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By: Rabbi Joseph Dana

This past month, the community was honored to welcome the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rishon Letzion, Hacham Yitzhak Yosef, to Deal, New Jersey. While here, he visited our synagogues in Deal, Park Avenue, Lawrence Avenue, Hathaway, West Long Branch, and West Deal. He gave congregants beautiful divrei Torahand was kind enough to bestow many of them with individual berachot. He also visited the DSN Hesed Camp, and gave our young do-gooders hizuk. We are so grateful to the Hacham for allowing us to bask in and benefit from his kedusha.

Monday, July 18thwas a particularly magical evening. Many of our dear community members came to show their support to the Hacham as he marched into the West Deal Synagogue. Setting the tone for the evening, our community hazanimbegan with a special performance prepared for the Chief Rabbi. Their harmonious voices echoed throughout the audience. This group of truly gifted men – Shelomo Tehrani, Yehezkel Sion, Shlomo Shemer, Yisrael Halevi, and Gilad Tehrani – deserve our warmest thanks.

Following this beautiful performance, Rabbi Saul J. Kassin, Rabbi of Congregation Magen David of West Deal, welcomed the crowd and introduced them to a Chief Rabbi not only known for his extensive Torah knowledge, but for his humility as well. Rabbi Kassin told of the busy week that Hacham Yitzhak had since arriving in Deal, tirelessly going from place to place, showing his support for our community. He mentioned the special visits that the Rabbi made to our community’s elderly, giving them personalized, much-appreciated blessings. Rabbi Kassin then handed the microphone to Rabbi Eli J. Mansour, who spoke next.

Rabbi Eli Mansour talked about Hacham Yitzhak’s commitment to halacha, discussing his famous anthology Yalkut Yosef, which has paved its way into so many Jewish homes around the world. This spectacular set of books now grants anyone access to thousands of every-day halachot, helping thousands to better live their lives as Torah Jews. Rabbi Mansour went on to proclaim to the enchanted crowd that our Chief Rabbi’s father, Maran Hacham Ovadia Yosef, zt”l, and his son serve as the pillars of Halacha for the entire Jewish nation.

Directly after his speech, Hacham Yitzhak came on to address the eager, packed house. As he spoke, Rabbi Albert Setton, Assistant Rabbi of Congregation Magen David of West Deal, translated the Rabbi’s words into English so that all could fully benefit fromthe Rabbi’s precious insight. First, Hacham Yitzhak Yosef acknowledged the full stage of rabbis behind him, including our Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Shaul Kassin, may Hashem give him long life and good health. He then spoke to the audience about the importance ofstudying Torah, and recognizing that all that we have is given directly from Hashem. ‎He also stressed the importance of daily halachastudy. The Chief Rabbi’s message was clear – the love that one has for halachashould be as intense and everlasting as the love one feels towards his new bride. We need to make every effort to welcome the Torah’s laws into our homes.

At the conclusion of his remarks, the Rabbi requested one final song from the hazanimto close the evening. As the hazanimsang, all the children were invited to receive a special blessing from the rabbi. There was no shortage of blessings that evening; the rabbi sincerely blessed all who approached him. As the rabbi proceeded to exit the shul, he stopped every few feet, showing endless patience as he continued to give encouragement and blessings to the people.