Friday, February 11, 2011

Channel 10's Documentary on R' Ovadia

I thought yesterday's Channel 10 documentary on R' Ovadia was extremely interesting. Here are some of the issues/facts that stood out during the documentary:

* R' Ovadia's family made aliyah to the Mandate from Iraq. All his brothers were members of the Etzel.

* R' Ovadia's father had his son work in his grocery store every weekday for a few hours. The Rosh Yeshiva of Porat Yosef (where R' Ovadia was learning) came to the store and told his father he'd work those hours every day as his son was extremely gifted and should focus on learning Torah. His father refused.

* R' Ovadia's father changed his tune when the store was robbed a few times and he realized his son wasn't a good 'store keeper.'

* From a young age, R' Ovadia always wanted to be Gadol Ha'Dor.

* He was awared the Israel Prize for literature in 1970.

* After the Yom Kippur War, he presided over all the cases of the agunot when all other Rabbis asked had refused the important task. He spent hours every day with the Army reviewing every case and ensuring each woman was given a status of a widow (and hence, could re-marry if so she choosed). His family say he cried for hours every night during the process.

* His view on Halacha is far less machmir than most realize (Kocha D'hetera Ad)

* He has 11 children.

* The idea of Shas was put in front of him after his great disappointment at being removed (political stunt?) from being the Chief Rabbi of Israel. Shas would not have come to be however if R' Shach had advised R' Ovadia against forming the party. The two fell out when R' Ovadia supported going into Rabin's government in 1992, while R' Shach disapproved.

* Most of the controversial comments in the media come after his weekly shiur on motza"sh (Saturday evening). Shulamit Aloni, one of those insulted, and others condemn the remarks despite acknowledging he at times does it for show. Most of the interviewees that one would assume are 'anti' R' Ovadia all acknowledge the tremendous good he's done to the country but express disappointment & disgust at the negative comments he's made.

* Lastly, is R' Ovadia anti-Zionist? ... "What is anti-Zionist? It is a lie, it is a term which they have concocted themselves. I served for ten years as a Chief Rabbi - a key public position in the State of Israel. In what way are we not Zionists? We pray for Zion, for Jerusalem and its inhabitants, for Israel and the Rabbis and their students. What is Zionist? By our understanding, a Zionist is a person who loves Zion and practices the commandment of settling the land. Whenever I am overseas I encourage Aliyah. In what way are they more Zionist than us?"

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