A Rabbi Who Knows His Religion

From the Christian Science Monitor:

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, in his own words

The far-right Israeli cleric Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has made comments that would be condemned if they came from an Iranian leader.

By Dan Murphy, Staff writer / October 7, 2013

Baz Ratner/Reuters

Ovadia Yosef, an ultra-orthodox Sephardic Israeli rabbi whose popularity among religious Israelis, particularly those whose families came to Israel from the Arab world, led to the creation of the Shas movement and a hard lurch right in Israeli politics, is being praised throughout Israel after his passing today.

Hundreds of thousands of his supporters took the streets of Jerusalem to mourn. Former Israeli President Shimon Peres visited with Mr. Yosef at his hospital bedside just hours before he passed, tenderly kissing his hand and forehead, according to The Jerusalem Post. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a statement issued by his office, spoke of his "profound grief" and said that "the Jewish People have lost one of the wisest men of his generation."

There is no doubt that Yosef is a major figure in Israeli political and social history – he arrived in Israel at the age of four, in the mid-1920s, and the power of the political movement he built is responsible for the public praise he's garnering today. But Yosef's undisguised bigotry and religious political extremism could also prove awkward for politicians like Mr. Netanyahu, who just last week complained that Iranians aren't allowed to wear jeans or listen to Western music by the country's own religious extremists (never mind that neither of his assertions were true).

Netanyahu has been campaigning of late against any rapprochement between the US and Iran, warning that seeming Iranian willingness to negotiate over its nuclear program is a trap and that the Islamic Republic's leaders are fundamentally unstable and untrustworthy.

"They’re governed by Ayatollah Khamenei. He heads a cult. That cult is wild in its ambitions and its aggression,” Netanyahu told NBC last week. In his speech at the UN last month, he complained of the "fanaticism" of Iran's religiously based state.

Yet he and many Israeli leaders embrace and praise Yosef, the Baghdad-born cleric who served as Israel's chief Sephardi rabbi for a decade before focusing on direct political power. His religiously inspired views have given more political power to clerics in Israel, and his ultimate agenda frightened non-Jews.

For instance, in 2010 [html] he said in a weekly Saturday night sermon that the sole purpose God put non-Jews on earth was to be servants to Jews.[/html]

[html] "Goyim (gentiles, non-Jews) were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world – only to serve the People of Israel," he said, according to the Jerusalem Post. "Why are gentiles needed? They will work, they will plow, they will reap. We will sit like an effendi and eat. That is why gentiles were created." An "effendi" is a lord, or a master, in Arabic. [/html]

Yosef also favored the large number of ultra-Orthodox men who eschew modern education, focus only on Torah study, and are exempted from military service in Israel while largely subsisting on government handouts.

[html] It was his comments about non-Jews that were the ugliest. In 2010 he said of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the people he leads that "all these evil people should perish from this world. God should strike them with a plague, them and these Palestinians."[/html]

[html] On Arabs in general, he said in 2001, "It is forbidden to be merciful to them. You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable." In 2009 he said of Muslims "their religion is as ugly as they are." [/html]

That sort of rhetoric, when heard from Arab or Iranian clerics directed towards Israelis or Jews in general is usually (and rightly) harshly condemned by Israeli leaders like Netanyahu as beyond the pale.

[html] Yosef also had regressive views on the role of women and gays in society. In 2007, angry that many Ashkenazi rabbis supported allowing women to say a blessing over Shabbat candles after they'd been lit, he said: "Women should make (stew) and not deal with matters of the Torah." He said that anyone disagree with him was the fault of "a few stupid women. A woman's knowledge is only in sewing."[/html]

[html] As for gays and lesbians, he said they were "completely evil."[/html]

To be sure, it's not just in Israel where Yosef was popular. Bill de Blasio, the democrat who's the current front-runner to be mayor of New York, had this to say about the departed rabbi today:

Quote: "Millions of people around the world lost a leader today in Rabbi Chacham Ovadia Yosef. His wisdom, charity and sensitivity were legendary."


From the Times of Israel:

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef buried in largest funeral in Israeli history

800,000 attend last procession for revered leader of Sephardi Jewry; 300 require medical treatment — but no serious injuries… and one birth; worried police chief had feared disaster as crowds swelled; public figures send condolences, recall a giant of Jewish thought

By Gavriel Fiske October 7, 2013, 5:15 pm Updated: October 7, 2013, 9:21 pm 25

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the powerful, much-loved and sometimes controversial spiritual leader of Israel’s Sephardi community, passed away in Jerusalem early Monday afternoon after being hospitalized repeatedly over the last several weeks. He was 93. Ovadia was laid to rest Monday night in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sanhedria, with some 800,000 mourners converging from all over the country to attend what became the largest funeral in Israeli history. Despite the huge crowds, far beyond the numbers police had anticipated, there were no reports of serious injuries. Read The Times of Israel’s coverage of an unprecedentedly vast public outpouring of respect and grief.

The Jerusalem municipality says that a large force of police officers, border police, traffic police and volunteers has been mustered to oversee security at Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s funeral.

The funeral is slated to begin at 6 p.m. at the Porat Yosef Yeshiva in the Geula neighborhood and the mourners will proceed on foot to the Sanhedria cemetery. The streets around the cemetery will be closed to car and bus traffic and the police have instructed the public not to arrive in private vehicles to the site.

The following roads will be closed: Shmuel Hanavi, Eshkol, Golda Meir, Bar Ilan, Yirmiyahu, Malchei Yisrael and Yehezkel.

Egged has arranged for public buses to leave from the parking lot of the International Convention Center, near the Central Bus Station, to a parking area in Sanhedria near the proceedings.

The city opened a special hotline for public queries concerning street closures, transportation and parking: 1-700-553-100.

US ambassador: ‘May his memory be blessed’

“Rav Ovadia Yosef was a spiritual leader to hundreds of thousands, if not more, a great learner [of Torah] and a wise and learned man, a father to an impressive family and an important contributor to the society and politics of the state of Israel,” US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro says in a statement released in Hebrew.

“Today in Jerusalem and all across Israel, his supporters and followers mourn him,” he added. “To them, and first and foremost to his beloved family, I send my condolences. May his memory be blessed.”

Police worried about buildings collapsing from crowds

A police official was just on Channel 2, explaining that authorities are concerned that, due to the extremely heavy crowds expected to arrive for the funeral, some of the buildings in the neighborhood may collapse from the weight.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to arrive, he said, and many are already crowding the rooftops of old buildings in the area around Sanhedria.

Channel 2 is broadcasting a feed from the area outside the Porat Yosef yeshiva, which is absolutely packed with mourners, many of whom are pushing against the border policemen assigned to crowd control duty.

Jewish Agency chair Sharansky says, ‘Entire Jewish communities returned to Israel thanks to Rav Ovadia’s rulings’

Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky (photo credit: Oren Fixler/Flash90)

“Rabbi Ovadia Yosef was one of the greatest rabbinic authorities who built the nation of Israel in the Land of Israel,” Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky says in a statement.

“Entire Jewish communities returned to Israel thanks to Rav Ovadia’s rulings,” Sharansky noted, adding that Yosef’s “rulings on conversion reflected first and foremost the importance of building the nation in an era of the in-gathering of exiles. May his memory be a blessing.”

Biggest ever?

A Channel 2 reporter is speculating that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s funeral will prove to be the largest funeral procession ever seen in Israel. TV footage showed an unconscious man being carried out through the tightly packed crowd.

Yosef was ‘impressive and incredibly intelligent,’ provided ‘unique leadership’ — Defense Minister Ya’alon

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef was an “impressive and incredibly intelligent” man who was very involved in what was happening in Israel and beyond, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon says, adding that Yosef was “a great Torah and law scholar” who was “careful to listen to different opinions before formulating his position, and did that with great openness and patience.”

“The rabbi displayed at meetings a true concern for Israel, [and] the security and strength of Israeli society in all its forms,” Ya’alon notes. Yosef was “extremely pragmatic” and provided a “unique leadership derived from his wisdom, greatness in Torah and his involvement in various parts of society.”

Funeral procession to begin shortly; some 300,000 estimated to be attending

The funeral procession for Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is about to begin. Mourners are to accompany the body from the Porat Yosef yeshiva in Geula to the Sanhedria cemetary, through streets closed to vehicles by security forces.

Some 300,000 people are estimated to be in attendance, according to a Maariv report.

Entrance to Jerusalem reportedly blocked by praying mourners

Channel 2 reports that “tens of thousands” of mourners are on their way to Jerusalem to attend the funeral, but have temporarily blocked the entrance to the city as, with dusk approaching, they stopped their vehicles en masse in order to recite their afternoon prayers.

Yosef ‘solved problems no one else could solve using his wisdom and spirituality’ — President Peres

“A few hours ago I went to the hospital to say goodbye to my teacher, my rabbi, my friend Rabbi Ovadia Yosef,” President Shimon Peres relates in an official statement. “It was a difficult time. Tears filled my eyes and my throat was choked with emotion. I held his hand which was still warm and kissed his forehead. When I pressed his hand I felt I was touching history and when I kissed his head it was as though I kissed the very greatness of Israel,” he added.

“Immediately after the fall of the Second Temple there were two greats of the Torah — Yohanan ben Zakai and Yehuda Hanasi,” Peres continues, adding, “I mention them because they came to the conclusion that for the Jewish people to survive we need to study. Rabbi Yosef symbolized that and acted upon it. He was simply a great man. His greatness wasn’t measured but rather it was felt as a spiritual wind in every corner, lighting up the darkness in unexpected places. When I met him I sensed he was a great man with an unbelievable memory and the wisdom to share his knowledge with others. His contribution was his love for Israel and he solved problems no one else could solve using his wisdom and spirituality.”

Peres, who had known Yosef for decades, was among the last to visit the rabbi’s hospital bed earlier in the day, before his passing.

Police warn of ‘real danger of loss of life’ from huge crowds, estimate 400,000 in attendance

Police now estimate there are some 400,000 mourners in attendance, with more arriving every minute. Police Commander Yohanon Danino, in a televised interview, pleads with further mourners to stay away, and warns that “the funeral could end in a tragedy” because of the vast crowds.

Police crowd control reinforcements are themselves stuck in the crowd, he adds. “We see masses converging on the yeshiva from where the funeral procession is set to leave… Our request, our demand, for the sake of the rabbi’s honor, we must do everything we can to avoid loss of life.”

“We see huge crowds crowding the rooftops, some of them hanging from antennas… we are doing what we can to bring them down,” he adds.

“There is real danger of loss of life,” Danino says, but “we have to let the procession pass as it must. Our central role is to look out for the hundreds of thousands who have arrived… and ensure they return to their homes in peace.”

Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s son, delivers emotional address

Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, Ovadia Yosef’s son, who just a few months ago was elected to the post of Sephardi chief rabbi, a position once held by his father, is delivering an emotional address to the assembled crowds.

“My father, my father,” he cries repeatedly, comparing Yosef’s death to the destruction of the Second Temple. “We must continue on his path,” he adds. “The world of yesterday won’t be tomorrow. There was no one like hi, and there won’t anyone like him in the future,” he added.

Procession to cemetery begins

A large black van has emerged from the Porat Yosef yeshiva compound, carrying the body of Ovadia Yosef. The vehicle is completely surrounded by the crowd, who keep trying to get close to the body despite Border Police attempts to keep them away, television images show.

The van is only able to advance very slowly and carefully.

Over 40 people already have received first aid

United Hatzalah, the emergency medical response organization operating at the funeral, reports that over 40 people have already received first aid. The group says it has dispatched some 350 medical professionals, 9 ambulances and 150 first aid motorcycles to the area and has set up a field clinic to treat injuries.


Vox Wrote:There's more at that page.

Soooo'- why is everybody messing with the Catholic Church again ?
(10-11-2013, 04:40 PM)tucherb Wrote: Soooo'- why is everybody messing with the Catholic Church again ?

I know. The hypocrisy, and the protectionism showed toward other groups as contrasted with the venom with which Catholicism is treated -- are truly astounding.


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