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Rabbi Ovadia Yosef

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About The Rabbi

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef was born to an Iraqi Jewish family, in Baghdad, Ottoman Iraq on September 24, 1920 (or in 1918) to Yaakov Ben Ovadia and his wife, Gorgia. His Arabic name was ‘Abdullah Youssef. In 1924, when he was four years old, he immigrated to Jerusalem, Mandatory Palestine, with his family. In Palestine, the family adopted the surname “Ovadia”.

As a teenager he studied at the Porat Yosef Yeshiva, where he advanced to the highest level class taught by the rosh yeshiva, Rabbi Ezra Attiya.

A story retells how Attiya was instrumental in keeping the young Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in the Torah world. At one point, the diligent young scholar suddenly stopped coming to yeshiva for several days. Attiya paid a visit to his home and was shocked by the poverty he saw there. Yosef’s father explained that he ran a small grocery and needed the boy to work for him. Attiya attempted to convince the father of the importance of Torah learning, to no avail. The next morning, when the father entered his store, he found Attiya standing there, wearing a work apron. The rosh yeshiva explained that he had come to the store early that morning when Yosef was opening up. He had told the youth that he had found a substitute worker who would work without pay, and sent him back to yeshiva. “You said that you needed someone to help and could not afford to pay. I am that someone. Your son’s learning is more important than my time!” he told the father, who finally conceded and allowed his son to continue learning in yeshiva.

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