Tens of thousands of brokenhearted, freshly orphaned Yidden streamed to the Shaare Chessed neighborhood in Yerushalayim Sunday morning for the levayah of the Rosh Yeshivah, Hagaon Harav Shmuel Auerbach, zt”l.
As the terrible news spread of Rav Shmuel’s sudden petirah after the end of Shabbos, many talmidim from across Eretz Yisrael headed to his yeshivah, toward the same home that had been the address for Jews from across the world seeking daas Torah, a brachah, or a solution to a personal tzarah.
Many bachurim and avreichim from yeshivos and kollelim across the country traveled to Yerushalayim to take part in the levayah, as well as many Rabbanim, Roshei Yeshivah and Rebbes.
The mittah of the Rosh Yeshivah was overnight in his yeshivah, Yeshivas Maalos HaTorah, with many thousands coming to part tearfully from their beloved Rosh Yeshivah.
On Sunday morning, the mittah was taken to the Gra Shul in Shaare Chessed, where the hespedim were held, ahead of the final journey, onward to Har Hamenuchos, where he will be buried.
The streets of Shaare Chessed were packed long before the mittah left the yeshivah.
LIVE UPDATES FROM THE LEVAYAH: (All times are Israel time)
11:00 a.m.: The mittah arrived at the Gra Shul. Tehillim was recited.
11:10 a.m.: The first maspid, Hagaon Harav Avraham Dov Auerbach, Rav of Teveria, brother of the niftar, began. In his teary hesped, Rav Avraham Dov quoted the passuk in last week’s parashah, “Shemen zayis zach, pure olive oil,” for the use of the Menorah. He said that Reb Shmuel was shemen zayis zach, pure olive oil, all his actions were l’shem Shamayim.
“My brother would delve in the words of the Gra, he was zocheh to ‘giluy Eliyahu.‘ Undoubtedly, the Gra is coming out to greet him in Shamayim.”
11:20 a.m.: Harav Tzvi Friedman, Rav of the Ohr Hachaim neighborhood in Bnei Brak, spoke next. He spoke of the mesirus nefesh of Harav Shmuel regarding any issue he saw that needed to be tended to in Klal Yisrael.
11:35 a.m.: Hagaon Harav Ezriel Auerbach, Rav of Bayit Vegan, brother of the niftar, was the next maspid. In his hesped, he moaned the loss of a brother, a Gadol baTorah. “There was not a Tosafos in Shas that he didn’t know, every word of the Rishonim, as well as the sifrei Kabbalah – a baki in kol haTorah kulah.
“We didn’t even have a chance to daven for you,” he cried. “V’einenu – ki lakach oso Elokim, and he was no longer, for Hashem had taken him.” Reb Ezriel also elaborated on his devotion and care to almanos, yesomim and anyone in need.
11:55 a.m.: The next maspid was Harav Yisrael Yitzchak Kalmanowitz from Bnei Brak. He expressed in depth the devotion of the Rosh Yeshivah to all his talmidim, and to the entire Torah world.
12:05 p.m.: Hagaon Harav Mordechai Auerbach, Rav of Kehillas Avir Yaakov in Tel Aviv, brother of the niftar, spoke of the loss to the Torah world with the petirah of his brother.
“He never stopped learning, was never seen without a sefer. He fulfilled the words of Chazal, ‘Veshinantem l’vanecha,’ by disseminating Torah to his multitudes of talmidim.”
12:15 p.m: Harav Baruch Shmuel Deutsch, Rosh Yeshivah in Yeshivas Kol Torah, and close talmid of Hagaon Harav Shmuel Auerbach, was the next speaker. He elaborated on the gadlus in Torah of Reb Shmuel, as well as his close connection to the Gedolim of the previous generations, notably the Brisker Rav, the Chazon Ish, as well as Harav Shach and Harav Elyashiv.
“It was even hard to get him distracted from the Gemara, even for tzibbur issues; Torah and avodas Hashem was his entire being.”
12:25 p.m.: Hagaon Harav Moshe Sternbuch, Raavad of the Badatz Eidah Chareidis in Yerushalayim spoke.
12:35 p.m.: Harav Tzvi Vieder, Rav of Kiryat HaYovel neighborhood and close talmid of Hagaon Harav Shmuel Auerbach, delivered a short hesped.
12:40 p.m.: The final hesped was given by Harav Yosef Petrov, one of the closest people to Hagaon Harav Shmuel Auerbach. He sobbed as he spoke of the hidden and lesser known aspects of the Rosh Yeshivah.
1:00 p.m.: After the recital of Selichos (Shelosh Esrei Middos) and kabalas ol Malchus Shamayim, the levayah began its way toward Har Hamenuchos.
3:40 p.m.: The kevurah of the Rosh Yeshivah. He was buried next to his wife, Rebbetzin Rachel Auerbach, a”h. As the Rosh Yeshivah was lowered and covered, loud sobbing was heard.
Many thousands return from Har Hamenuchos, with kriyah on their jackets, mourning the loss of their Rosh Yeshivah.
Zecher tzaddik livrachah.