Kaplan was the next maspid. “Baruch attah be’voacha u’varuch attah be’tzeisecha!” he began. Aaron was born into a Torah family, lived the life of a ben Torah, and was niftar as a ben Torah. Bilam asked, “Tamus nafshi mos yesharim,” he wants to die as a Yid does. The Chofetz Chaim says: To die as a kosher Yid – of which even Bilam realized the value – one must live like a Yid. It may not always be easy, but that’s what it takes. Aaron was zocheh to live his life in the tent of Torah and to pass away a ben Torah.
The Rosh Yeshivah, Harav Tzvi Kaplan, broke down as he was maspid his talmid. He related that seventeen years ago, after the first Maariv in the newly-founded yeshivah, the Mashgiach said the following: We may think that the Yeshivah shel Maalah is just one large yeshivah, but that’s not so. Even in Shamayim each yeshivah has its own makom Torah. So I thought, said Rav Tzvi, that I would – when my time came – be the founder of the yeshivah in Shamayim. Who could have imagined that a bachur from the yeshivah would be the one to found our yeshivah in Shamayim… We pray that Aaron alone will represent the entire yeshivah in Shamayim. He comes to beis din shel maalah with 23 years of Torah and yiras Shamayim, kulam shavim le’tovah.
The bereaved father, Reb Moshe Tzvi Sofer, began with tzidduk hadin: “Hashem nassan, v’Hashem lakach, yehi Shem Hashem mevorach.”
Aaron, he said (speaking in English), was a masmid – every hour of learning was a full hour. He learned with a geshmak, he never missed tefillah b’tzibbur, and he always came early to prepare to daven before davening. He called home twice a day, and never did anything without his parent’s consent. He was medakdek b’mitzvos, checking into every detail again and again until it was perfectly clear. Reb Moshe Tzvi said that his son was undoubtedly going straight to Yeshivah shel Maalah as an adam hashalem.
He thanked all the volunteers and the organizations for their help in the search, and all of Klal Yisrael for their tefillos and kabalos tovos on behalf of his son.
Aaron’s brothers also spoke briefly, asking mechilah on behalf of the family and friends.
It was announced that Gedolei Yisrael request that women light Shabbos candles early this week, and men learn something extra before Shabbos in memory of Aaron, z”l.
The levayah then left to the Eretz Hachaim cemetery, just outside Beit Shemesh, where Aaron was buried near his grandfather, at the auspicious time of Erev Shabbos after chatzos.
Yehi zichro baruch.