The Torah world was plunged into mourning with the passing of the gaon HaRav Nissim Toledano zt"l, rosh yeshivas Shearis Yosef, who spread Torah for half a century and produced thousands of talmidim.
HaRav Toledano was born in Maknes, Morocco on Chanukah 5692 (1932). His father was HaRav Yosef Toledano, who was the son- in-law of the great gaon HaRav Refoel Boruch Toledano zt"l.
When he was nine years old his mother passed away, and he and his brother moved in with his grandfather who raised them and infused them with a love of Torah and with yiras Shomayim.
At the age of twelve he went to a yeshiva in Morocco, but his grandfather was very worried about the ill winds that were blowing in Morocco at the time, and he sought to send him to study abroad. When a fundraiser for the Toras Emes yeshiva in London, Rav Meir Cohen, arrived in Morocco, he advised HaRav Toledano to send his grandson to learn in England. Three boys, Nissim and his cousins Yaakov and Michael, went to learn in Toras Emes under the rosh yeshiva HaRav Moshe Schneider.
When they arrived in the yeshiva they were learning the sugya of Bal Te'acheir in Nedorim. It was the first them they were exposed to the style of learning of the European yeshivas. He remembered seeing the sefer Kovetz Shiurim of HaRav Elchonon Wassermann. Nissim was moved to tears by the shiurim and the style of learning that he found very attractive.
Nissim learned with great hasmodoh and he soon acquired a reputation as one of the metzuyonim of the yeshiva. HaRav Schneider insisted that the Moroccan talmidim learn Yiddish so that they could fully integrate with the other talmidim. The general success of the boys from Morocco encouraged others to follow in their footsteps, and the yeshiva was happy to accept them.
After two years in London, Nissim went to learn in Gateshead. Some time after that, his grandfather HaRav Toledano met the Ponovezher Rov in France, and he told the Rov that his grandson was learning in Gateshead. The Rov asked HaRav Toledano to send his grandson to his relatively new yeshiva in Bnei Brak, and he promised that he would give the young talmid special attention. So in 5712 the young Nissim went to Ponovezh yeshiva, where he learned until his wedding three years later. He became very close to the Ponovezher Rov, as well as to HaRav Shach, HaRav Povarsky and HaRav Rozovsky. He used to know the shiurim of HaRav Shach and of HaRav Rozovsky by heart.
He married the daughter of HaRav Yaakov Sudari zt"l who was rov of Kfar Saba and later rov of Haifa. She was the granddaughter of HaRav Avraham Harrari-Raful, one of the illustrious chachamim of Yerushalayim. In their meetings before marriage, he told her of his dream and intention to found a yeshiva similar to Ponovezh yeshiva for Sephardic talmidim.
After the wedding, HaRav Nissim continued his learning for several years. In Elul, 5724, he told HaRav Shach of his desire to found a yeshiva, and HaRav Shach encouraged him and gave him an enthusiastic letter of recommendation explaining the important role the yeshiva would fill. The Steipler Gaon also gave him a letter. He soon founded the yeshiva in the Lederman Shul in Bnei Brak, renting an apartment in the area as well.
He had a special siyata deShmaya in meeting a philanthropist who agreed to donate a lot suitable for the yeshiva in the small town of Beer Yaakov. In the summer of 5725 the yeshiva Shearis Yosef opened there for the first time. For a year and a half he commuted from Bnei Brak taking three buses in each direction, every day. Then he moved his family to Beer Yaakov. From then until recently, he gave shiurim to thousands of talmidim.
He had a strict rule to raise money for the yeshiva only between Purim and Pesach, when there were no shiurim in the yeshiva since the time was dedicated to review. One time he was asked to meet with a potential donor who had come to Israel. HaRav Nissim replied, "Chazal say that there is room for two tefillin on one's head, but in my head there is no room for both giving shiurim and collecting money. I learn and give shiurim throughout the year and collect money only from Purim to Pesach."
Recently he was very weak, after his kidneys failed. He recently underwent several catheter treatments for heart problems. During one of them he passed away, at 1 p.m. on Shabbos afternoon, parshas Nosso, 12 Sivan 5772.
The levaya left Beer Yaakov and went to the cemetery in Bnei Brak via the Lederman shul.
He is survived by his wife and his sons, HaRav Yochonon, HaRav Binyamin, HaRav Yishai, and his sons-in-law HaRav Eliahu Elkayam, HaRav Yaakov Ochayon, HaRav Baruch Zvi Lev, HaRav Avraham Ben Zimra, HaRav Yitzchak Wizman, and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.