Jerusalem - Rav Yoram Abergel, Torah Giant, Passes Away At 58
Jerusalem - The Torah world has been plunged into mourning tonight following the untimely passing of Rav Yoram Michael Abergel, a leading Torah figure in the Sephardic world.
Rav Abergel, 58, succumbed to his illness on shabbos at the Tel Hashomer Hospital where he had been hospitalized on-and-off for the last several months. His funeral took place this evening in Israel at 10:30PM, setting out from his yeshiva in Netivot, and was attended by thousands of mourners.
In addition to serving as the head of a large kehilla in Netivot, Rav Abergel also oversaw dozens of Torah institutions with thousands of students throughout Israel. In 2012, Forbes Magazine listed Rav Abergel as number 8 on the list of the wealthiest individuals because of the 35 million NIS estimated value of his institutions.
Born in the Southern moshav of Brosh to a traditional family, Rav Abergel was of Moroccan descent. As a young man, he studied at the “Bet Yehuda” Bnei Akiva yeshiva in Kfar Maimom and then in yeshivot in Chevron and the Negev, where he learned about Chassidism. After he married, Rav Abergel continued his learning in Bet Yisroel Kollel in Netivot.
In 1985, with the blessing of the Baba Sali from Netivot, he established the Kol Rina Kollel. Today, Rav Abergel’s reach has expanded to include a network of institutions with more than two thousand young students. Graduates of Kol Rina have gone on to establish different yishuvim and communities that adhere to Rabbi Abergel’s teachings.
Rabbi Abergel influence also extended into the political arena. In the most recent Knesset elections, both Aryeh Deri of the Shas Party and Eli Yishai of the Yachad Party sought Rabbi Abergel’s endorsement. Ultimately, Rav Abergel supported the Yachad Party, dealing a big blow to the Shas party because Rav Abergel was connected with so many Sephardic kollels.
In response to Rav Abergel’s death, Shas issued a statement saying it “deeply mourned his untimely death,” calling his passing “a great loss” and wondering “who will take his place?”
Yachad Party Chairman, Eli Yishai, also issued a statement calling the rabbi, “The great genius rabbi of Israel, a righteous man.” Yishai said he “was privileged to be in his shadow, to be blessed from his mouth, and to act according to his conduct. The love and support he gave me, I will treasure my whole life.”
Despite his political leanings, Rav Abergel was accepted in national religious circles and among religious Zionists. He even taught Torah and chassidus in these institutions. Rav Abergel also had close ties to the Chabad movement and participated in many Chabad events held throughout the country. He often spoke in praise of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and was one of the signatories on the rabbinic legal ruling stating that the Lubavitcher Rebbe was, in fact, the moshiach.
The Deputy Mayor of Netivot, Yaakov Ma’alimi, who is a considered a close friend of Rabbi Abergel, said the rabbi was “one of the greats of the generations, with thousands of students throughout Israel.” Ma’alimi referred to Rav Abergel as “a cornerstone in the Torah world of the religious charedi.” He also noted that Rav Abergel was mikarev tens of thousands of secular Jews to the world of Torah. “It’s a very great loss to Netivot, to the charedi community, and to the Torah world,” Ma’alimi said.
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