Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
Ten years ago today Rav Mordechai Eliyahu, may the memory of the righteous be a blessing, passed away. Chief Sephardic Rabbi, rabbinical judge, kabbalist and above all — a father and an educator. His children tell the following about him:
- “This is a detail that will perhaps sound strange: only at a very advanced age did we hear a sentence such as ‘now let’s pause and say a dvar Torah during our meal.’ With us, every conversation naturally revolved around Torah matters. And all the fun that we had with our father as children revolved around Jewish practice and learning. He had us participate in building the Sukkah even though this lengthened the time it took to build it and in the process we learned the Sukkah halachot. We purchased together the four Sukkot species. He tied the tzitizit with us and so we learned about that subject. This partnership that he created with us built within us entire worlds”.
- “Despite his greatness, father would wash dishes in order to help around the house and he would also put us to sleep. When we asked for a story before bed – and climbed up on him while asking – he would tell us stories of tzadikim (the righteous). But we always knew along with these normal and natural behaviors, father was special. In first grade I went to the home of a friend and saw his father lying on a couch just passing the time reading a newspaper. I was in shock. I looked at his father as though I had seen an ox in the living room. He said to me, ‘Child, not everyone is like your father.'”.
- “Father was always busy but it was especially the attention he gave to all the people around him that taught us so much. Hundreds of people would come every day and I would look from the side at how he dealt with this constant flow of humanity – how important every person was to him and how much time he devoted to each”.
- “When things were not working out with one of his students and the connection between them was not sufficiently proper and good in his eyes, he would diligently pray for that student. There were even cases where he fasted over a student. When teachers would come to him with complaints about a student he would ask, First of all, are you praying for him?”.