Rabbi Ovadia Yosef z”l
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef z”l, former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, was a world renowned Talmudic scholar and authority on Jewish law. He was the spiritual leader of the Shas Party in the Israeli Knesset. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef lived in the Jerusalem neighborhood ofHarNof. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef had eleven children and numerous grand and great grandchildren with his wife the RabbaniteMargaliteYossef z”l.
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef was born in Baghdad, Iraq on September 23, 1920. In 1924 he immigrated to Jerusalem with his family.
As a teenager he studied at the Porat Yosef Yeshiva, where he advanced to the highest class taught by the Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Ezra Attiya (1885-1970) one of the greatest 20th century teachers of Torah in the Sephardic Jewish world.
In 1947, Rabbi AharonChoueka, the founder of yeshiva AhavahVeAchvah in Cairo invited Rabbi Ovadia Yosef to teach in his yeshiva. At the same time Rabbi Yosef also served, at the request of Rabbi Ben-Zion Meir HaiUziel, as head of the Cairo rabbinical court and also as the deputy Chief Rabbi of Egypt. After several years in Egypt, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef returned to Israel to study in the midrash “Bnei Zion” headed by Rabbi Tzvi Pesach Frank. He also served on the rabbinical court in Petah Tikva where he began to receive great acclaim due to his knowledge of Halachah. Between 1958 and 1965 Rabbi Yosef served as a rabbinical judge in the Jerusalem district Beth 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 in 1973, replacing Rabbi Yitzchak Nissim.
In 1951, he published his book on the laws of Pesach titled Chazon Ovadia. The book won much praise and received the approval of many Gedolim. In 1953, he founded Yeshiva Or HaTorah for gifted Sephardic Yeshiva students. This Yeshiva was the first of many which he established to facilitate Torah education for Sephardic Jews. In 1953 and 1955 he published the first two volumes of his classic work Yabia Omer. In 1970, by which time 5 volumes had been published, Rabbi Yosef was awarded the Israel Prize for Torah literature for this work. His responsa are noted for citing almost every source extant regarding a specific topic. Among Rabbi Yosef’s earliest works was a detailed commentary on the Ben Ish Chai titled HalichotOlam. He was asked to finish the commentary KafHa’Chaim by Rabbi Yaakov Chaim Sofer after the author’s death. There is also another series of books under the title of Chazon Ovadia regarding the laws concerning Sabbath, holidays and other topics.
Rabbi Yosef has printed a commentary on the Mishnah tractate PirkeiAvos (Ethics of the Fathers) under the title, AnafEtzAvot, and Maor Israel, a commentary on various parts of the Talmud. His son, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, has published a widely-read codification of Rabbi Yosef’s rulings entitled Yalkut Yosef. Another son, Rabbi David Yosef, has printed various siddurim and liturgy according to Rabbi Yosef’s rulings, and another halachic compendium entitled Halachah Berurah.
His halachicsefarim and decisions have gained circulation beyond compare. Rabbi Yosef was indisputably a one of a kind Torah phenomenon in our times. Rabbi OvadiaYossef passed away in October 2013 where thousands and thousands of peopleattented his funeral. May his memory be a blessing to all.