We are now in the Jewish month of Cheshvan, considered "the dark month" on account of the fact that it is the only month on the Jewish calender that has no holy days. To add to this darkness, just an hour ago we heard the news that the great Jewish leader Rav Ovadia Yosef, has left this world, at the age of 93, leaving behind a gaping void that will be impossible to fill.
Rav Ovadia Yosef was an exemplary individual who lived a long full life, and was one of the great Torah scholars of this generation. While controversy certainly was attached to his name, his intentions were always pure, and in the name of the Torah, and the survival of the Jewish people. His extensive knowledge and amazing memory were incomporable, and his passing is a great loss to the world.
As we speak buses are filling and departing from every city in the country headed towards Jerusalem for the funeral, which will be held at 6pm. (According to Jewish tradition, burial happens on the same day as the passing. Here in Israel there are cars with speakers that go around to neighborhoods to announce funerals, as there is never time for printed notices.) There will hundreds of thousands in attendance, and the roads to Jerusalem will be open to buses only. The only question is, where will all the mourners gather for the eulogies, which will very likely go on for hours? It is still unknown.
We live a three hour drive from Jerusalem, and my husband just left with a van of 20 or so from our community to pay his respects to Rav Ovadia, and to experience this once in a lifetime gathering— a gathering that is sure to be heartwrenching, and yet inspiring at the same time. Rav Ovadia is an amazing example of what a person can achieve in a lifetime.
And on a final note, I have to say that we were very blessed to have personal contact with Rav Ovadia. We once lived in the neighborhood just down the street from Rav Ovadia, and my husband had contact with the Rav many times over the years. We were even honored to have the Rav as the sandek (the person who holds the baby and thus has an effect on his future!) for the bris of my son who is now ten.