Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabb Yitzchok Yosef paid a special visit to Yeshiva Ohr Elchonon Chabad in Los Angeles, California, on Thursday 5 Kislev.
He was warmly greeted by Rabbi Shlomo Cunin, Head Shliach of the West Coast and Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Ezra Schochet.
There was a profound historical connection to this visit as some 40 years ago, when Rabbi Yosef’s father, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef OBM was the Rishon LeTziyon, he also visited this same Yeshiva.
Rabbi Yosef began his visit by addressing the hundreds of bochurim assembled in the main Zal. He spoke about the importance of learning Nigleh and Chassidus and how they can become effective Shluchim by being b’nei Torah.
His words were well accepted by the bochurim who were impressed by Rabbi Yosef’s vast knowledge of Torah and specifically of divrei Chassidus.
Following the shiur to the Yeshiva bochurim, Rabbi Yosef met exclusively with Rabbi Cunin and local Los Angeles Shluchim in a separate smaller Zal at the Yeshiva.
Rabbi Yosef recounted his youth where he studied from great Chabad Chassidim such as Rabbi Sholom Yosef Zevin and especially the great Posek of this past generation, Rabbi Chaim Naeh.
The Rishon LeTziyon recalled how Rabbi Naeh, who although he was an Ashkenazi, accepted a post as Rov for a Sephardic community. Amongst his many incredible qualities Rabbi Yosef stated, he recounted how Rabbi Naeh, as a result of his encyclopedic knowledge of Halacha, was able to give the appropriate Halachik answers to both Ashkenazik and Sephardic Jews.
Rabbi Yosef also related that a while back, when excavators discovered a Mikvah right outside the Kotel walls, he asked that measurements be taken of the discovery. To his amazement, he found that the newly discovered Mikvah, used during the Bayis Sheini, was built to the precise specifications and measurements outlined by Rabbi Naeh – and unlike the measurements of some other well-known Poskim.
Rabbi Yosef then implored the Shluchim to be very careful in regards to Geirus and to refer all potential Geirim to the Rabbanut of Israel or to recognized Botei Din who deal with Geirus but not to make Geirim themselves.
Rabbi Cunin emphatically supported the Chief Rabbi’s words and stated that he had clear instructions from the Rebbe which forbade Shluchim from making Geirim.
Rabbi Cunin reiterated that this is the strict policy of West Coast Chabad-Lubavitch that Shluchim do not make Geirim under any circumstances.