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Tuesday, October 22, 2013 

What Ovadia Yosef's legacy was really like

As told through a Jerusalem Post correspondent:
Your appraisal of Ovadia Yosef (“Rabbi Yosef’s legacy,” Editorial, October 8) was unbalanced.

In democracies, the politicization of religion and establishment of narrow sectoral (and even sectarian parties) are retrogressive phenomena.

Yosef was guilty of both and of greatly strengthening them.

In the process he legitimized the divisive politics of race without any clear political aims. He led a movement that caused huge damage to his own people by denying generations of Sephardi children the blessings of modern, progressive education, and thus damaged Israel as a whole while Shas became a symbol of corruption.

The filthy language Yosef employed against opponents and enemies could never have emanated from the mouths of great scholars of the past, to whom he falsely has been compared
. He had a photographic memory, but no true wisdom or humility.

Let us be balanced and realistic about his legacy.
Amen to that. And here's another one that everyone should ponder:
The late, great and revered former Sephardi chief rabbi Ovadia Yosef committed at least one monstrous gaffe in publicly proclaiming that the victims of the Holocaust were reincarnations of people who had sinned during their supposed previous lifetimes.

Such an attitude should not be tolerated or ignored in the Jewish State of Israel.
I would also add that his words were a horrific violation of the old biblical text that says, "life and death are in the hands of the tongue" (Proverbs 18:21). He violated those beliefs, just as even many of his own followers did, all the while acting as though being Haredi means never having to say they're sorry. That was a most abominable thing to say, and no matter how old he was at the time he'd blurted it out, he should have known better.

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I cannot say that I always agreed about with Rabbi Yosef said or did. But even so, when you look at the big picture, any negative things, which were always highlighted by a hostile media, are dwarfed by 11 volumes of Yabi'a Omer, myriads of Torah lessons, the pride that he gave to so many Jews and acts of lovingkindess that nobody knows about.

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