Chacham Ovadia Yosef זצ”ל Never Went To Meron On Lag Baomer, And Was Pained By The Mass Pilgrimage There – (מפי בנו, הרב דוד יוסף שליט”א)

It is not just staunch Ashkenazim, proud of their great heritage, that refrain from going to Meron on Lag Baomer, and oppose participation in the activities there. Rav Elyashiv, zt”l, who never went there in his life (at any time of the year), did not stand alone in never taking part in the event. Okay, you might think, I understand, Rav Elyashiv had talmidim…but others, from other chugim, different backgrounds, with the same practice?

Yes! And where you may not have thought.

Chacham Ovadia Yosef, the recently niftar Sepharadic Torah giant, also never went to Meron on Lag Baomer, not even once, in his ninety three plus year life!

That was one of the things recently revealed by his son, לבחל”ח, Rav David Yosef, in a strong address about problematic aspects of Lag Baomer festivities.

In the recording attached to the linked article (worth checking out), Rav Yosef states, in strong and colorful language, among other things, that 1) his father, Chacham Ovadia, even in his youth, when he studied at Yeshiva Porat Yosef, on an occasion when the Yeshiva was in dire straits and a trip to kivrei tzadikim in the north of Eretz Yisroel was arranged for the benefit of the Yeshiva, declined to participate in it, insisting instead on staying where he was and learning Torah, 2) Rav David Yosef himself refused entreaties to go to Meron on Lag Baomer, even via special, exclusive  helicopter transit, and, as his father, has never been there on that day, 3) he went through the chumash hundreds of times and has never seen the ‘מצות עשה’ to make ‘aliyah liregel’ to Meron then, 4) שומר נפשו, someone who guards his soul, should be careful about such things, 5) אין לך ביטול תורה גדול מזה.

We see here a great example of the common practice and outlook of paramount gedolim, at the pinnacle of Torah leadership in our time. Both Sepharadic and Ashkenazic recognized the problematic aspects of the Meron pilgrimage and stayed away.

ומהם ילמדו וכן יעשו, אכי”ר

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2 Responses to “Chacham Ovadia Yosef זצ”ל Never Went To Meron On Lag Baomer, And Was Pained By The Mass Pilgrimage There – (מפי בנו, הרב דוד יוסף שליט”א)”

  1. Reuven Brauner Says:

    Meron and Uman are simply “happenings”, spiritual Woodstocks, if you will.

    People are looking for carnivals and circuses, and these sorts of events give it to them. Face it, they’re fun, and have even been given the Hechsher of rabbis and kabbalists. People get a high from these events and it drives them further into the Ruchnius that they lack or cannot achieve from normative Yiddishkeit.

    Most people don’t get turned on by learning a blatt Gemara, although those who do will tell you there is nothing like it, nor by doing a ‘simple’ Mitzva like giving Tzedaka or doing an act of Chessed.

    So, they need fireworks, large and noisy crowds, and ‘something different’ to turn them on.

    It is a sad, but real, substitute in the absence of a Beis Hamikdosh.

    • Treasures of Ashkenaz Says:

      I agree that there is more to Yiddishkeit than sitting in front of a gemara – there is midrash and Tanach too, for example ;-), and various mitzvos and maasim tovim. Singing and dancing too at times. :) A great diversity of mitzvoh possibilities and experiences are out there, beyond just learning gemara, of course. But there is still a need to try to steer away from alternatives that are not up to par.

      Legitimate alternatives, sure, questionable ones, be wary.

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