Baruch Dayan Ha’emes.
It is with great sadness that LNN reports about the Petirah of Rav Shalom Cohen Zt” l, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Porat Yosef, and Nasi of the Shas party’s Moetzet Chachmei Hatorah. He was 91.
Recently Rav Cohen was hospitalized several times due to extreme weakness and treatments required for a medical condition. Two weeks ago, he was hospitalized for a severe infection in his leg. His condition deteriorated over Shabbos after it worsened on Friday, and he was moved to the intensive care unit at Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center. On Sunday, a name, Chaim, was added as a zechus for his refuah and passed away that evening, the 25 Av 5782.
Rav Cohen was born on October 27, 1931, one of eight children of Rav Efraim Hakohen, a noted Sephardi mekubal, in Yerushalayim. His father had been a disciple of the Ben Ish Chai in Baghdad before immigrating to Eretz Yisroel in 1924. In 1931, the year of Rav Shalom’s birth, his father was appointed rosh yeshiva of Yeshivat Porat Yosef in the Old City of Yerushalayim. He was also the head of the Yeshiva of Mekubalim Oz Vehadar.
Rav Shalom was named after the famous mekubal Rabbi Shalom Sharabi (Rashash). In his youth, he studied under Rabbi Ezra Attiya, the great Rosh yeshiva of Porat Yosef, who groomed an entire generation of Sephardic Gedolim, including Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Rabbi Bentzion Abba Shaul, and many others. Rav Shalom began studying at Yeshivat Porat Yosef at the age of 13 and developed a reputation as a masmid and a brilliant ben Torah.
He married his wife, Rabbanit Yael, daughter of Rav Mansour Ben Shimon, a mekubal from Tzefas who also taught at Porat Yosef. Rav Shalom and Rabbanit Yair had eight children.
Rav Cohen began delivering shiurim at Porat Yosef after his wedding, established a new yeshiva branch in the Katamon neighborhood of Jerusalem, and taught thousands of talmidim over many decades. After 1967 he found the branch of Porat Yosef in the Old City, which as opposed to the Geula branch, did not adopt the Lithuanian style of study, preferring to focus on the Sephardic method of study.
For several years he also served as a Sofer Stam and, at a young age, wrote a Sefer Torah, which he used to read the Parsha every week.
Rabbi Cohen was very close to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef Zt’l. A few months before his passing, Rabbi Ovadia said that Rabbi Cohen is teaching Torah day and night to the Jewish nation. “He has a holy mouth which is singularly involved in Torah study; whoever hears him is hearing the voice of Torah,” Rabbi Ovadia added.
Rabbi Cohen also has a special relationship with Rabbi Shach and used to refer to him for questions on public matters.
In 1984, he agreed to Rav Ovadia Yosef’s request to serve on the then-new Moetzet Chachmei HaTorah of Shas. In April 2014, six months after Chacham Ovadiah’s petirah, Rav Shalom succeeded him as nasi of the Moetzet.
Rav Shalom was a tremendous talmid chochom who had a grasp of kol haTorah with unique recall. He was highly respected across all circles. His petirah leaves a gaping void in the Olam HaTorah and the Sephardic Torah world in particular.
The levayah was today, Monday, at 2 p.m. at Yeshivas Porat Yosef in Geulah, followed by kevurah in the Sanhedriah Bais Hachaim next to his wife. A bittul melacha was announced for the time of the levaya.
At the levaya, HaRav Shmuel Betzalel, one of the Roshei Yeshivos of Porat Yosef, announced that HaGaon HaRav Shimon Cohen, the son of HaChacham Cohen, z’tl, will serve as Rosh Yeshivah in his father’s place.
Those who delivered hespedim included HaGaon HaRav Shlomo Amar, HaGaon HaRav Reuven Elbaz, HaGaon HaRav Yitzchak Yosef, HaGaon HaRav Shimon Badani, HaRav Cohen’s brothers-in-law HaGaon HaRav Massoud Ben-Shimon and HaGaon HaRav Nissim Ben-Shimon, HaGaon HaRav Yehudah Cohen, Rosh Yeshivas Yikirei Yerushalayim and a mechutan of HaRav Cohen, z’tl, HaGaon HaRav Dovid Yosef, HaGaon HaRav Dovid Lau, Shas chairman Aryeh Deri, and the Rosh Yeshivah’s son, HaRav Yaakov, the Rosh Yeshivah of Nezer HaTalmud in Beitar Illit.
Buses full of passengers from throughout Eretz Yisrael arrived in Yerushaliem for the levaya.
Hundreds of Yerushaliem District police officers are securing the levaya.
He is survived by family members, including his sons Rabbi Efrayim Cohen, who teaches at Yakirei Yerushalayim, Rabbi Yaakov Cohen, Rosh Yeshiva of Nezer Hatalmud, and Rabbi Shimon Cohen, the new Rosh Yeshiva, as well as many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.