It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Rav Yehuda Edery zt”l, a talmid of the Rav Chaim Shmuel Lopian in England and Rav Aharon Kotler in Lakewood.
Rabbi Edery was born on 11 Iyar 1936 in the international protectorate of Tangiers, and left the comfort of his home in Tangiers as barely a bar mitzvah boy in 1950, to Sunderland Yeshiva in Northern England, with no expectation of ever returning to see his parents. In fact, he only saw his fahter once before he was niftar in 1966.
Rabbi Edery left to a country, knowing he didn’t speak the language, or understand the mentality of the people, but what blinded him to those facts was knowing that he would be learning torah. That is all he needed to know. From 1950-1956 he endured the bitter cold of Northern England, the sparce food of post-war England, and the disadvantage of not knowing the language. It didn’t matter. All that mattered was his learning.
In 1956, after he wrote a letter with a shtikel Torah to Rav Aharon, and receiving an invitation from Rav Aharon to join the Yeshiva, he traveled to the US to learn under the great Rav Aharon Kotler, where he remained until 1962, when ‘the Rosh Yeshiva’ as he would always call him, was niftar. His hasmodoh there was legendary. 60 years after he left lakewood, people still talk of his great hasmodoh.
Rav elya ber vachtfogel, the rosh yeshiva of south fallsburgh, told his nephew Michael Edery of Lawrence NY, in the presence of his father, the mashgiach ztl, that Rav Yehuda and Rav Avrohom Edery were the two biggest masmidim in the whole yeshiva. They would eat quickly, and run back to the beis medrash to learn. rav nosson nodded his head in agreement. years later, when Michael Edery met rav elya ber at a chasunah, he repeated the same thing.
Just a few shorts weeks ago, Rav yerucham olshin, told Michael Edery ‘your uncle was very chashuv! Very, very chashuv!’ A person told Michael Edery that ‘i remember your father and your uncle from Lakewood, they would learn until 1am, then you would hear them talk in learning in Spanish, until 3am.
Rav Shlomo Miller, the Rosh kollel of kollel avreichim in Toronto said At the funeral which took place in Toronto this past Thursday, that he thinks they were the two biggest masmidim in the whole Yeshiva . Rabbi Firer, the Rosh kollel of the bobover kollel In Toronto said, that he would regularly go to speak in learning with my Rav Edery.
Towards the end of his life, when Rabbi Edery said that his mind can no longer think clearly, he expressed to him his displeasure in further living. If I cannot learn I have no purpose to live.
When Michael Edery met rav malkiel kotler, the lakweood rosh yeshiva for the first time, he asked Edery his name. Edery’s response illicited that ‘your uncle was my rebbi! ‘ Indeed, Rav Aharon Kotler sent Rabbi Edery, then still a bachur, to Boston to give shiur in the newly founded Lakewood Yeshiva branch, under the leadership of Rabbi Leib Heilman. when rav aharon asked him if he liked the yeshiva, he told him no, because there were no tables only shtenders. rav aharon insured that a table was delivered to him timely. rav dovid shustal, the lakewood rsoh yeshiva told Michael Edery, that the table remained a fixture in the building until the construction of the new one.
His devotion to the Moroccan Jewish community of Toronto was epic. Having recently emigrated to Toronto, he felt it was his duty to put them all into frum schools, which with him being only 27 years old, was a daunting task, especially given the negative sentiment towards new emigres. he revolutionized the entire city, until he successfully placed hundreds of children into the local frum schools. he took it upon himself to singlehandedly run the maot hiitin for the morrocans, going from stall-to-stall in the local market asking for donations. he personally delivered them, often times climbing many flights of stairs carrying fruits vegetables, grape juice, and all that is needed for pesach. once, a woman complained that she did not get potatoes, so he returned to her government housing apartment to deliver the potatoes, only to find out that the elevator wasn’t working. Thus he climbed the 17 flights of stairs carrying potatoes…. when his shul started to unravel, he was offered, in 1980, the enormous sum of $800,000 to sell it to a mosque, but at his mothers suggestion, who told him, i did not raise sons to build mosques, he didn’t. times were very bitter, and money was scarce, and he could have used it. but he didn’t compromise his values for the Almighty dollar.
Following the untimely petira of his brother avrohom, he accepted upon himself to finish shas every year, learning seventh Blatt a day. he spent his retirement learning torah the whole day. he learned bavli many many times, then moved over to yerushalmi. He was so happy when he found a rav tanchum edery in a yerushalmi in shabbos. His life can best be summarized by what the Sephardic chief Rabbi of the province of Ontario Canada, rabbi assayag, said athis brother levayah, there is not a Moroccan jew in Canada that doesn’t owe his life to the edery bothers True to his life’s dedication of constant Torah learning, in the last two hours of his life after having said viduy, nishmas, elokai nishamah, etc, his nephew Rabbi Dovid Bennet and Rav Benzion Jakubowicz , both of Toronto, sang Rav Aharon’s niggun, lulei torascha, until the yetsias neshomo. It was the way he lived, and the way he was niftar.
Rabbi Edery was buried on Friday afternoon in Eretz Yisrael, in the Eretz Hachaim cemetery, near his brother Rav Avrohom. Tehe nishamto tzerrura bitsror hachaim.
Yehi zichro baruch.