Open O ‘Rabbi’ Falsifying the Torah of Rav Ovadia Yosef

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m[By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for the Five Towns Jewish Times]

In a recent FaceBook post that was re-tweeted on a frum website, O’O-Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz falsely states that Rav Ovadia Yosef recommended praying in a mosque over praying alone.

This is patently false. Rav Ovadia never made such a ruling. He never mentions it in any of his responsas – neither in “Yabia Omer” nor in “Yechaveh Daas.” This is a falsehood that O’O’-Rabbi Yanklowitz came up with to justify him going to have a joint prayer session at a mosque together with Moslems.

So where did he get it from? This author suspects that he had casually misread a website that quotes Rav Ovadia in permitting davening at Maaras HaMachpela. He has the audacity to attack that other website by writing, “What they don’t know is that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef writes… etc.” In the meantime, he has besmirched the name of a leading Posaik by attributing false halacha to him.

The website passage that this author suspects that the O’O’Rabbi misread states as follows:

Is a Jew Permitted to Enter a Mosque or Church in a Case of Great Need?
Question: May a Jew enter a mosque or church when there is a need to do so or to visit there as a tourist attraction?

The Practice of Maran Harav Shlit”a While Serving as a Rabbi in Egypt

Entering a Muslim Mosque

Regarding entering a mosque, the Rambam explains in one of his responses that Ishmaelites are not considered idol-worshippers since they believe in Hashem, blessed is He, and there is no denial of Hashem in their religion or anything else that should cause them to be considered idol-worshippers. We are therefore lenient and sell our lands to Ishmaelites during the Shemitta (Sabbatical) year based on the “Heter Mechira” process although it is forbidden to sell land in Eretz Yisrael to an idol-worshipper; this is because Ishmaelites are not considered idol-worshippers. Based on this, mosques are not considered actual houses of idol worship and one may enter them according to the letter of the law.

Summary: It is absolutely forbidden to enter a house of idol worship. Included in this prohibition is entering a Christian church or other kinds of houses of idol worship in the Far East. Nevertheless, there is no halachic prohibition to enter an Arabic Muslim mosque; this is especially true when this is being done in order to pray there, such as at the graves of our forefathers in the Machpela Cave in Chevron.

It is this last line of this link and the title [and the fact that No where in his vast writings does Rav Ovadia zatzal say what Yanlowitz has him saying) that indicates to this author the source for his mistake.

So please, please, if you are reading this – do not erroneously read websites in your attempt to state halacha. You should also apologize for the falsehood.

In another development, Rav Shlomo Miller Shlita, one of the leading Poskim in North America, released a request that Orthodox Jewish news media should refrain from using the term “Open Orthodox” when describing this movement – because they are not Orthodox and it is misleading. Rav Miller added that their commitment to halacha is similar to that of the Reform movement when they first started.

The letter from Rav Shlomo Miller is attached here:.

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The author can be reached at yairhoffman2@gmail.com


12 COMMENTS

  1. I think the quote from R’ Miller at the end is the most important point. It is addressed to Newspapers, but the same should apply to News Websites, and anyone else ever quoting these reshaim. Maybe we can also avoid calling them Rav or Rabbi. Change just one letter and call them ‘Rev’!

    Once the distinction between these charlatans and real Orthodox is widely understood, no one will pay any attention to what they claim R’ Ovadia Yosef or anyone else said.

  2. What an idiot. מסלף דברי צדיקים. Rav Ovadia Z”l never said such a thing. I would rather not pray at all than to pray in a shmoutzque. I would like to know when this guy prays in a moske if he prays shmoneh esrai standing or kneeling down like his muslim friends. and I doubt if muslims can metsaref a jew for a minyan.. this idiot is wacked. Thank you Rabbi Hoffman for posting this.

  3. Now he’ll be able to diminish everything else we have written about him and his treife ilk
    H e sprung a trap for that website,and by jumping in on this one, they fell for it.

  4. “there is no halachic prohibition to enter an Arabic Muslim mosque;”

    the Arabs may be our enemies, but they unlike the Christians, do not worship idols.

  5. While it’s known that one may ENTER a mosque as opposed to a Church (because technically its not Avoda Zoroh – they ‘pray’ to the same G-D). Nowhere did R Ovadia say it is better to pray there then to pray at home.

    Either way these Open Orthodox people are so superficial and only dumb people are getting drawn to them.

  6. Rabbi Hoffman should look at Rav Ovadia’s original teshuva Yabia Omer vol. 7 YD no. 12, paragraph 4 where Rav Ovadia says there is no problem to daven in a mosque. (Tangentially, Rav Ovadia also brings there a number of opinions permitting drinking wine touched by Muslims).

  7. RebAvrum… In that teshuvah, Rav Ovadia gives permission for an Israeli gov’t employee to accept an invitation to pray in a mosque for the sake of enhancing a diplomatic relationship for the State.

    There are also numerous teshuvos allowing davening in the Ma’aras haMachpelah, even in the days when doing so would be to pray in a mosque.

    However, there is a big jump from permitting something when there are extenuating circumstances to claiming there is no problem and permissible lekhat-chilah (ab initio), as you are reading that teshuvah. AND, there is still a big gap between even what you said and Shmuly’s claim that Rav Ovadiah ruled that it was “BETTER to pray in a moque than just on one’s own.” (emphasis his)

    That said, what is being displayed is a flippant attitude toward halakhah. As Shmuly explained to me in the comment chain on that Facebook post (http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/faxes/shmulyMsgd.jpg), “Micha Berger, you’re looking at a passage in Yabia Omer. I’m referring to a pesak much earlier in his Cairo beis din days…i need to remember where I saw it.”

    I asked, “So you made a halachic decision based on a somewhat remembered pesaq that Rav Ovadia himself reneged on?”

    The title of this piece says “falsified”, which according to my dictionary means to “alter (information or evidence) so as to mislead.” Shmuly didn’t do this, and mis-portraying your opponent will get you pats on the back from the choir at the expense of any chance of being heard by anyone else. He made a halachic decision that reflects a total lack of the sense of importance Orthodoxy gives halakhah. Frankly, that’s bad enough.

  8. To clarify the last paragraph: Shmuly lacks the yir’as Shamayim (fear/awe of [the One in] heaven) to be a true poseiq. So he came up with an answer without trying very hard to collect the facts, nor to get them correctly.

    But “falsify” implies ziyuf, intentional distortion. That’s a different problem than not taking care to avoid ta’us, error. And if there is anyone on the fence you hope to reach, you need to correctly address what he’s hearing from the people on the other side.