Atzeres Hesped in Moscow L’illui Nishmas Chacham Ovadiah Yosef zt”l


rav-pinchas-goldschmidt-rav-ovadiah-hespedLast night, an atzeres hesped was held at the Ohaley Yakov Kollel in Moscow, Russia, lezecher nishmas Rav Ovadia Yosef zt”l.

Harav Yitzchack Olivitsky, currently of the European kashrus and previously director of the moatza hadatit kashrus department for decades, had a very close relationship with Rav Ovadia zt”l and spoke first.

Harav Olivitzky spoke about Rav Ovadia’s tireless dedication to elevating the level of kashrus in Eretz Yisroel. There were times when Rav Olivistky would be summoned late at night to Rav Ovadia’s home and be given a mission to be accomplished before morning!

Rav Olivitsky had heard from family members, that one of the reasons why Rav Ovadia gave up his promising career in Egypt, was that he felt that the kehilla was not wiling to make strides in upgrading their adherence to kashrus.

He also spoke about the fact that as times and circumstances changed, Rav Ovaida zt”l was not scared to tell people, “my psak of years ago no longer applies..” Rav Olivitsky personally witnessed this happening in matters of kashrus where due to technological advances and readily available solutions, Rav Ovadia zt”l reversed previous Kulos and instructed his followers to be machmir.

Rav Olivistky also mentioned the famous psakim supporting “land for peace”. When Rav Ovadia realized that peace was not achieved, and yidden were being murdered r”l despite land concessions, he publicly retracted that psak.

More than anything though, Rav Olivitsky said that the image which remains with him is sitting across from Rav Ovadia Zt’l presenting a question and Rav Ovadia immediately delving into the sugya bringing numerous sefarim (minimum 10) and explaining clearly the rational for his psak. At the end of the day, regardless of his communal responsibilities, he remained more than anything a masmid batorah.

Afterwards the Mara d’asra Rav Pinchas Goldschmidt spoke.

Rav Goldschmidt spoke about his personal experience as a young talmid Yeshivas Ner Yisroel, Baltimore. Rav Ovadia zt”l had just finished giving a fascinating in depth halachick shiur that only the most brilliant talmidim were able to follow, and then he spoke to the rest of the gathered crowd and immediately switched into a language which was understood by the hamon am.

Rav Goldschmidt said that as the years went on, he notices that Rav Ovadia zt”l was able to do this time and time again. This is middah which is found by gedolei olam such as Rav Shach zt”l and the great Chofetz Chaim zt”l who despite their greatness and genius in Torah were able to find a common language with all of klal yisroel.

Later when Rav Goldschmidt was already a Rav in Moscow, he would frequently send difficult questions to Rav Ovadia zt”l.

What was always exceptional about Rav Ovadia’s psakim was how he was able to completely ignore any emotional feelings one way or another and approach the topic at hand with a pure penetrating Daas Torah which was based only on clear Halacha. Although this approach was not always accepted by other poskim, Rav Ovadia consistently employed it even when solving politically charged questions, such as reciting Hallel on yom ha’atzmaut, or making a Bat Mitzvah party. To Rav Ovadia the only thing that mattered was what does thousands of years of gemara, rishonim and achronim say about this, as opposed to what the current political atmosphere or personal feelings towards it.

Rav Goldschmidt then spoke about the tremendous achrayos that Rav Ovadia took upon himself when paskening over 1000 cases of agunos.

Rav Goldshmidt had personally dealt with an especially difficult case in Moscow, where the husband had disappeared without a trace and the only proof were the remains of a cremation r”l and the testimony of local Moscow police. Rav Goldschmidt ultimately sent the question to Rav Ovadia who was able to be mattir the woman.

“Imagine” said Rav Goldschmidt, “if one out of the thousand men had turned out to have been alive, Rav Ovadia would have inadvertently ruined the lives of all involved as well as his reputation forever!” Only someone who was such a godol can be sure of the siyata dishmaya that he would never err in such thorny cases.

{Gavriel Newscenter}