Fatherly Love and Sage Guidance: HaRav Mordecai Eliyahu
Justice4JP Release - March 22, 2003
A Thumbnail Sketch of Jonathan Pollard's Rabbi,
His Eminence, the Rishon LeZion and former Chief Rabbi of Israel
Rabbi Mordecai Eliyahu, shlita
In response to inquiries relating to a recent J4JP Release (Re Film: THE CASE OF JONATHAN POLLARD 03/21/03) J4JP is pleased to make the following information on Rabbi Mordecai Eliyahu publicly available in English for the first time.
His Eminence, Rabbi Mordecai Eliyahu, shlita, has been Jonathan Pollard's rabbi since 1991 when he first visited Jonathan in U.S.P Marion. Rabbi Eliyahu is the Moreh Derech (spiritual guide and mentor) not only to Esther and Jonathan Pollard, but also for the Pollard Case. His keen, insightful analysis, advice, and instruction guide all of the Pollard team initiatives. A former Dayan (Judge) in Israel's High Court of Justice, Rabbi Eliyahu's sage counsel and blessing is sought by the Pollard team before any new initiative is undertaken. A brief biographical sketch of the distinguished rabbi follows:
Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, shlita, was born in the Old City of Jerusalem in Adar 1929. His father, the great Chacham (Sage) Salman Eliyahu z'l, and one of the most renown Kabbalists in Jerusalem, influenced his son to love the Torah and its esoteric studies at an early age.
Although his father passed away when Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu was only 11 years old, he continued to study under other preeminent Chachamim (sages). Among them were Rabbi Ezra Attiah z'l, the head of the Yeshiva Porat Yosef in Jerusalem; Rabbi Tzedaka Hutzein z'l, one of the most revered rabbis of Jerusalem; and the famous luminary Rabbi Yishayahu z'l, the author of the "Chazon Ish". Each of these teachers inspired within him his strong faith, trust and special love of the Torah. Rabbi Eliyahu graduated with honors from the Institute of Rabbis and Religious Judges, under the direction of Rabbi Yitzhak Nissim. His erudition and devotion to his studies led him to be the youngest rabbi ever elected to the post of Dayan (Judge) in Israel.
Rabbi Eliyahu excelled as a Dayan in the Religious Court of Beersheva for four years before transferring to the Religious Court in Jerusalem. There, he was elected to Israel's Supreme Religious Court. The general public grew to know him as an impeccably reliable Torah authority, able to solve intricate problems of law and to answer difficult legal questions. With Ha'Shem's help, with his warm personality, grace and vast knowledge of Torah, Rabbi Eliyahu was then elected to the post of Chief Rabbi of Israel (Rishon LeZion).
He returned to his birth city of Old Jerusalem to be inaugurated as Chief Rabbi in the famous Beit HaKnesset (synagogue) of Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakai. This is the same venue where many years before, the illustrious Rabbi Ben Zion Meir Chai Uziel z'l was also inaugurated.
As Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Eliyahu worked hard to imbue the non-religious public with a better understanding of Jewish tradition and the importance of the Torah. He lectured and taught extensively at secular moshavim (Israeli cooperatives) and kibbutzim (Israeli collective settlements) as well as non-religious public schools. He also traveled extensively throughout the world, teaching Jewish communities the importance of fighting assimilation, increasing Sabbath observance, educating children, observing family purity, and the need to immigrate to Israel. During his tenure as Chief Rabbi, Israel enjoyed a measure of peace. Her soldiers returned from Lebanon, and Israel did not go to war with any of its neighbors.
Today Rabbi Eliyahu continues to educate Jewish communities all over the world through his teachings, book writings and his well-known televised weekly lecture which is broadcast all over the world by satellite. He has written many books, including Paths to Purity, which is available in more than five languages, and Halakot Moed, which lists and explains the different laws for each Jewish holiday. He has also edited the Daily and Holiday Prayer books, providing the pertinent laws before each prayer or section.
One of Rabbi Eliyahu's most important works to date was the ambitious and painstaking addition of annotations to the Kitzour Shulchan Aruch of the Gaon Harav Shlomo Gunzfreid z'l, according to "Mishna Berurah" of the Gaon the Hafetz Hayyim z'l; according to the author of the book "Mishna Halachot" on the "Mishna Berurah"; according to "Misgaret HaShulchan" in the methodology of "Shulchan Aruch HaRav" of the Gaon Rabeinu Shneur Zalman of Liadi z'l; according to "Darchei Halacha" per the Rulings of the Shulchan Aruch of Maran Rabbi Yosef Karo, z'l; and according to the rulings of The ARI HaKadosh zt'l as they are brought in the "Ben Ish Hai" zt'l, "Kaf HaHayyim" and others, and according to Rabbi Eliyahu's own Sephardic rulings. The book that was produced as a result has provided the Jewish People with one consolidated, abbreviated Shulchan Aruch [Guide to Jewish Law and Custom] which is relevant to all Jewish communities, regardless of their origin or traditions. This book is praised for its clarity and conciseness. It can be used to teach students of all traditions, thus further uniting the Jewish people.
Rabbi Eliyahu is a much sought-after authority for his Torah and Halakha knowledge and for his great piety, resulting in positive answers to his blessings and prayers. His best testimonial is the intense love and loyalty that the public expresses towards him. Rabbi Eliyahu is the only Chief Rabbi of Israel to be equally beloved, respected and followed by both the Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jewish public.
Rabbi Eliyahu lives in Jerusalem with his wife. Rabbanit (Mrs.) Eliyahu is very devoted to community service and is involved in running a number of Jewish organizations. Their four children also follow in the path of their parents, serving the Jewish People. Their oldest son, an ordained rabbi and lawyer, serves an important public position in the Israeli government; their second son is the Chief Rabbi of Sfad, and their youngest son is a Rosh Kollel (Dean) in Jerusalem. Their daughter teaches at a religious girls' school.
In spite of opposition from the Government of Israel, Rabbi Eliyahu first visited Jonathan Pollard in early 1991 in his official role as Chief Rabbi of Israel. After the visit, Rabbi Eliyahu made a formal offer to the US Department of Justice requesting that Jonathan be released into his custody and offering to be Jonathan's guarantor. He repeated this offer to the White House in 1991and again every year since then.
From the first time they met, Jonathan and Rabbi Eliyahu immediately developed a strong bond and a loving father-son relationship. Rabbi Eliyahu has been Esther and Jonathan Pollard's Moreh Derech and Possek ever since. Rabbi Eliyahu continues to be actively involved in the Pollard case and has met with many government officials and religious leaders about the case. He is also the spiritual guide and mentor to the entire Pollard team.