I was recently watching some video footage from a multi-part series that was aired in ארץ ישראל on one of the great gedolim of our time, הרה”ג חכם רב עובדיה יוסף שליט”א.
The series in general was quite interesting, but one thing, relevant to the subject matter focused on here, especially caught my attention, in one of the segments.
It is when his daughter says, regarding her father, as follows: אתה יודע מה? פעם אבא התבטא והוא אמר שהאשכנזים יודעים יותר טוב מהספרדים להעריך מה זה תלמיד חכם. Which the accompanying English rendering gives as “You know what? One time my father stated that the Ashkenazi people know better than the Sephardic how to appreciate a wise student”. Now it is clear that they erred by translating תלמיד חכם as ‘wise student’. It should rather be Torah scholar, or something similar. But however you translate the statement exactly, you still have the great Sepharadic Gaon and champion of the ספרדי mesorah and heritage paying a fine compliment to his Ashkenazic Jewish brethren. Very nice and interesting.
The segment can be seen here starting at 5:28
I wonder what the context of the remark was, by the way.
It reminds me of Rav Yosef Karo, the בית יוסף, and מחבר of the שולחן ערוך, bringing the famous תשובה of the רא”ש, where he says that the Ashkenazic mesorah is superior to that of ספרד, without taking issue with it (טור יו”ד סוף סימן פ”ב). Rav Ovadia is a big advocate of the authority of Rav Yosef Karo, who he calls מרן. And here, he is also doing a similar thing, by praising the Ashkenazim. It is also in the tradition of words of praise by the Rambam, Ramban, and other Sepharadic gedolim over the years, for the great Ashkenazic Torah heritage.
אשרי העם שככה לו, אשרי העם שה’ אלקיו
א גוטען שבת