Friday, June 08, 2007

R. Ovadiah Yosef on Sages and Science

In a 1976 responsum (published in Yabi'a Omer, vol. 10, Yoreh De'ah 24) regarding a Brooklyn yeshiva rebbe who taught that the view of R. Avraham ben Ha-Rambam regarding the Sages and science, R. Yosef was extremely opposed to this view although he recommended retaining the rebbe but reaching out to him to convince him to change his views.

It was recently brought to my attention that a R. Moshe Levi in Israel wrote a book on the laws of Shabbos titled Menuchas Ahavah with the commentary Mei Menuchos. He discussed the issue of the Talmudic permission to kill lice on Shabbos because they do not reproduce (i.e. they generate spontaneously), explained that they do reproduce and the Sages were incorrect, but defended the ruling for a different reason. After his book was published, he was evidently challenged on this. In the third edition of his book (published in 1992), he wrote a long defense of his view and had his mentor, someone with whom I am not familiar but goes by the name Ne'ema"n S"t (I believe the last abbreviation stands for Sephardi Tahor [Pure Sephardi]), write a brief approbation to which R. Ovadiah Yosef signed his agreement. Below is the text. Click on it to enlarge it.

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