יום שני כ"ב באייר תשפ"ב 23/05/2022
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  • The Mission Continues

    As in the past so it remains today - we were and still are under the selfsame commitment to adhere to the directions of the Gedolei Yisrael, who stand guard against breaches of purity threatening our camp. When we were required to ask – we asked. When we were instructed to depart – we left. The moment we are summoned back to raise the flag, every other consideration is pushed to the side and we answer: We are ready!

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בראי היום

  • Harav Yisrael Friedman zy”a, the Rebbe of Husyatin

    מוטי, ויקיפדיה העברית

    The ancestral chain of Harav Yisrael Friedman, the founder of the Husyatin chassidic court, originates with the holy Baal Shem Tov. The Husyatin chassidus has its roots in Galicia and eventually came to Tel Aviv, during the turbulent years between the two World Wars.

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  • Maccabi'im Gravesite

    In honour of Chanukah, we will discuss a fascinating, ongoing investigation attempting to establish the place of burial of Mattisyahu Kohen Gadol and his family.

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Reflections

Yahrtzeit of the 'Beit Yosef'

On the 13th of Nissan, Rabbi Yosef Karo passed away. Rabbi Yosef wrote the book the Beit Yosef which is a comprehensive work on halacha.

Motty Meringer 06/04/2009 10:00
Rabbi Yosef Karo was born in 5248 to his father Rabbi Ephraim in the city of Toledo, Spain. Rabbi Yosef is widely referred to as the 'Beit Yosef', the 'Mechaber' or simply as 'Maran'.

During his times, the infamous Spanish Inquisition began to be implemented; however the initiative did not yet have enough power to actually be enforced upon the Jews, who still lived relatively peaceful lives. Many additional famous Rabbis glorified Spain in those days, such as Rabbi Avraham Zechut, Rabbi Ya'akov Bi Rav and Rabbi Yitzchak Arma'a (the Akeidat Yitzchak).

When Rabbi Yosef was only three years old he began learning in the Beit Midrash, where his outstanding and extraordinary qualities were noticed by all. In the year of 5254, when he was four years old, the Spanish Expulsion took place, forcing him and his family as well as his mentor, Rabbi Ya'akov Bi Rav, to flee to neighboring Portugal where they settled in Lisbon. After four years, the Portuguese King succumbed to the intense pressure of the Spanish authorities, and following his daughter's marriage to the son of the Spanish king, the Expulsion was implemented in Portugal as well. Thus, in the year of 5256, Rabbi Yosef and his family were once again forced to leave, and fled to Turkey. The Turkish Sultan acknowledged the great benefits which his country could gain from the newly arrived Jewish immigrants, many of whom were successful businessmen, and received them with open arms. The Karo family settled in Kushta, where Rabbi Yosef began writing his commentaries on 'Yad Hachazakah' – composed by the Rambam, which later served as the basis for his famous work, the 'Beit Yosef'.

In the year of 5268, the 'Beit Yosef' relocated to the city of Adrinopol, where he served as the head of the local Yeshiva. During that time, Rabbi Yosef was already known for his greatness far and wide, and countless pupils flocked to his Yeshiva from all over the country to learn Torah from him. While residing in Adrinopol, Rabbi Yosef married the daughter of Rabbi Albalg who was one of the leaders of the local Jewish community. However, his marriage did not last long, as his new wife passed away after a short illness. Rabbi Yosef then married the daughter of Rabbi Yitzchak Sava.

In the year of 5272, Rabbi Yosef relocated to Bulgaria and settled in the city of Nekopol, where he established a Yeshiva and began writing his commentary 'Beit Yosef', after which he is called. The comprehensive work took him over twenty years to complete. The 'Beit Yosef' is a Halachic composition written on the 'Arba Turim', which Rabbi Ya'akov Ben Harosh had composed. The 'Beit Yosef' brings the basic Halachot of the Gemara and summarizes the commentaries of the Poskim, while concluding with a single, clear ruling. The Beit Yosef would reach his final conclusion based on the rulings of the Rif, the Rambam and the Rosh. In issues where two of the above-mentioned Rabbis had identical rulings, the Beit Yosef would rule like them. If not, he would rule according to the conclusions of other Rishonim. In the introduction to his book, the Beit Yosef noted that his initial idea had been to write his commentaries on the Rambam, but after observing that the Rambam would always bring up only one opinion, he preferred to write on the Tur which includes several opinions, so that he could exploit the different views.

In order to conduct his difficult and comprehensive work, the Beit Yosef required many books which were not available in Nekopol. Therefore, he left Nekopol and traveled to Kushta and Thessalonica where large Jewish libraries existed. During his journey, Rabbi Yosef met the Mekubal and singer Rabbi Shlomo Elkbatz (who composed the song Lecha Dodi). Rabbi Yosef's acquaintance with Rabbi Shlomo deeply influenced him and brought him closer to Kabbalah. Rabbi Yosef additionally met the Marrano Rabbi Shlomo Molcho, who heroically re-embraced Judaism and sacrificed his life for it. These meetings are recorded in the Kabbalistic composition named 'Maggid Meisharim', where several encounters between the Beit Yosef and the 'Maggid' are recorded.

In the beginning of 5296, the Beit Yosef desired to immigrate to the Holy Land, and after many preparations he took leave of his pupils in Thessalonica, Nekopol and Andrinopol. After a long, tiring year-long journey his feet finally stepped on the holy soil. He settled in Safed where he was reunited with his mentor from long ago, Rabbi Ya'akov Bi Rav. Safed was during those days the leading Torah center in the Land of Israel, where many of the expelled Jews from Spain settled and established a flourishing community. Many Torah giants who spent their days studying the revealed and the hidden Torah were members of the local community. It was there Rabbi Yosef completed his work, the 'Beit Yosef'.

In 5314, Rabbi Yosef's first child, Shlomo, was born and a short while thereafter, the mother died.

In 5318, the first edition of the comprehensive work of the Beit Yosef was published, and it quickly became one of the most reliable, basic books of Halachah rulings to which countless people adhered to. After the book was published, Rabbi Ya'akov Bi Rav granted Rabbi Ya'akov with hasmachah, and he became one of the leading Rabbis of his generation.
In 5325, the Beit Yosef married a third time and his second son – Yehudah – was born. As a terrible epidemic hit the city, Rabbi Yosef fled to the little adjacent village of Beriyah. After the epidemic had died out and the danger had passed, Rabbi Yosef returned to Safed. While in Beriyah, he published the book 'Shulchan Aruch', which is a summary of the 'Beit Yosef', and brings only the final ruling without the explanations and debates.

Because Rabbi Yosef was from Spain, most of his Halachic rulings were in accordance with Sephardic Rabbis, and rulings of Ashkenazi Rabbis were not brought up in his compositions. In order to create a comprehensive collection of various rulings and opinions where the rulings of the Ashkenazi Rabbis would also be included, Rabbi Moshe Isserlish (the Rema) composed a book on the 'Beit Yosef' called 'Darchei Moshe', as well as an additional composition called the 'Mapah'. In his introduction to these books, the Rema writes that all the rulings of the Beit Yosef are correct, and that he composed these books only in order to include the Ashkenazi rulings. Following the publishing of the Rema's books, the books of the 'Beit Yosef' became widely popular in the Ashkenazi communities as well, so much so that when the Rema does not bring a final ruling in a certain issue, the Ashkenazim follow the rulings of the Beit Yosef.

The Beit Yosef composed additional books; he published a Responsa called 'Avkat Rochel' and a book called 'Ohr Tzaddikim' on the basic rules of the Talmud. Another book that he composed was 'Maggid Meisharim', where his encounters with the 'Maggid' are recorded. The 'Maggid' was a heavenly creature who would reveal himself to Rabbi Yosef and teach him the secrets of the Torah. The Mekubal Rabbi Shlomo Elbaz testified that he had been present during one of those revelations that took place on the night of Shavuot, and he relates: "G-d has granted us with the merit to hear the voice of the chassid speaking, a loud and clear voice, and all the neighbors also heard the voice but they did not understand. And the pleasantness of the voice was great and the voice became stronger and stronger and we fell on our faces and none of us had the strength or the courage to behold the source of the voice for it was frightening."

A story is told regarding a certain question which the Beit Yosef was learning and to which he could not find a solution; after a whole week of deliberating he finally came upon a satisfactory answer. The following day, as he was delivering a shiur on the topic of that certain issue in the Yeshiva, he gave a detailed account of the problems of the issue. Just before he was about to offer the solution which solves all the problems, one of his pupils rose from his seat and gave the exact same answer that Rabbi Yosef had planned to offer. When the Beit Yosef saw that his pupil had easily and effortlessly arrived at the same conclusion which had taken him a whole week to reach, Rabbi Yosef was physically and emotionally weakened. In the evening, the 'Maggid' revealed himself to Rabbi Yosef and said: "You should not be saddened by what happened today, because with the toil and effort that you have made to understand the problem and find its solution, you have brought down the answer from heaven to earth. Once it was brought down, there was no longer a difficulty for someone else to reach the right conclusion."

In 5333, the Beit Yosef completed his commentary on the Rambam – the 'Kessef Mishneh'. He sent it to be published in Venetia during the following year. One year thereafter, in 5335, on the 13th of Nissan, a Thursday, the Beit Yosef returned his holy soul to his creator at the age of 87. He was buried in the Old Cemetery of Safed.