Rabbi Ovadia Yossef

Rav Obadia Yossef (4)

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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.

Mikhail ChapiroBorn in 1938 in Belorussia, he was captivated by painting since his early childhood. Thanks to his teachers, Peter Chernyshevsky and Boris Zvenigorodsky, the artists of great experience and talent, this endowment became his predilection, the raison d’être of his life. After 6 years of studies, he graduated from the Mukhina Institute of Arts and Industrial Design. He worked as a stylist for 7 years in the capital of Siberia, city of Novosibirsk.

He moved to Moscow in 1974 and since 1977 till 1987 he regularly exhibited in the Russia’s famous underground avant-garde centre at Malaya Gruzinskaya 28, which in 1981 became the home of his solo exhibition. Only with Perestroyka he was widely recognized in Russia. From 1988 to 1990 his paintings were exhibited at the Muscovite Modern Art Gallery MARS.

He was recognized by the intellectual elite. Great Russian ballerina Maya Plesetskaya, 3-times Olympic Champion in figure ice-skating Irina Rodnina, Nobel Prize Laureates Academicians Sakharov, Frank, Prokhorov – those are just few of the most prominent people who knew Chapiro and whose portraits he did.

In 1990 Mikhail Chapiro immigrated to Canada. He settled in Toronto and immediately joined the city’s artistic life. The “Hittite Gallery” held his solo exhibition in 1992. In 1993, he moved to Montreal, being fascinated by the singular charm of this metropolis and its people. Being highly productive, Chapiro has constantly enriched his collection with fresh subjects. In 1996 he had a solo exhibition at the Elgar community center in Verdun (a Montreal district).

While Chapiro’s themes always remained portraits, landscapes, cityscapes, animals, and flowers, his style has gradually evolved from a merely realistic formalist expression towards an unique painting technique allowing to express at best the softness and subtlety that forms the bottom line of the artist’s philosophy. Mikhail Chapiro is, by his substance, perception of the world, and even training, is a figurative, objective, realistic painter. What characterizes his painting is softness, subtlety, implicitly.

However, in some works from different periods, he had come close- and still does so today- to abstraction: mostly with his nudes and flowers, sometimes in portraiture and landscapes. Abstract painting has always fascinated him: during his Moscovite period in the Eighties, he created series of abstract compositions, which he continued once in Canada, in both Toronto and Montreal.

The rationale behind his work, what triggered him is as it has always been, asking the “What?” question-that is, he needs unequivocally an idea fuelling his creativity.
What he tells with one or another abstract work may be philosophical reflections about life, death, the good, the bad, the passage of our soul from the material world (the life on Earth) into the thin world (the soul’s life in the Cosmos); the return of our soul into material world- a sort of an infinite transfiguration-, and so on. It’s only then that he would care about the composition, texture, color, etc.

Abstract painting is for him the most interesting experiment, one of his art’s facets. Whether his paintings are realistic or abstract, his approach is equally sincere.