Monday, June 20, 2011

Sephardi Rabbis


  1. In a certain way, I am worried about the Ashkenazification of the Sephardic Jewry. In the Chasidic world, there are more and more Sephardic Jews who integrate the movement, and "become" Ashkenazim. For me, it's a very bad thing, because the Sephardic world is very rich and I find their culture great and nice. They can definitely be Chassidim while remaining Sephardim and keeping their Minhagim. As I commented in the past, we have a lot of Sephardim in Chabad, especially in France (where they are a majority). The Rebbe said that if they came from already religious families, they should keep their minhagim as far as it does not contradict those Minhagim fixed in "Sefer HaMinhagim Chabad-Lubavitch" which explains in details all the Chabad Minhagim. Those Sephardim who turn completely Ashkenazim are believing the Ashkenazic lie that Sephardim are inferior. Yes, I am an Ashkenazi and I know that many if not most Ashkenazim believe they are culturally and intellectually superior than their Sephardim counterpart. People should not believe such lie. In the past, Sephardic Jewry produced astonishing Rabbis ans Talmidei Chakhomim who made the pride of Judaism. And still in the present, we have Sephardic Gdolei HaTorah as well. They should feel proud about that and not feel inferior. It's always nice when I see a Yemeni Jews who became Lubavitcher but stick to his old and beautiful Minhagim. In Crown Heights, the Yemeni Lubavitchers have their own shul, as the "Satmar" Lubavitchers, so that they can stick to their Minhagim while being Lubavitchers. The Sephardim should do the same. There is no shame to be a proud Sephardi Jew while being a Chosid at the same time. In fact, Chasidism is neither Ashkenazic nor Sephardic. Most of the Minhagim and the Nussach used in Chassidism come from the Sephardic world, while our culture is Ashkenazic.

  2. B"H

    A secular Israeli Sephardi once told me that many Israeli Sepharadim feel that Ashkenazi Jews are more successful in life. In their daily lives and career and not necessarily regarding their religious life.

    This causes many Sepharadim to become jealous and the result is that they want to be like the Ashkenazim. Just look at the case of the Beit Yaakov in the Emmanuel settlement where Sephardi girls wanted to study at a Slonimer Beit Yaakov.

    Sephardi Jewry has any reason to be proud of its heritage and they have had great scholars in the past. Just look at the Rambam, the RIF, the Rashash, the Ben Ish Chai and many others. Those who should study more Sephardi literature would be us, the Ashkenazim.:-)

    On Pessach 2000, I spent the Seder with the Chabad Shaliach of Brussels: Rabbi Menachem Hadad. The family still keeps their Sephardi customs and it was very nice to see !!!

  3. Rabbi Menachem Mendel Hadad is a personnal friend of mine. We met while I was living in Belgium. He is a very nice guy and real Shliach, who keeps his traditions as per the Rebbe's directives. He has been appointed two years ago as the new Chief Rabbi of Brussels, and he is the director of the Beis Chabad for Students, which offers services for Jews who study in public schools and universities.

    I agree with you when you say that "Those who should study more Sephardi literature would be us, the Ashkenazim." The Rebbe instituted a reading cycle of Rambam's writings which has been adopted now by a large fringe of the Jewish world. On many occasions, he quoted prominent Sephardic Rabbis, and he was of the opinion that kept the old traditions more faithfully than the Ashkenazim who, because of the X-tian persecutions, changed and annuled many old Minhagim by fear of the X-tian and later by fear of the Communist regime, while Sephardic Jews enjoyed more freedom in Islamic countries, thus leading them to kept their traditions mostly unchanged. So I think Sephardim have no reason to feel ashamed, and as I told you, Chasidim are, in fact, neither Ashkenazim nor Sephardim, but a mix of both. ALL the Jews have the same value, and it's important that both realize that.

  4. B"H

    I once heard that the present Shomrei Emunim Rebbe was in touch with the Baba Sali.

    After great Sephardi Rabbis such as the Baba Sali died, lots of quarrels began. Look at Netivot today and the war between the Abuchazeiras (in this case, the BABA BARUCH) and their competitor, Rabbi Yaakov Ifergan.
    Or look at the former quarrel between Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef and Rabbi Yitzchak Kaduri.

    After the Pessach Seder in April 2000, I kept in touch with Rabbi Hadad for a while but we lost contact. Sometimes I heard about him when I meet Jews from Brussels.:-)