"Some people, even when they’re meant to talk about someone else, they end up talking about themselves. With Abba, it was the opposite"
In conjunction with the siyum on Maseches Yoma, Sephardic chief rabbi Chacham Yitzchak Yosef addressed the members of Minyan Avreichim of Sanhedria Murchevet, which is led by Rav Yitzchak Berkovits. In his remarks, the Rishon L’Tzion shared a memory of his revered father, Chacham Ovadiah.
“Late one Leil Shabbos, toward the end of his life, my father — my rebbi — rose above his pain to learn, pushing himself to stay awake as he toiled over a teshuvah of the Nodah BeYehuda. Near one o’clock in the morning, he looked at me. ‘Yitzchak, you’re still awake?’
“I nodded. ‘I’m learning.’
“Then Abba did something he rarely did. He spoke about himself. You know, some people, even when they’re meant to talk about someone else, they end up talking about themselves. With Abba, it was the opposite. He rarely talked about his life. Now, late on a Friday night, he told me something I never knew. ‘I made my first siyum on Shas when I was 15, did you know that?’
“No, I hadn’t known. ‘If you finished when you were 15,’ I asked him, ‘when did you begin?’
“Abba smiled. ‘When I was nine. And then, my next siyum, I made when I was 19.’
“I was amazed. ‘With Tosafot?’ I asked.”
“Abba looked at me. ‘Kamuvan (Obviously),’ he said. A few weeks later he was niftar. I was grateful that he shared this piece of information we hadn’t known before it was too late.”
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 870)
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