This past Thursday, 5 Kislev, the Sephardic Chief Rabb of Israel, HaRav Yitzchok Yosef, paid a special visit to Yeshiva Ohr Elchonon Chabad in Los Angeles, California.
He was warmly greeted by Rabbi Boruch S. Cunin, head Shliach to the West Coast, and Rabbi Ezra Schochet, the Rosh HaYeshiva.
There was a profound historical connection to this visit, as some 40 years ago, when Rabbi Yosef’s father, Rav Ovadia A”H, 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 to them about the importance of learning Nigleh and Chassidus and how they can become effective Shluchim by being b’nei Torah. His words were very well accepted by the bochurim who were impressed by Rav 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 HoRav Chaim Noeh. The Rishon LeTziyon recalled how Rabbi Noeh, 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 Rav Noeh, as a result of his encyclopedic knowledge of Halacha, was able to give the appropriate Halachik answers to both Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews.
Rabbi Yosef also related that a while back, when excavators discovered a Mikvah right outside the Kosel 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 HoRav Chaim Noeh – 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 Rav HoRoshi’s words and stated that he had clear Hora’os 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.