Maran HaRav Ovadia Yosef-Yom Hillula-26October2014

On the Yom Hillula of Maran HaRav Ovadia Yosef; HaRav Shlomo Amar, HaRav Shalom Arush and Rav Yitzchak Kakka: Shamash of HaRav Ovadia Yosef spoke and remembered how wonderful he was. (September 24, 1920 – October 7, 2013)

No words can describe the massive wound to the Jewish People, with the loss of this generation’s greatest rabbi, our mentor and spiritual father, affectionately known as “Maran” (title given to the great of the generation) Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, of saintly and blessed memory. Maran was the Sephardic Chief Rabbi (Rishon Letzion) of Israel from 1973-1983, a monumental Talmudic scholar with a prodigious memory, and the undisputed foremost halachic authority of our time. Even more, he loved every Jew and devoted his life to spreading Torah to every single person, personally traveling around the country to teach people and bring them closer to Torah. He was the author of dozens of books and the spiritual leader of the Shas Movement and the El-HaMaayan Youth Movement.

The oldest son of Yaacov and Georgia ob”m, Rav Ovadia zatza”l was born the day after Yom Kippur on September 23, 1920. At the age of 4, his family moved to Israel. His father barely eked as a greengrocer, while the lad Ovadia, already recognized as brilliant by the age of 9, learned in Talmud Torah “Bnei Tzion” in the Bucharian neighborhood of Jerusalem. Then, he recited four chapters of Gemara tractate Bava Metzia by heart to Rabbi Amram Blau. At age 12, he became the student and protege of Rabbi Ezra Attia, head of the Porath Yosef Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

At age 17, Rav Ovadia was already teaching. At age 20, he married Margalit, the daughter of Rabbi Avraham Fatal, a leading Torah scholar. Margalit, a woman of valor famous for her deeds of kindness and charity, left this world in 1994. She and Rav Ovadia hads 11 children, all of whom are Talmudic scholars or married to scholars. Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, ob”m, head of Hazon Yaakov Yeshiva, and a noted scholar who also taught in our Yeshiva, passed away earlier this year.

Rav Yitzchak Yosef shlit’a was recently elected Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel.

Rav Ovadia’s daughter Adina Bar Shalom, is the head of a prominent college for hareidi women.

The same year he was married, in 1940, Rav Ovadia earned the highest rabbinical ordination, yadin yadin, enabling him to serve as a rabbinical court judge at the tender age of 20.

In 1947, Rabbi Yosef was asked by Sephardi Chief Rabbi Ben-Zion Meir Hai Uziel to serve as head of the Cairo Beit Din (rabbinical court). He suffered in Egypt, for the Jewish community was at a very low spiritual state. Three years later, after an arduous and dangerous journey that lasted for months, he returned to Israel.

 

 

After returning to Israel, Rabbi Yosef studied at Bet Midrash “Bnei Zion”, headed by renowned sage and Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem for decades, Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank. At the same time, Rav Ovadia was a Dayan (judge) serving on the rabbinical court in Petah Tikva. During this period, he became friendly with many of the Torah giants of Jerusalem such as Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and Rabbi Yisrael Yaacov Fisher.
During the 1950’s and 1960’s, Rav Ovadia served as a dayan in the Jerusalem district Beit Din. He was then appointed to the Supreme Rabbinical Court of Appeals in Jerusalem, eventually becoming the Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Tel Aviv in 1968, a position which he held until his election as Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel (Rishon Letzion) in 1973 along with the late Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren.

 

Rav Ovadia was one of the greatest outreach rabbis who ever walked the face of the earth. His organization El HaMaayan spread Torah among tens of thousands of Sephardi youth. His remarkable outreach program, Lehachzir Atara Leyoshna (literally, restore the crown to its former glory) advanced Sephardic communities world over and brought hundreds of thousands to observant Jewry. The Shas party’s school system in Israel, founded with his blessing and direction, provided transportation and hot meals, attracting young families in development towns and needy areas, who were greeted with affection and whose children learned to love Torah and tradition.

Rav Ovadia’s love for the Jewish people had no limits. He showered those who came to him with blessings. He endorsed all of Rav Shalom Arush’s writings and gave a warm endorsement to my Hebrew commentary on Torah, Pi HaBe’er.

 
Rav Ovadia was hospitalized recently and a major deterioration in his condition occurred over the last few days, although a short remission led to quickly dashed hopes for recovery. Hundreds of thousands worldwide prayed for him during the last few hours of his holy life.

Rav Shalom Arush shlit’a has instructed all his students to rend their garment as is customary when one’s parent dies. Rav Ovadia was truly our father. May his sacred memory intervene in our behalf, amen!

 

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