My Father-in-Law, HaRav Ovadia

My Father-in-Law, HaRav Ovadia

Binah published a fascinating interview this week, conducted by writer Debbie Shapiro with Harav Ovadia Yosef’s daughter-in-law, Harabbanit Yehudit Yosef whose family lived with Harav Ovadia for almost two decades. In the interview we get to see a whole different side of Harav Ovadia– as a devoted and loving father-in-law and grandfather. Here’s a short excerpt from the article:

HaRabbanit Yehudit Yosef recalls:

“We had a very warm, wonderful relationship. The Rav was always concerned about our welfare. I never had to worry about my children’s education; when one of my boys encountered difficulties in learning to read, the Rav arranged for a private tutor to come to the house and learn with him, without even telling me. When that same child brought home excellent grades, the Rav celebrated it like a holiday!

“When my children brought home report cards, they first ran to show their grandfather, and only later showed them to
my husband and me. My father-in-law would read the report cards carefully, always looking first at the marks in derech eretz (good behavior), and only later at the academic marks. He often told us that derech eretz kadmah laTorah; it is impossible to attain Torah without derech eretz.

“After each new baby was born to us, the Rav would constantly remind me to rest, and search for ways to help me. Once, when the baby was sleeping in our bedroom, I left my father-in-law eating at the kitchen table and ran downstairs to buy something in the small grocery store almost underneath the apartment. I returned home a few minutes later to an empty kitchen. Through the intercom, I heard the Rav gently cooing to the baby, telling her not to cry.

“Whenever there was an infant in the house, the Rav made a point of holding the baby while reciting Birkat Hamazon [the blessing after meals], explaining that it is a segulah for yirat Shamayim [an auspicious practice to acquire fear of Heaven].

“When one of my children was about two years old, he started waking up at night and walking into the Rav’s study. The Rav would allow him to stay for a few minutes, and then put him back to bed and continue learning. One night, however, the youngster refused to go back to bed. That night, the Rav went to bed early, together with his grandson. In the morning, we found the two of them sound asleep in Sabba’s bed.

“Before my twins were born, the Rav told me that I should not worry about how I would take care of them at night. He would take care of one while I would take care of the other.”


  1. Rachel Aviner

    what beautiful stories.
    thank you for sharing.

  2. Susanna Rossen

    Good man! Very examplary! I shall endeavor to behave like this one day!

  3. Wow! The last story about the twins s is so anazing. The way he reassured her and made such a big committment it shows such caring and love. This is a man who walks the walk.

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