The Roshei Yeshivah and the menahelim were visibly shaken by the petirah of Moreinu HaChacham Rav Ovadiah Yosef, zt”l.
At 11:00 a.m., the Roshei Yeshivah, Chavrei Hakollel and talmidim of the beis medrash and mesivta gathered in the beis medrash as Harav Yisroel Belsky, shlita, spoke about the terrible loss that Klal Yisrael had just experienced.
Harav Belsky compared Chacham Ovadiah Yosef, zt”l, to Avraham Avinu in this week’s parashah: A person who was not satisfied with just improving himself but who actively reached out to bring people to Yiddishkeit and to bring people closer to the Ribbono shel Olam.
Harav Belsky spoke with tremendous emotion. One of the items that he said was that, over the last 50 years, Sephardic Jewry had been on a track of extinction. Torah was being lost. If there was one person out there who reversed the trend and led the charge to rebuild Torah amongst the Sephardishe Kehillos, it was Maran Hagaon Harav Yosef. Hundreds of kehillos, communities, yeshivos, Bais Yaakovs, and more are today filled with ehrliche, Torahdig people of Sephardic descent because of the foresight and hard work of this Adam Gadol.
Harav Belsky said, “I myself have visited many such yeshivos and kehillos and have no words to describe the legacy of what Chacham Ovadiah Yosef has left behind. It is his work that brought the power of lilmod u’lelamed, lishmor v’laasos. It is too early and we are too much in shock to properly say a hesped on such a person but it was important that we stand here today at 11 a.m. while the levayah is ongoing in Eretz Yisrael and connect to them and express our tremendous tzaar at the same time.
Harav Yosef visited Yeshivah Torah Vodaath in the 1970s.