Monday, July 02, 2007

New Volume of Rav Ovadiah Yosef's "Hazon Ovadiah," on the halakhot of the Four Fasts, the Three Weeks, Nine Days, Tisha B’Av, and Zekher le-Hurban

New Volume of Rav Ovadiah Yosef's "Hazon Ovadiah:"
On the halakhot of the Four Fasts, the Three Weeks,
Nine Days, Tisha B’Av, and Zekher le-Hurban
by Eliezer Brodt

A new sefer just reached the seforim stores today, just in time for the three weeks. The newest volume of Chazon Ovadiah of the great gaon Rav Ovadiah Yosef. This sefer includes halakhot on a few areas: the halakhot of the Four Fasts, the Three Weeks (& Nine Days), Tisha B’Av, and halakhot related to Zekher le-Hurban, including going to the Kotel, etc. In the back there are hespedim which Rav Ovadiah delivered for various Gedolim amongst them R. Yitzchak Herzog, R. Zvi Pesach Frank and R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach. Chazon Ovadiah is 577 pages and includes a very thorough index.

In the past few years we have been privileged to a complete encyclopedic collection on all the Yom Tovim from Rav Ovadiah Yosef. It all started many years ago when he wrote a set of seforim called Chazon Ovadiah on Pesach related topics. These seforim received impressive haskamot from many gedolim, amongst them R. Tvi Pesach Frank and R. Shlomo Yosef Zevin. It appears that this particular project was put on hold and Rav Ovadiah turned his attention to printing his Sheelot u-Teshuvot. Then, a few years ago he started printing his shiurim and notes on the sefer Ben Ish Chai. This resulted in an eight volume set called Halikhot Olam. Finally, after all that, Rav Ovadiah returned to the Yom Tov series, Chazon Ovadiah, starting with Purim than Hilkhot Yom Tov. He then continued with Pesach, Succot, Yomim Noraim and Chanukah. Earlier this year, Tu B’Shevat and Hilkhot Berakhot were printed. Thus far, the set is eight massive volumes. One only hopes that Rav Ovadiah continues this set with Hilkhot Shabbat.

Amongst the reasons why I recommend this particular set of seforim, even if one is not of sefaradic origin is as follows: Rav Ovadiah Yosef is world famous for his unbelievable memory resulting in a tremendous bekiut. [I once joked that he must have had someone develop some computer program and attached it to his brain to help him retain so much information and recall it at all times.] When one uses this work, as with all of his other works, one can find hundred of sources from the Rishonim to extremely obscure Sheelot u-Teshuvot on virtually every topic related to the Yomim Tovim. He even quotes many, very recent seforim. He covers many sugyot quite comprehensively, whereas others Rav Ovadiah simply brings down a few sources. Besides for all this, one has literally hundreds of pesakim of a great gaon on all of these topics.

All this results in making it an excellent reference for Rabbanim, Maggedei shiurim, interested laymen, and any one interested in researching any topic related to the Yomim Tovim. From all the many seforim which are printed every year on the Yomim Tovim, the entire set of Hazon Ovadiah is by far the most impressive in terms of its sources and information.

One interesting point I found in this most recent volume of Chazon Ovadiah was that Rav Ovadiah mentions in the introduction that he uses the highly 'controversial' sefer Hemdat Yamim [see here for Dan Rabinowitz's post on Tu B'Shvat]. Rav Ovadiah justifies his use of this sefer, as many great Sephardi gedolim have used this sefer, ever since it was printed, so although the R. Jacob Emden comes out very strongly against Hemdat Yamim, Rav Ovadiah still quotes from it.

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