Suppose I come up with a question in class. I ask the teacher, Rabbi Ousel. And suppose it is not one of my usual dumb questions: suppose it is good enough that Rabbi Ousel, who is an accomplished scholar, does not know the answer. He will take it to his teacher, Rabbi Illit.
And suppose (it never happened -- it'd have to be a real pickle, but suppose) Rabbi Illit cannot work out an answer. He will take it to his teacher. And so on up the line.
There is an end of the line. When no one else feels knowledgeable enough to take responsibility for giving an answer, there was -- until yesterday -- one person living who could take that responsibility.
That is Rav Elyashiv.
And he has just left us.
Rav Chalkowski's Eulogy for Rav Elyashiv
I never met Rav Elyashiv, but several of my teachers did.
To give you some idea of the schedule of the man responsible for untangling the knottiest problems of the Jewish people... my friend's husband, Mr. A., merited a regular appointment to learn from Rav Elyashiv. He was given a short slot of time: the time it took Rav Elyashiv to climb the stairs to his apartment. Mr. A. would walk up the stairs backwards ahead of Rav Elyashiv, asking questions.
My husband's rosh yeshiva said once that Rav Elyashiv might be the only living person who would have qualified to sit on the Sanhedrin.
This is a sad loss for us.