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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8 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.

  2. הצעיר ירמיהו (@hatsair) Says:

    So when the ARI haKadosh was going to Meron to talk to Rashbi, to request of Bar Yo`haï to entreat for us, told us to do so, when generations of Mekubalim went up to Meron for performing yi`hudim, when still today Mekhawnim like HaRav Benayahu Shmueli sets a tent there to read the Zohar, teach Torat ha`Hen …
    all of it is/was done by ignorami who should have bowed to the example of dry revealed Torah, all set by sevara and not divrey Neviut, welcoming the Ta Shm`a and rejecting the Ta `Haze…?
    What did the Rea`h HaTov (the Ben Ish `Haï) find there? Why did his lips utter the words “waamartem koh le`haï Ribbi Shim`on Bar Yo`haï” as he prostrated himself on the kever? All in vain, bitoul Torah? Shtut?

    • Treasures of Ashkenaz Says:

      שלום!

      You can ask Rav Yosef those questions. :)

      I will share some of my thoughts though, as well.

      1) There are different shitos among גדולי ישראל, different מהלכים.

      2) I don’t see how the ‘revealed Torah’ can be described as ‘dry’.

      !הס מלומר! חס ושלום

      עץ חיים היא למחזיקים בה! Is an עץ חיים, a tree of life, dry?

      3) The post above was focused on going to Meron on Lag Baomer, when the situation there is more difficult. Some of those who oppose going there on Lag Baomer would not take the same position at other times, when the matzav there is better.

  3. הצעיר ירמיהו (@hatsair) Says:

    Alas, Rav Yosef already expressed his opinion on such matters… with statements like “מה כל החרדה הזאת להניח ד’ כל הפוסקים וכללי הדינים מפני סברות האריז”ל”. Our Hakhamim understood well that nothing can surpass the understanding of the ARI, that is what the `Hida expressed when declaring the principle אין משיבין אחר האר”י. However, the Shas movement chose a radically different way, playing the game of “we need to bring back the crown of Torah to Sephardic Jewry”, when in fact we never lost it. This is quasi revisionism when you consider the Torah of the SaDeH, the Kaf Ha`Hayim, the Rav Eliyahoo Mani, the Rav Salman Eliyahoo, the Ben Ish `Haï… Yes there are different shitot among the Rabbanim, however among Oriental Jews, there was only one shita and Shas sowed the division by creating an illusion in phase with what is prevalent in the Ashkenazi world. As the Hakham Fetaya taught us, there is no Ba`al Torah if there isn’t limoud of Torat haSod. That is what was meant by “dry revealed Torah”, that which rejects Hokhmat Nisstar. Torah should englobe its fulness. I cannot imagine that the Ets `Hayim is going to be found on the side of those who cling to Torat haNigleh while excluding Torat haSod. No, your post did not solely consider the matter of Meron on Lag Baomer, it mentioned clearly and proudly the refusal of well-known Rabbanim to go up to Rashbi at various times. In particular the Rav David Yosef recalls a story where his father refused to go to Kivrei Tsadikim for a week’s time, independently of Lag LaOmer. This is a bigger story,a sad story.

  4. Treasures of Ashkenaz Says:

    How can you say that “among Oriental Jews, there was only one shita”?

    Even an Ashkenazic Jew like myself knows that there are many differences, different minhagim, nuschaos, etc. among Sepharadim and Bnei Edos hamizrach.

    Chacham Ovadiah was a gadol shebigedolim, he accomplished so much. He was also a lion, an Ari…He followed Maran, Rav Yosef Karo, zt”l, mechaber of Shulchan Aruch. Rav Yosef Karo was not Ashkenazic. :)

    • הצעיר ירמיהו (@hatsair) Says:

      Among Bnei Edot HaMizra`h, there was one major shita, the one of the Reish Galouta, haBen Ish `Haï. HaRav Ovadyah Yosef championed the existence of a different shita. It never went smoothly. The opposition wasn’t from liberals, it was from his own camp, those who faithfully adhered to the views of our `Hakhamim. Today, everyone turns a blind eye to this reality. Yes HaGaon HaRav Ovadyah Yosef ע”ה accomplished tremendous things, yet the ideology he established does not correspond to the principles of the Torah of the giants who preceded him. Even Maran Yosef Karo was a mekubal. Pushing away the role of kabbalah in halakhah is a major trait which is discordant with the Torah of Sephardic Poskim for the last 200 years.

  5. Treasures of Ashkenaz Says:

    “Even Maran Yosef Karo was a mekubal.”

    And his psak is the one that Chacham Ovadia championed. :)

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