Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 4: Picard sheds light on the real Rabbi Ovadia Yosef

Yesterday we were visited by Dr. Ariel Picard, a research fellow at the Jerusalem based Hartman Institute who researches contemporary Jewish law. In 2007 he his book on the Jewish legal decisions of the well known Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel. Picard joined our summer seminar group to shed light on Yosef’s mindset when dealing with modern problems.

Picard said that Yosef Jewish legal finds tend to be more lenient because of his efforts to be more inclusive of various different groups. For example, when Yosef was approached give a ruling on what a local school should do with young ladies who wear mini-skirts instead of longer more modest dresses, the former chief rabbi recommended a compromise that they wear long pants instead of the mini-skirts. Picard said this was just one of many findings he uncovered showing that Yosef was trying to adapt Jewish laws to include as many people as possible, show some flexibility where possible and ultimately prevent them from leaving the faith if they may be unhappy with current Jewish religious law.

-- Karmel Melamed

(Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, former chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel)

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