The crown has fallen off our heads, woe to us. Two days ago, one of the greatest poskim (halakhic decisors) and lammedanim (expert talmudists), Rav Shalom Yossef Elyashiv of Jerusalem, passed away, leaving the Jewish world bereft of his presence, counsel and expertise.
Regardless of where one stands philosophically within tradition Orthodox Judaism, this is a great loss.
The New York Times ran a very well written obituary about R’ Elyashiv here.
Some choice quotes:
Rabbi Elyashiv’s decisions were honored, if not always obeyed, beyond his own ultra-Orthodox, non-Hasidic world known as Lithuanian or yeshivish Jews. His word also influenced Hasidim, Orthodox Sephardim from Muslim countries and many modern Orthodox Jews.
Rabbi Elyashiv’s opinions — for years he was a member of Israel’s highest rabbinical court — were crucial to controversies within the country about who is a Jew and when is a marriage truly dissolved and when is a conversion legitimate.
He also cast decisions in the most private of cases. Hundreds of Jews would stream to his home — a modest one-bedroom apartment in an alleyway in the ultra-Orthodox quarter of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem — to seek his opinions on their personal quandaries, or simply his blessings. They also came to his nightly tutorials on Talmud, much of which he knew by heart.