Headed by roshei yeshivos, roshei kollelim, dayanim and rabbonim, a large crowd was on hand Sunday to lay to rest HaRav Yaakov Rosenthal zt"l, av beis din of Haifa and rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas HaGra for decades. He passed away on Shabbos Parshas Emor at the age of 86 after being bedridden for a number of months.
The niftar was born in 5684 to HaRav Avrohom Dovid Rosenthal, the rov of Jerusalem's Shaarei Chessed neighborhood and a ravad in the city, and to his mother, Keilo Yehudis.
Throughout his childhood and adolescence Yaakov studied at Eitz Chaim in Jerusalem, first at the talmud Torah and later at the yeshiva ketanoh and yeshiva gedoloh. Even after his wedding he studied at the Eitz Chaim kollel.
While still at a tender age he was already known in Jerusalem as a tremendous shakdon and would meet with the Brisker Rov and the Chazon Ish to discuss his learning.
He married Peninoh, the daughter of HaRav Mordechai Shmuel Kroll, the rov of Kfar Chassidim; she stood by his side throughout his lifetime, enabling him to learn, teach and serve as a moreh horo'oh, and even typed his books.
After they wed he continued his intense Torah study and in 5711 (1951) was appointed a dayan, at first in Tzfas and later in Haifa.
Immediately upon arrival he worked to make Torah life blossom and flourish in the city, founding Haifa's first kollel, Kollel Yeshivas HaGra, which became a seedbed producing dozens of exceptional rabbonim and morei horo'oh over the years.
He also founded a school in Haifa where aspiring girls were groomed to marry avreichim and build Torah-true homes.
In 5723 (1963) HaRav Zalman Sorotzkin named him to the executive committee of Vaad Hayeshivos. Meanwhile he continued teaching Torah and heading the yeshiva, and over the past 20 years opened many branches of the kollel, which eventually became a nationwide network. Until just a few months ago he periodically gave in-depth shiurim on the masechtos being studied at the kollel, making the rounds of all of the branches in a single day, while delivering a shiur on a different topic at each branch, according to the sugyoh being studied at that kollel.
He also served as the rov and head of the Chevra Kadisha in Haifa, carefully adhering to halochoh and age-old customs to ensure the mesorah and local minhagim remained unchanged.
The fruits of his labors over the years were compiled in a 14-volume set called Mishnas Yaakov covering all of the Rambam's classic work, Yad Chazokoh. He also left behind many other writings, some of which are already being prepared for publication.
The levaya began at Beis Knesses HaGra in Shaarei Chessed, where the opening eulogy was given by HaRav Shmuel Auerbach, followed by the deceased's brother-in-law, HaRav Yitzchok Isaac Prag, HaRav Yitzchok Ezrachi, one of the roshei yeshiva of Yeshivas Mir, and his brother, HaRav Yehoshua Meir Rosenthal, who serves as the rov of Shaarei Chessed.
When the levaya resumed in Haifa hespeidim were delivered by his brother-in-law, HaRav Yaakov Edelstein; HaRav Boruch Dov Povarsky; his brother, HaRav Moshe Aharon Rosenthal; the chief rabbis of Haifa, Rav Cohen and Rav Shalush; Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, who was a talmid under the niftar and HaRav Y. Metzger and knew the niftar from his childhood in Haifa; HaRav Yechiel Michel Stern, the rov of Jerusalem's Ezras Torah neighborhood and the head of a kollel in Tirat HaCarmel; his son HaRav Yisroel, who was named to take over his father's post; and his son HaRav Yosef Zundel, rosh kollel of Kollel HaGra in Petach Tikva's Ganei Hadar neighborhood.