Motzei Shabbos, the 23rd of Teves, a large and bereft thong accompanied HaRav Shlomo Yichya zt"l on his last earthly journey. He was a ram in the Mesillas Yeshorim yeshiva in Bnei Brak, and one of the most prominent members of Kollel Chazon Ish. He was niftar on Shabbos night after a difficult illness. He was only 52 years old at the time of his petirah, and left behind 14 orphans.
HaRav Yichya was born in a home which was thoroughly imbued with Torah and yiras Shomayim. As a youth, he excelled in ahavas Torah and pure yiras Shomayim. He studied in Yeshivas Hanegev, where he was very close to its roshei yeshiva. In Yeshivas Hanegev he was deeply influenced by the illustrious personalities of his mentors, and was outstanding both in his hasmodoh and in his character traits.
After his marriage, he established an exemplary Torah home, permeated with yegia and shekeido in Torah. He studied in Kollel Torah voChaim and Kollel Chazon Ish, where he was considered one of the finest avreichim.
In time, he was invited to serve as a ram in the Mesillas Yeshorim yeshiva, where he merited to spread Torah and yirah to many students, who deeply admired him for his fascinating shiurim and lucid explanations. His many students were very attached to him and he had a profound influence on them. As a maggid shiur, he was sincerely interested in the progress of each and every one of his students, and devoted many hours to them.
Five years ago, he contracted a difficult illness and underwent a successful operation. After recuperating, he continued to spread Torah with added vigor. However a year ago, the illness erupted once more and his health began to deteriorate. Despite his difficult condition, he continued to teach and to study as usual, making certain to daven in a minyan even when it was very difficult for him to leave the house.
On the night of Shabbos parshas Shemos, he returned his pure soul, which had been refined by suffering, to its Maker.
At the levaya, which left his home on motzei Shabbos, HaRav Shimon Baadani, HaRav Nissim Karelitz, HaRav Nissim Peretz and HaRav Yisroel Yaakobson delivered hespedim. The rabbonim described the uniqueness of the niftar, who was a model for others in his hasmodoh and yegia in Torah, a symbol of tremendous dedication to the chinuch of his children, and an exemplary mentor in his manner of inculcating his students with Torah and yiras Shomayim. They also described his humility and histapkus, his caution not to speak devorim beteilim in the beis medrash, his life's dedication to Torah and his acquisition of outstanding character traits.
The levaya left from his home in the Mercaz Baalei Melocha neighborhood in Bnei Brak to the Kollel Chazon Ish, where he studied Torah diligently for many years. Beside the Kollel, his son, a student of the Or Yisroel yeshiva of Petach Tikvah, delivered a hesped in which he stressed his father's tremendous bitochon and exertion in Torah under all circumstances.
"One time, I saw him crying. I asked him what was wrong and he replied that he couldn't study Torah any more, because the illness had damaged his eyes. I replied: `Abba, you can learn from tapes.' He answered: `My son, tapes lack the light of Torah,' and once more burst into tears."
Even during his final days, his sole concern was that his sons progress in Torah and mitzvos. As he prepared for his passage to olam shekulo tov, he studied bechavrusa in the mornings and in the afternoons with his sons.
He is survived by his wife, who stood by his side throughout their marriage with amazing dedication, and by fourteen children, only two of whom are married. His many students and acquaintances bitterly mourn his passing.