Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Open pages on a Closed Book

Yair Wasserman & Shimon Breitkopf

For decades, Rav Ovadiah meticulously documented even the most seemingly mundane events of his day, alongside the bigger political and theological questions that chased and surrounded him. From political earthquakes to the minutiae of life, the until-now secret diaries provide a fascinating look into the challenges of the illui-turned-leader of Sephardic Jewry. While most of these diaries will never be revealed, Mishpacha was given a rare opportunity to examine some of those fraying pages.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Anyone who has ever been to the home of Rav Ovadiah Yosef ztz”l surely remembers the image: the Rav sitting in his tall chair, his eyeglasses propped up on his wrinkled forehead, surrounded by piles of open seforim with marginal annotations. The pen in his hand is racing rapidly across the paper, forming line after line in his famously neat handwriting.

This is how he wrote dozens of seforim, along with tens of thousands of halachic decisions, letters, and approbations. Every day, for hours upon hours, Rav Ovadiah sat and wrote, learned and wrote, thought and wrote. He was 13 years old when he opened that first special notebook to record the poems he learned from his friend Shaul Aboud in Yeshivat Porat Yosef, and to describe how he felt the first day he put on tefillin. From then until the end of his life, his pen was his constant companion.

Even as he grew older and even when there were two devoted writers constantly at his side recording his words on their laptop computers, Rav Ovadiah’s pen didn’t rest. Some things even a state-of-the-art computer can’t replace: his pen was a tool for the exhaustive, all-encompassing documentation of every aspect of his life.

Rav Ovadiah’s pen now lies orphaned, next to his chair, his rabbinic garb, and his dark glasses. Yet his legacy lives on, not only in the many seforim he wrote and the teshuvos he rendered, but in the thousands of handwritten pages of his life’s personal documentary. From the excitement of his bar mitzvah day to the decisions he made that shaped the course of history, Rav Ovadiah documented every single thing that happened to him with the same meticulousness and thoroughness that characterized everything else he did. Some of it will eventually be published, while the rest will remain hidden for many years to come.

 

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
The Fortunes of War
Rabbi Moshe Grylak We’re still feeling the fallout of the First World War
Some Lessons, But Few Portents
Yonoson Rosenblum What the midterms tell us about 2020
Vote of Confidence
Eyan Kobre Why I tuned in to the liberal radio station
5 out of 10
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Top 5 Moments of the Kinus
Day in the Life
Rachel Bachrach Chaim White of KC Kosher Co-op
When Less is More
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman How a good edit enhances a manuscript
It’s My Job
Jacob L. Freedman “Will you force me to take meds?”
They’re Still Playing My Song?
Riki Goldstein Yitzy Bald’s Yerav Na
Yisroel Werdyger Can’t Stop Singing
Riki Goldstein Ahrele Samet’s Loi Luni
Double Chords of Hope
Riki Goldstein You never know how far your music can go
Will Dedi Have the Last Laugh?
Dovid N. Golding Dedi and Ding go way back
Battle of the Budge
Faigy Peritzman Using stubbornness to grow in ruchniyus
The Challenging Child
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Strategies for raising the difficult child
Bucking the Trend
Sara Eisemann If I skip sem, will I get a good shidduch?
The Musician: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer "If she can't read she'll be handicapped for life!"