Thursday, September 11, 2014

Chizzuk For Elul

I'm sure y'all have heard the phrase "live every day as if it's your last."
It's one of those played out, overly quoted lines that basically means live life to the fullest.
Now while "the fullest" can be defined in many different ways, according to Judaism, it means make the most out of your potential by doing as many mitzvot as possible and being as close to HaShem as possible.
Afterall, do we really know which day is our last day? We all hope to live until 80, 90, 120...
But who really knows? I'm sure everyone, unfortunately, can think of somebody who tragically died unexpectedly at a young age, in a weird incident, etc. (lo aleinu)

So I'd like to share with you a very moving email that shook my neshama and screamed "It's Elul! Do Teshuva!" It is from halachayomit.co.il, which is a fantastic website that distributes daily Sephardic halacha to thousands of Jews around the world.

May we all be zochim to do full teshuva during this holy month of Elul and have a wonderful & productive year of 5775 (in Hebrew: Tash'aah. Tav - the last letter of the Hebrew Alphebet. And Shaa'ah means hour. So "last hour"...this year is hopefully the year of the geula. It's our last chance for teshuva, so yalla! :))


The First Lebanon War broke out in the year 5742 (1982). On Erev Rosh Hashanah of that year, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l delivered a powerful and uplifting speech which seems ever so appropriate for us after just having experienced a difficult period of time, i.e. Operation Protective Edge in which our soldiers battled courageously against terrorist elements in the Gaza Strip who brazenly threatened the lives of millions of Israeli citizens. Unfortunately, the Jewish nation sustained priceless losses of human life. Similarly, the Jewish people, especially the residents of Southern Israel and many innocent children, were made to live in terror fearing the worst and the unexpected at any moment. It is therefore an opportune time to share the words of Maran zt”l (with some additional insights) with our readers in order to infuse them with the strength and support necessary for the upcoming year.
“Many tragedies have befallen us this past year, especially regarding the First Lebanon War, a war resulting in much bloodshed in which over six hundred IDF forces were killed, among them many G-d-fearing individuals especially the forty Hesder Yeshiva students. This is besides the multitude of injured soldiers, many of whom will remain handicapped for the rest of their lives, some without hands, feet, or eyesight. All this is in addition to the many people killed in fatal car accidents throughout the course of the year, for not a day passes without a deadly car crash.
If we stop to think about this, all of these horrific incidents were decreed to befall us on Yom Kippur. If only we would be aware of the harsh Heavenly decrees hovering above our heads, we would certainly storm the gates of Heaven in prayer in order for the King of all kings to nullify these decrees and save us from our enemies.
Would all the individuals who are no longer with us have known that this would befall them this year, we can only imagine how much they would have awakened themselves to repent fully on Yom Kippur and to shed copious tears in order to nullify this harsh decree. Certainly, not only would they have acted accordingly, for the families of these individuals would likewise not rest until they succeeded in nullifying the harsh decree against their loved ones if they would only know what lay in store for them. However, Hashem’s secrets are not revealed to us.
Fortunate is the man who takes all of this into consideration ahead of Yom Kippur, for one who repents beforehand is forgiven. One should think that he is also numbered among those for whom this year will be their last and then pray, confess, and beg Hashem to grant us all a good and sweet new year.
Picture the following: One wakes up in the morning feeling healthy, invigorated, and full of smiles. The individual says goodbye to his family (not realizing that this will be his final farewell), gets in his car, and drives off to work contently in Tel Aviv or Haifa. Sometime along his journey, at a busy intersection, a truck speeds out of control, crosses the divider into the opposite lanes, and smashes head on with this individual’s car killing him instantly. Did this person realize that this would be his end? If he would have known that this was to be his end, he certainly would not even have left the doorway of his home and he would have locked the door with seven locks. However, this human being with eyes of flesh brought himself to his own death, as the Gemara (Sukkah 53a) states that one’s own feet carry one to his place of death.
On the other hand, if one has more of an intellectual outlook, one will understand and realize that we are all in harm’s way and the world is erupting all around us. Who knows what the next day will bring? We do not only do we require Heavenly mercy from a security standpoint; one requires Heavenly mercy and assistance in every aspect of life, including meriting to bring children into the world, raising and educating them, one’s livelihood, health, peace, tranquility, and the list goes on and on. Every individual must know that everything is in Hashem’s hands and what will befall a person throughout the course of the year is being decreed during these days. Any decree has the ability to be changed from one extreme to the other during this time through repentance, prayer, and charity. After the Days of Awe, this task becomes infinitely more difficult.
Fortunate is the individual who focuses on this idea and capitalizes on these awesome days by repenting fully, for Hashem shall accept and heal him.” (See Ma’or Yisrael-Derashot, page 4)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Banim Atem L'HaShem

Many people can relate to the concept of having an all loving Father in Heaven.

I did (and do), but my belief that HaShem is my loving Father Who only wants the best for me has been significantly strengthened since I became a mother BH.

There're so many different instances when one of my kids is crying cause he just doesn't understand what's going on. He thinks I'm hurting him but really I'm helping him. For example, vaccines. No parent likes taking their child to the doctor in order to get a shot. But this shot, however painful it may be, is preventing way more painful and dangerous diseases. So this preventive measure needs to be taken (and btw, according to Rav Elyashiv z"l and many other Rabbanim, it is a mitzvah and chiyuv to vaccinate your children).
So my baby cries when that sharp needle goes into her soft, delicate little leg. It hurts me so much, and I just wish I could take the pain for her. But I can't. This is what needs to be done. It's for her own good. But I can't explain it to her. I mean, I can. But she wouldn't understand. When she's older BH, I'll be able to explain it to her. But for now - an explanation wouldn't do any good.

That's how it is with HaShem. He's our parent Who loves us so much. But we need to sometimes go through pain, yisurim, difficulties, in order to prevent a bigger problem later on. It is HaShem saving us and doing something for our own good, but we just don't understand. We don't see how this could be for our benefit if it hurts so much. An explanation wouldn't be able to justify the pain because we are too "young" and not capable of understanding. Perhaps when we're older (hindsight is often 20/20, right?) but not at this moment.

Every time I take one of my kids to receive a shot/vaccination, I remind myself of this.

And I've seen this happen to me so many times. BH I have been zocha to see how many yisurim I went through were for my benefit, making me stronger & wiser and often saved me from ruining my life.
For example, back when I was in shidduchim (as anyone who followed my blog from the beginning knows), I suffered immensely from the first ever close relationship that I was in. I was dating someone who, for years, I hoped to be married to. I allowed myself to be vulnerable and completely trusted him, thinking that he would definitely be my husband. Well, after he suddenly & unexpectedly ended it, I was just miserable. I felt as if someone cut open my bleeding heart and threw it on the floor in front of me. There were many days where I couldn't stop crying. Why wasn't I good enough?
I felt as if I would never find better. And in fact, the more I dated, the more I realized how nobody "measured up" to him. Was I doomed forever? Would I ever find somebody with whom I'll have such an emotional and close relationship?
I can't even begin to put it in words how wrong I was to be sad after he broke up with me. Other than becoming frum, up until that point, it was the biggest bracha HaShem ever blessed me with. If I would've been married to him, my life would've been miserable. I will not go into detail because one day he, or a relative, may find this blog, and it would make them feel bad. But I know HaShem saved me because I fully believe, with 100% honesty, that I would have never, ever been happy with that man.
My husband, baruch HaShem, is better than any person I could've ever dreamed of. I am so thankful to HaShem that I had to go through those years of painful shidduchim to find my other half and best friend. It was all worth it.

I am not blogging about this in order brag. I am sharing this to show everyone that although we may be suffering and going through such nisyonot, it really is for THE GOOD, and if we just hang in there, daven, and work on ourselves, things will really start looking up. Keep your head up and have emuna! Gam Zu L'tova is not just a phrase. It's not just a played out, nice sounding concept. It is absolute emet, and one must believe with his whole heart and neshama that HaShem loves every single Jew, and there is not one speck of cruelty in HaShem. He does everything for us out of love and care, hoping for us to be close to Him and make the right choices to lead wonderful and meaningful lives.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Plea to an OTD friend

Dear friend,

I spoke to you just 2 months ago. You told me how life is just so difficult, and you just want to be married already. I tried to give you chizzuk and told you not to worry. You'll find that special guy. You'll have righteous children.
But I didn't try my best. I wasn't listening to you. I didn't feel your pain strongly enough. I didn't understand the severity of your misery.

And now, 2 months later, you are no longer frum. Shabbat is Saturday. Food no longer needs a hechsher. Activities and hobbies are no longer shiurim and chessed events, but rather bars, clubs, and parties. You've traded your kiki rikkis for arms and collarbones, and your skirts for pants.

You feel that everyone from your previously frum life is judging you. I'm trying not judge you. I'm sure many people have already tried to guilt trip you. To convince you. To make you feel terrible about this choice.
But I don't want to guilt trip you. Nor do I want you to feel terrible. Nor will I explain to you how your averot have consequences and can lead to you not having a share in olam haba.
If you want to give up your olam haba, that is an unfortunate choice, but it is your choice. It is a sacrifice you would like to make in order to (try) to have pleasure in this world.

But my dear, dear friend. Forget olam haba for a minute.
WILL YOU HAVE OLAM HAZEH?

If you're searching for happiness, do you think you'll find it at the club? If you're searching for a kind, caring, loving husband who will make you the only woman in his life & only have eyes for you and no other female, do you think you'll find him at the local bar? If you're aiming to raise righteous, well-behaved, pure children, do you think that behavior will be learned from TV, ipads, and unfiltered internet?
But most of all, how will you have happiness if you don't have HaShem? Having a close relationship with HaShem is the most fantastic feeling in the world. Feeling HaShem's presence and hashgacha in your daily life is the strongest form of joy. If the only reason we're on planet earth is to feel close to HaShem and have a relationship with him, what will be your reason for living? What will be your meaning in life? What will be your direction?

Do you only want to realize the answer to all of these questions when you're 50, when your marriage is failing, your physical beauty is diminishing, and your children are totally secular? What will you do then? Won't you regret that you allowed the best years to slip through your fingers? Won't you despise having an empty life, void of meaning, of destination, of faith?

My precious friend, many people may have given up on you.
But HaShem has not given up on you. You have a holy neshama, and your neshama will always feel misplaced in a body, in a home, that is not serving its' purpose in life.

It is never too late to do teshuva. But there are times when it can be more painful to do teshuva, with many more regrets. Regrets that could have been prevented.

Be wise. Don't wait until the "never too late" point in life.

I pray that you will be on the right derech and realize that running away won't solve any of your problems.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Don't Let Life Pass You By

I hate facebook.
For many, many reasons. That's probably a topic for a different blog post, though.
But the main reason I hate it is for it's fakeness.
So many people are miserable and yet trying to prove to the world (aka all of their facebook "friends") that life is just awesome and perfect. See my carribean hotel with the pool in front? (never mind that I was bored most of the time and got into a fight with my friend that night) See my night out with my super handsome hubby? (never mind that he was drunk the whole night)

I couldn't bear a day with facebook because I would be saddened. Saddened by how many people just allow life to pass by. Hours and hours to be wasted.

When the Torah wants to wish somebody a long life, the bracha is "arichut YAMIM" and not "arichut SHANIM". Why's that? Why wish a person many days instead of many years?
Because a Jew needs to make each DAY count. Not every year. Each day needs to be as fulfilling as possible. A person needs to aim to reach his inner core and most deep potential every single day. We need to strive to grow closer to HaShem with each and every moment and day that we live and breathe.
The answer is so powerful. And so scary. Because it means that there are so many people who live long lives and many years but haven't really lived a day in their life.

Why does HaShem bless us that we're able to wake up in the morning and have the ability to breathe, see, speak, taste, smell, hear, and understand?
So that we will use these G-d blessed "instincts" for avodat HaShem. Not for anything else. Just for closeness to HaKadosh Baruch Hu.

Now, all of this sounds nice in theory. But practically, it is very, very difficult.
And I think it's difficult because the yetzer hara knows how to get our priorities mixed up.
For example, I'm a work at home wife & mother to 2 kids (yes I gave birth to a second holy beautiful neshama BH!) I have friends who are at the "same point" in life - either stay at home moms with 1+ kids or they work outside and send their kids to daycare, but either way, many of my friends complain how rote their day is, and how meaningless and boring they're finding married life w/ kids to be. I hear things along the lines of "wow. Life is so mundane. I wake up, need to change diapers, feed the kids, drop them off at daycare or take care of them throughout the day, come home, do laundry, cook dinner, and sleep. I have no time for shiurim. I have no time to open a sefer. I'm just always tired!"
Suddenly, marriage isn't such a dream anymore. There are no lavish vacations. Eating out often may not be an option. Finances are tough. The scale's number are getting higher and clothes don't fit as right. (That's part of the joy of motherhood! :))
It's easy for a woman to feel worn out from all of this.
But NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ladies, if a woman feel that way, her priorities are OFF!
The Arizal teaches us that women come into this world perfect. We are here to take care of our husbands & encourage their limud Torah and to raise tzadikim and tzadikot children who will light up the world.
THAT'S IT!! (okay, we also need to do avodat hamiddot, keep mitzvoth, and be modest...)
But that is our ikkar.
Sounds like fluff? It's not.
Chazal teach us in Gemara Brachot 17a - "nashim b'mayi zachyan" -- what mitzvah does a woman do that earns her olam haba? (Afterall, a man's ikkar is limud Torah. But we don't get a mitzvah for learning Torah, so how can we merit olam haba??)
The answer is through sending our husbands to learn Torah and our children to learn Torah.
Because what else are we living for, if not Torah? Why live life, if not to be close to HaShem and earn our place in olam haba to be the closest we possibly can be to Him?

And anything we do for our husbands and children is a mitzvah. So yes, doing laundry, cooking, changing diapers (Rav Meir Eliyahu quotes a big Rav -- I forgot who -- who said that every time a woman changes her child's diaper, it's k'ilu she put on tefillin. Not joking!), singing songs to your toddler who wants to hear the same thing over and over and over again...
all of that is a mitzvah.

This doesn't only apply to married women.
This also applies to single women. I have a single friend who has told me she is making a lot of money per hour and has all this money and has no clue what to do with it. She goes on vacations. She buys nice clothing. Now what??
SUPPORT LIMUD TORAH! Give tzdaka. BH you're able to give more than 10%. (I hope she's reading this because I didn't tell her this when we spoke on the phone. I love you btw.)
The Gemara tells us that supporting Torah is one of a woman's main missions in this world. A single woman should support Torah (by giving to a kollel, a needy avrech family, a shul, etc.) as much as she can. There is no limit to this.

Find meaning in the most "mundane" of daily life. Say a l'shem yichud before doing these things.
"I'm cooking a kosher healthy meal so that my husband will have koach for his Avodat HaShem"
"I'm getting dressed this morning because I am a bat Melech, and it is a priviledge and honor to be a tznua"
"I'm eating so that I'll have koach and energy to pray to HaShem"
"I'm exercising so that I'll be healthy and be able to continue doing mitzvoth without any health distractions"
"I'm working so that I'll have money to buy food for Shabbat kodesh, to clothe my wife and kids, to pay rent for our home which is a mikdash me'at, etc."
etc. etc. etc.
The list is endless.
And this will also help you stay away from the bad things that waste time, and therefore, waste life and meaningful days. For ex, there's no l'shem yichud before watching a movie. Sorry. There isn't.
TV doesn't energize anybody. It kills brain cells and inhibits a person's potential. It imbues shtuyot in our subconscious minds, and these shtuyot don't aid anyone's avodat HaShem.
(perhaps I'll write a radical post or have my husband be a guest writer for why Disney truly isn't so clean and actually damages a person's outlook towards dating, marriage, and more.)

May we all be zochim to make each and every day count. May we each reach our true potential and may we all always feel close to HaKadosh Baruch Hu!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Chanukah: the Ongoing Battle

There are so many nice themes of Chanukah: light, miracles, emunah, fight for what you believe - even if you're standing alone or are few in number.
Then there are the themes that many people don't like to hear about: yavan, assimilation, materialism, war/death, Jewish infighting.

For me, Chanukah, while being such a beautiful and holy holiday, has a slight ring of sadness to it every year. Why? Because the battle with the yavanim is still going on today.
The Maccabim fought against the Jewish Hellenists. That is, the assimilated Jews. Not just the Greeks.
They defeated the Greeks. But not the Jewish Hellenists, who were Jews that, while they maintained some of their Jewishness, just wanted to be modern Jews accepted by the goyim. We'll keep chagim to a certain extent. But we'll dress Greek, have Greek names, and do Greek activities (like the Olympics).
Sounds familiar?
Yep.

The Greeks valued Chitzonyut. Gashmiut. Outer appearance. Materialism.
The Jews valued morality, Torah learning, modesty, and being separated from anything that did not fit into those three categories.

We are SO fortunate in our generation that we are not persecuted for being Jewish. We have more freedom than ever in history to be as observant as we want without non-Jewish restrictions.
And yet. We have the highest rate of assimilation in this generation.

Chanukah begs every Jew to question: whose side would I be on if the Maccabees went to war today. Would I be on the Maccabees side? Or the Jewish Hellenists side?

May HaShem bless all of us to be on the right path, and may all of our actions be l'Shem Shamayim.
May the light of Chanukah touch every Jew's neshama & inspire all of us to grow closer to HaShem Yitbarach.
Chanukah Sameach :)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

King & Father, There is No Other.

I know it seems that I'm not here, but I am. Just been very busy with life. Thank G-d. It's good to be busy.

I feel like I have an ongoing blog in my head 24/7. Like, Sefardi Gal's thoughts and comments. I can't seem to ever press the pause or "shhhh" button.
I so often want to (actually) blog and then I get lazy or tired or remember that I have laundry to do :)
Or that I need to make some awesome baked ziti for dinner (yeah, it came out really good tonight!) & whole wheat oatmeal low sugar chocolate cookies (not as good. Why do the fattening cookies always taste better?!)

All of those are not valid excuses, but oh well. Patience is a virtue.

I received this awesome e-mail from Aish.com's "Shabbat Shalom Weekly" emails. I thought to post it since it served as great chizuk for me:

5 Steps to Genuine Prayer:
1) Feel God's presence. You are talking to a loving, all-powerful Being Who wants to give you everything that's good. All over the world God is answering prayers because He loves His children.
2) Expect results. God has a track record. If you don't really believe God can and will help you, you're not really praying.
3) Pay attention to what God is teaching you. Everything that happens is for your good. If you are in need, realize God is teaching you something. If you trust Him, you will hear what He is telling you.
4) Get in touch with what you're really after. Know your bottom line. You're talking to the awesome Creator, so don't ask for nonsense. He wants you to grow up.
5) Being serious about what you're praying for means that you're doing everything you can to make it happen. God will lend a hand only when you put in the effort. He'll never take away your independence because that's His ultimate gift to you.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

We Miss You, Rabbeinu


I write this post with a sad and heavy heart. The passing of HaRav Hagaon Chacham Ovadia Yosef, zecher tzadik l'bracha, is a pain and loss that I can only compare to a person losing both parents in one day, lo aleinu. Although the loss is far, far greater than that.
The world feels like a colder, emptier place.
There's a sadness that lingers in the air here.


Upon reading the news, just minutes after Rav Ovadia's neshama left this olam, I started crying. Just minutes ago, we were reading Tehillim & tikun haklali, praying for the Rav's recovery and checking on his progress on theyeshivaworld.com
My husband had just finished reciting birkat hamazon, and seeing me cry, realized what had happened. We bought cried uncontrollably, and my husband tore kriya.
There was nothing to say. No words of comfort.
And on that note, we headed to the levaya in Jerusalem.

The amount of hakarat hatov, love, and respect that my husband and I have for HaRav Ovadia can not be put into words. Words wouldn't do the emotions justice. All I can say is that it is thanks to HaShem blessing our generation with Rav Ovadia that I am religious. That my husband is religious. And that our children will be religious BH. Without his sefarim & piskei halachot, I have no idea where I'd be today.
His shiurim, genius psakim/sefarim/halachot are what guide me daily, and without HaRav Ovadia, I would be lost.


I now understand Rashi's comments that Aharon HaCohen's sons were like Moshe Rabbeinu's sons, since Moshe was their teacher.
And what a teacher. Wow.

Here's a line from a very moving story that brought me to tears just now. Rav Ovadia told his wife, Rabbanit Margalit Yosef z"l, "give me olam hazeh, and I'll give you olam haba."
That "line" convinced her to marry him.
What olam haba they must have. What a marriage full of kdusha they must've have.

I copy this eulogy (taken from halachayomit.co.il) with tearful eyes & a broken heart. May the zchut of Maran protect us all, and may all of Am Yisrael be on the right path of Torah u'mitzvot:

In the year 5762, with the passing of “the true genius, crown glory of Israel, the great light of the Kingdom of the Talmud and Poskim, the light of Israel, the right pillar, the mighty hammer, an individual unique to the generation, Hagaon Harav Chaim Kreiswirth zt”l” (an excerpt from Maran’s very own eulogy for the Rav), Chief Rabbi of Antwerp, Belgium, Maran Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l was thrown into great mourning. Maran zt”l was a dear friend of this great sage and Maran would constantly say that the world did not really know who Hagaon Harav Chaim zt”l really was. According to Maran’s words, this was a Torah personality that could not be matched.
When Maran zt”l rose to eulogize this giant of Torah, he began by asking, what is this tumult all about? Our Sages tell us (Kiddushin 72b) that “a righteous individual does not depart from this world until another man as righteous as him is created, as the verse states, ‘The sun rises and the sun sets’-before the sun of Moshe set, the sun of Yehoshua rose. Before the sun of Yehoshua set, the sun of Otniel ben Kenaz rose. Before the sun of Eli set, the sun of Shmuel Ha’Navi rose.” This should be our comfort, for another person as righteous as the deceased has surely been born. If so, why do we mourn the loss of the great rabbi so much?
Maran zt”l explained in the name of the commentators that even so, not necessarily will the righteous man just created be as great in Torah as the deceased righteous man, as the Gemara (Baba Batra 75a) states regarding Yehoshua, “the elders of that generation would say, ‘The face of Moshe shined like the sun and the face of Yehoshua shined like the moon.’” This is because the generations become progressively weaker as time goes on and the leader is relative to the generation.

Likewise, we mourn today along with Zion and the nation of Israel, for Hashem has sent us a great redeemer, Maran zt”l, who saved Sephardic Jewry from destruction and raised the glory of Halacha when it was almost completely forgotten from the Jewish nation. This man was the pillar of Torah, kindness, and prayer. He was the leader of the generation in so many ways: In his humility, in his holiness, in his discourses, in his halachic rulings, and in his understanding. Now, we have lost Maran zt”l and as downtrodden as we are, we have no choice but to gather together the remaining Torah sages of our generation and only together will they be able to continue the tradition which Maran pioneered on his own.Many times when speaking with Maran zt”l, we were able to catch a glimpse of his greatness in Kabbalah, which was truly far more advanced than any of the greatest Mekubalim in our generation who have not reached Maran’s level, just as no Torah scholars have reached his level of Torah knowledge in the revealed portion of the Torah.
Besides for Maran’s greatness in Torah, he would perform loving-kindness with all his heart. Maran’s right-hand man, our dear friend Rabbi Tzvi Hakak, recounts that many times, serious questions in Halacha were sent to Maran regarding Agunot (women whose husbands have gone missing and are “tied down” to their husbands and are forbidden to remarry) and children born from forbidden unions (who are prohibited from marrying regular members of the Jewish nation) and Maran told him to place these questions on the desk in his bedroom. At 2:00 AM, Maran zt”l would go to sleep. When Rabbi Hakak would arrive at Maran’s home at 6:00 AM, Maran would already be sitting and learning and would tell him to send the response to the relevant parties immediately, even before morning prayers. Everyone would be flabbergasted, when did Maran find the time to write this lengthy and tedious response?! He only went to sleep four hours before…
We cannot possibly adequately eulogize Maran zt”l, for every single one of his character traits can fill volumes. His tremendous greatness was unfathomable, so much so that two of the greatest Mekubalim of the previous generation, Hagaon Harav Yisrael Abuchatzera zt”l (the “Baba Sali”) and Hagaon Harav Mordechai Sharabi zt”l, attested that Maran’s soul was kept from the times of the Geonim (period preceding that of the Rishonim) and Hashem told Maran’s soul, “Wait until your time comes. During a generation when heresy will spread all over the world, it will be your time to save Israel.”
Indeed, it is almost non-existent for a child of six or seven years old to decide to dedicate his life to Torah study. However, when Maran zt”l was all but a young lad, he would sit and learn Torah, Prophets, and Scriptures for hours on end. By the age of ten, Maran had already written unbelieveable novel Torah thoughts (see the biography on Maran, “Abir Ha’Ro’im,” for some incredible pictures of Maran’s handwritten Torah essays when he was a child). At the age of fourteen, he had already mastered the entire Talmud. At the age of twenty-five, he was already greater in Torah knowledge than any Torah scholars living among us today. Maran was a supernatural genius in Torah. Who can replace him?
When contemplateing all of Maran’s accomplishments, we are reminded of Rabbi Chiya about whom the Gemara (Ketubot 103b): “Rabbi Chiya said: I prevented Torah from being forgotten from the Jewish nation, for I planted flax seeds and from the flax that grew, I wove nets and trapped deer. I fed the meat to hungry orphans and I processed the hides to produce parchment and on that parchment I wrote the five books of the Torah and the six orders of the Mishnah. About me did Rabbi Yehuda Ha’Nassi exclaim, ‘How great are the actions of Chiya!’”

Similarly, we exclaim, “How great are the actions of Rabbeinu Ovadia!” With all of his greatness and genius in Torah, he would be able to stand before laymen and speak to them in a language they understood and enjoyed through parables and anecdotes. He would speak about the deepest segments of the Talmud with the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Hagaon Harav Tzvi Pesach Frank zt”l and then hurry off to deliver a Torah lecture to simpletons. He was unable to open a Sephardic Yeshiva because there were no Sephardic Yeshiva boys to learn in it. However, he did not give up; he was relentless. He began by teaching regular working men Torah daily until their children grew up; he troubled himself to place their boys into Talmudei Torah and Yeshivot and girls into Bet Yaakovs. He likewise taught the children Torah himself until many of them flourished into outstanding Torah scholars. In this way, an entire generation that was doomed to straying from Hashem’s path became completely G-d-fearing and Torah observant. Maran indeed “built up Jerusalem with mercy,” for all Sephardic Torah scholars and many Ashkenazi sages who are involved in rendering halachic rulings are all in Maran’s merit. Praiseworthy is the generation which had the merit of being led by Maran.
The entire Jewish nation felt a great void upon Maran zt”l’s passing and the reason for this could very well be because Maran’s soul was tantamount to that of Moshe Rabbeinu whose soul was comprised of all of the souls of the Jewish nation. Thus, anyone with a soul within him felt a great lacking with the passing of Maran zt”l.



May Hashem have mercy on us, the remaining ember of the Jewish nation, and not let us be like a flock of sheep without a Shepherd. May Maran act as a righteous defending angel on our behalf, let him not leave us or forsake us. May his blessings to the entire nation of Israel, whom he loved deeply like a father loves his child and whom he comforted like a mother comforts her child, come to fruition, for indeed, Maran was dedicated to the collective needs of the entire nation with every fiber of his being. May Hashem finally redeem us eternally and may we soon merit witnessing the Resurrection of the Dead at which point Maran zt”l will lead us and teach us once again, Amen.