Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Legacy of Rav Mordechai Eliahu zt"l

A little more than a month has passed by since the passing of the great former Sefardi Chief Rabbi, the Rishon LeZion Rav Mordecha Eliahu zt"l. I cannot tell you how great he was because who am I? I had very small connections with him personally, mostly when he gave his support to the idea of the Sheva Mitzvot Bnei Noach twenty years ago. As a result of this backing Rav Menachem Burstin, a talmid of his and later the founder and head of Machon Puah, went to the Bnei Noach conference in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, and I had the honor to accompany him and translate some of his speeches there. Rav Burstin has also been involved in study of the areas of Torah relating to the restoration of the Temple and most significantly in Machon Puah, regarding the connection between Halacha and reproductive biology. Most recently he has become intensively involved in issues of marriage and the family as a natural outgrowth of fertility and family planning issues.
Rav Burstin, like many of those who considered Rav Eliahu "their" gadol, their Torah leader, is an Ashkenazi. This points up one of the unique points in the personality and phenomenon which was Rav Mordechai Eliahu zt"l. You can find not a few Sefardic Jews who consider a great Ashkenazi Rav their teacher or rebbe, the person they go to or follow on major issues. You do not normally find the opposite happening. Rav Eliahu's edition of the Kitzur Shulhan Aruch, with comments both for Ashkenazim and Sefaradim, as well popular sefer on family purity, Darkei Tahara, which is also a guide for both Ashkenazim and Sefaradim in this important area, is exceptional.
This is the generation of Kibbutz Galuyot, the Ingathering of the Exiles. If anyone could be said to be the rabbi who epitomizes this generation, it is Rav Mordechai Eliahu. I only said the bare introduction to the subject. Commenters are free to expand on it. The rest is commentary, go and learn.


yoni said...

politcs. "i don't care if the rabbi is ashkenazi or sefardi or ethiopian, as long as he agrees with my politics." this will be the death of judaism.

Anonymous said...

A big consideration in Pirkei Avot's advice of "Asseh Lechah Rav" is to chose someone who's not only well versed in Halacha but also in Hashkafa.

If anything, we're suffering much more from lack of unity in Hashkafah than we are from whether we can open soda bottles on Shabbat or not.

As long as Rabbanim are of a legitimate caliber to carry out their duties, picking one or another in line with one's world outlook has been happening for 1000s of years.