Ha-Rav Mordechai Eliyahu ztz"l: The Torah Scholar and Gadol

Israel is not bereft of Torah scholars – each one illuminating the Nation in his own area. They are all beloved, they are all flawless, but rare are the ones who are Gedolim, who raised themselves in their strength above their particular area and possess a comprehensive knowledge. This is how our Rabbi, Ha-Gaon Ha-Rav Mordechai Eliyahu ztz"l, was: Connected to the entire Torah, to all types of holy work and to the entire Nation. A blessing rested on everything his hands touched.

There is a Gaon in Torah, enclosed in the four amot of Halachah. And there is a Gaon in kindness, with the Torah of kindness on his tongue, to spread to all. But our Rabbi Mordechai possessed a double spirit – the Living Torah and the love of kindness. From his youth, he was a great "Shakdan" (diligent in learning), and learning never departed from him. Even when suffering from difficult poverty and physical pains, he cleaved to Torah with great dedication.

Our Rabbi did not merit the Torah out of nowhere, but through incredible effort in this holy endeavor, which made him a supreme Torah Scholar, Posek, Dayan on the Beit Ha-Din Ha-Gadol and the Chief Rabbi of Israel. In his youth, our Rabbi already fulfilled "If you have learned much Torah, do not take credit for yourself," rather he tirelessly traveled to any place where people would listen – and, in fact, they wanted to listen, everyone wanted to listen.

It is amazing how people in our Nation who are so different from one another would come to ask him questions and learn Torah from his mouth: Charedim, Religious-Zionists and the secular, Torah scholars and working people, adults and children, lovers of the Land of Israel and residents of outside of Israel, those who learn the hidden Torah and those who learn the revealed Torah, Rabbis of the Edah Ha-Charedit and Zionist Rabbis, military men and settlers, doctors and activists for the release of Jonathan Pollard.

In his great wisdom and amazing broad knowledge, in both the heavenly and earthly matters, our Rabbi was able to give each person his spiritual sustenance. Everyone benefited from his light, and everyone loved to hear him, because he loved everyone. Our Rabbi Ha-Gaon ztz"l was not boxed into a particular political party or a certain group, rather he worked with everyone. He saw the good in each person, and strengthened the good in each person.

He was not involved in negativity. He rejoiced over every good thing. He rejoiced over every learning of Torah, and over every fulfillment of a mitzvah, of any kind. He was happy to help, he did not push away or excommunicate, rather he supported any stream and path which contained the light of Torah in it, just as the heart is responsible for the blood flowing to each of the limbs.

This is the nature of a truly great man, who is a Gadol in everything and follows in the ways of the Master of the Universe, who loves everything and gives of his good to everyone. Our Rabbi received every person with a cheerful countenance, with a personal connection, with true love and ready to give advice in any matter. Everyone who came to him felt as if he was with his father – as is the law regarding a true Torah scholar that everyone is a relative – and each person would benefit from his Torah.

This Gadol travelled throughout the entire country in order to strengthen anything which needed to be strengthened, to strengthen the Torah, to strengthen the warriors of this Land, to strengthen for war – the war over Torah and the war over the Land. And it was all done with immense joy. The same joy of our Rabbi for learning Torah spread to anything good.

It is difficult to understand, difficult to grasp, how he had time for everything, rather he followed in the path of the Master of the Universe, for there is still space for more and more in a full vessel. This Gadol, who was needed by so many, left us to lament, and we will try and exert ourselves to follow in his illuminated and joyous path – full of Torah.