Mishnah Berurah Tiferet
By: Leon Sakkal
The monumental masterpiece that has taken the Sephardic world by storm welcomes its latest volume
In February of 2014, Sephardic scholars and laymen alike were delighted upon the release of a publication long overdue. Mishnah Berurah Tiferet, a masterful work comprising the Halachic conclusions of the great Sephardic authorities, has been well received to say the least. In February, the project saw the release of its latest volume.
The Mishnah Berurah
In 1904, the holy Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan, zt”l, (1838–1933), or Hafetz Hayim as he is better known, published his historic work on halacha, the Mishnah Berurah. The six-volume masterpiece is a commentary on Orah Hayim, the first section of the Shulhan Aruch, dealing with the laws of prayer, synagogue, Shabbat and holidays, among a host of other laws concerning daily living. In this profound work, the Hafetz Hayim brilliantly summarizes the opinions of the Aharonim (post-Medieval rabbinic authorities), offering a final ruling on these much-disputed topics.
The Mishnah Berurah is unique in its being accessible for the layman, while also providing depth and intricacy for the scholar. In today’s yeshivot, students and rabbis alike find the text immensely valuable for the study of practical halacha. It goes without saying that this classic work has become the foremost halachic text for Ashkenazic Jewry.
However, although it is perhaps the most lucid and user-friendly companion to the Shulhan Aruch, the laws and customs of Sephardic Jews are often different, making the tome less ideal for Sephardic students. Indeed, as Sephardic Jewry began to attend the many prominent yeshivot of the Ashkenazim, a newfound dilemma surfaced.
Filling the Void
For many years, the dilemma remained largely unsolved, with many rabbis offered different solutions to the predicament. Hacham Ovadia Yosef, zt”l, for example, instituted that students of Yeshivat Hazan Ovadia should continue their study of the Mishnah Berurah and take advantage of the clarity in its presentation but urged them to then seek the opinions of Sephardic luminaries.
Finally, the editor-in-chief of the Mishnah Berurah Tiferet tells us that after examining a modern layout of the Mishnah Berurah; one which incorporates all contemporary Ashkenazi poskim, he had the idea of utilizing the very same style while integrating Sephardic poskim, such as the Ben Ish Hai, the Hida, Rav Hayim Palagi, and Hacham Ovadia Yosef to name a few.
And so he did.
After the initial release of the first volume just three-years-ago, Mishnah Beurah Tiferet has taken the Sephardic learning community by storm. Generously dedicated in honor of Al Gindi, and in memory of Sonny Gindi, A”H, the first volume was released in the winter of 2014. The response was nothing short of amazing.
Immediately, the book sold by the thousands throughout the United States and Israel, while hundreds were shipped to Mexico and Argentina.
The editors tell us they often receive calls and emails from elated educators, thrilled to report they deliver their daily classes from the books. Their words of deep gratitude keep the team at Miph’al Arzei Ha’lebanon, the publishing house under which the books are printed, excited to move forward with the release of more volumes. The editors have received emails from rabbis as far as Spain, happy to state that they, too, deliver their discourses from the Mishnah Berurah Tiferet. These much sought-after books have long since sold out in England, and more are currently being shipped to Southern Europe. More copies are currently being shipped to Southern Europe.
Among the hard-working scholars on the editorial board are Rabbi Gad Yazdi and Rabbi Shemuel Yair. The editors tell us that they are regularly approached by yeshiva students, glad to report that they use the books every single day. The Tiferet is fast becoming a staple volume-set in Sephardic yeshivot throughout Israel.
Copies have been requested from different denominations of religious Jewry as well. More recently, Rabbi Gavriel Zinner, shlita, the Hasidic author of the twenty-seven volume ‘Nitei Gavriel,’ requested copies of the Mishnah Berurah Tiferet, while some seventy copies have just been shipped to different kollelim in Russia.
Local community rabbis, including our very own Rabbi Eli Mansour, deliver their daily Mishnah Berurah classes through the Tiferet.
Never Before Seen…
Upon learning that the latest volume would cover the halachot of Shabbat, Rav David Yosef contacted the team at Tiferet. Rav Yosef himself has authored the renowned Halacha Berurah, an eminent work on halacha, and although the volumes that will cover the laws of Shabbat are still in production, he was determined not be left out of the book’s latest volumes. He offered Rabbi Gad Yazdi, a member of the editorial board (as well as Hacham Ovadia Yosef’s trusted personal editor for twenty-one-years), a digital drive containing the manuscripts of material he hopes to release in later volumes of his Halacha Berurah. And thus, the editors have extracted and printed the rulings of Hacham David Yosef that have yet to be released!
The Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, Hacham Yitzhak Yosef, has also contributed exclusive material to the project. After the passing of his father, Hacham Ovadia, zt”l, the Chief Rabbi inherited his father’s notes on Sefer Kaf HaHayim (Rav Yaakov Hayim Sofer, zt”l, 1870-1939). Due to his love for the project, this cherished heirloom was passed over to the editors, and the curtained thoughts and views of Hacham Ovadia Yosef have been installed in the sixth volume of Mishnah Berurah Tiferet.
After the release of the latest book, Volume III Part II, Hacham Yitzhak hosted the editors for a personal home visit to discuss the new book. Aside for the complimentary copies the Rabbi was offered, he made sure to request more for his children. The Rabbi makes no secret of his love for the project, and often cites its contents in his weekly Motzaei Shabbat discourse.
Rav Ben Sion Mutzafi, noted author, mekubal, and av bet din, has emotionally stated that the Sepharadim have waited years to see the production of such books come to light. He recalls the days he studied by his teacher, Hacham Ben Sion Abba Shaul, zt”l, telling how his revered teacher would deliver a class each Friday on the Mishnah Berurah, careful to add the opinions of Sephardic authorities.
“How we longed to see a Sefer like the Mishnah Berurah Tiferet!” he says.
Hacham Yitzhak Yosef also extolled the project, announcing in a video interview:
“This endeavor is of vital significance. The Sefer was lacking; it was needed. Yes, several other works of this nature have been published, but they were incomplete. This Sefer Tiferet, is of great importance. Everything is written in full detail, and it includes the teachings of my father, the leader of our generation, may his memory be blessed.
“I’ve seen other commentaries to the Mishnah Berurah. They were written with certain biases; they quote this commentator and that one -but the opinions of my father, they don’t quote. His conclusions aren’t there at all! But here in the Tiferet everyone is quoted.”
Similarly, HaRav Meir Mazuz (Rosh Yeshivat Kisse Rahamim) maintains that the name of the book is very much apropos, being that ‘Tiferet’ (compassion) is the harmonizing attribute of the soul, (blending the two polar opposites of Hesed and Gevura). Likewise, the publication unites us, as it cites in an unbiased fashion the Ashkenazic and Sephardic conclusions. The Rosh Yeshiva also lauded the project, insisting the editors did a fantastic job.
Israeli book distributors say that Mishnah Berurah Tiferet is currently one of the most popular books of its genre on the market. Much of the recent shipments are headed for schools, yeshivot, and synagogues, as such institutions receive 15% off the market price throughout the first month of the book’s release.
Completing the Set
There are currently three books of the Mishnah Berurah Tiferet available for purchase at Judaica stores everywhere. Volume Six, the first to have been released, covers the Mo’adim (Holidays), providing an in-depth analysis of the practical laws and customs of Sukkot, Hanukkah, Purim, Shavuot, Tisha B’Av, and more. Volume III Part I was released two-years ago. It is the first of two parts that constitute Volume Six, both of which cover the halachot of Shabbat.
The latest volume to be released, Volume III Part II, has just hit the shelves last month and, as we’ve seen, is already a bestseller.
By Hanukah, the team hopes to release the newest volume, Volume II, which covers the laws of berachot.
With four more to go before becoming a full seven-volume set, Mishnah Berurah Tiferet is sure to quench our thirsts for halacha and inspire pride in our unique