Hundreds of thousands of mourners attended the levaya on Tuesday of Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, leader of the non-Hasidic Lithuanian haredi community, who died at the age of 104.
Rav Shteinman, considered the gadol hador — greatest sage — of his generation, died Tuesday morning of cardiac arrest after being in and out of the hospital for much of the last year. The levaya later that day began in front of his home in Bnei Brak. There were no eulogies in response to a request that the rav put in his will. He also asked that his followers not name their children after him.
Israel President Reuven Rivlin said Rav Shteinman had “carried the entire weight of the existence of the Jewish people on his shoulders.”
“He was a person whose wisdom was second only to his humility,” Rivlin said.
Rabbi Shteinman resided in a small furnished apartment for his entire adult life and held few public positions. He requested a simple burial plot, explaining, “My place in the cemetery is next to regular people.” He asked that no titles be written on his headstone, which should be “the cheapest and simplest” one available.
The RCA referred to Rabbi Shteinman as “one of the 20th and 21st century’s most widely respected decisors of Jewish law and one of the great communal leaders.”
He “was universally respected for his erudition and insights,” said RCA President, Rabbi Elazar Muskin. “He served as a leader whose advice and guidance in all matters of Jewish law and public policy were sought. His presence and inspiration will be sorely missed.”
The OU said he was a “guiding force impacting the lives of untold numbers of Jews in Israel and around the world. We have lost a leader who was a paragon of humility, simplicity, and passion for Torah and his inspiration will live long beyond his years.”
“With the death of Rabbi Shteinman, the Jewish people lost a central beacon of spirit, heritage and morality,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. “He was an important link in the chain of Torah which spans millennia.”