Eight hundred thousand people lined the streets of Jerusalem within hours to pay their last respects to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef zt”l, making it the largest funeral in Israel’s history. The streets were engulfed by a sea of his followers who loved and respected him and were there to honor their supreme spiritual leader. The van carrying his body was held up for hours as masses blocked the route to the cemetery.
Outside his home, weeping seminary students tore their white shirts with razor blades, in a traditional sign of mourning. “How will the world run without the sun? How will the world run without the moon? What will be of us? Who will lead us? Who will take his place?” lamented Shas legislator Arye Deri.
Rabbi Reuven Elbaz said, “Rabbi Ovadia was the father of Israel. He gave his heart and his soul for the people of Israel. There has never been as rabbi as great as him.”
Eulogies to the rabbi were given outside the Porat Yosef Yeshiva in Jerusalem’s Sanhedria neighborhood, and the funeral procession then continued to the Sanhedria cemetery where he was interred alongside his wife, Margalit, who died in 1994.
The rabbi’s sons and most trusted allies gave tearful eulogies to their departed father and leader, and spoke of the empty void he has left behind him. “You taught us to come down to the nation and not just to climb higher,” said Rabbi Avraham Yosef, eldest son of Rabbi Ovadia, in his eulogy. “There was no one like him in our generation and no one will come after him.” His son David continued in the same vein, saying he had no one to ask questions on halacha any longer. “You were the Moses of our generation, father, who shall we ask now?” he cried. “With whom shall we speak? Father! The world cannot continue as before. The sun has set. How shall this generation continue without you? We are orphans now.”