Answers to Quora Questions by Yair Davidiy
Source of Picture: ADL slams chief rabbi for likening black people to monkeys
See the replies to this query by Ely Erlich and Ilana Halupovich. They have answered it better than I can.
The father of Rabbi Yistchak Yosef was Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef who fought tooth and nail for the rights of Ethiopian Jews.
This is how YNET reported the incident:
In a video obtained by Ynet, the online version of Yediot Acharonot, Yosef goes into an extensive discourse on recounting the blessing when one sees a black person. He repeatedly uses the term 'Kushi,' which derives from the biblical term for Ethiopia. The term was commonplace in Israel's early decades but has been seen since at least the 1980s as a mild pejorative.
Yosef said the blessing does not apply to every black person.
'You don't bless every Kushi, you walk in American streets, every five minutes you see a Kushi, are you going to deliver the blessing of the differentiated? It has to be a Kushi whose mother and father are white, if you know, however you know, that a monkey son came forth from them, that it came from them this way, then you say on him, the blessing of the differentiated creature. So, you're going to say, do you need two Kushis (to say the blessing)? No!' he said.
Ynet obtained a response from Yosef's office which noted that the Talmud uses the example of a black person to explain appropriate uses of the blessing of the differentiated, and also mentions monkeys. However, the passage cited does not compare black children to monkeys. Instead it appears to list differentiated creatures that would require blessing, including black people, elephants and monkeys. Additionally, the use of the term Kushi is normative in the Talmud, but no longer so in everyday Israeli speech.
He says that a black child born from black parents is normal and there is no need to make an exception of it. A black baby born from white parents would however be an exceptional occurrence. It would be like a 'ben-cof' (son of a monkey) i.e. a human baby that looked like a monkey. It would be exceptional and therefore worthy of making a blessing over. He is not saying that there is anything necessarily wrong with such a creature only that it departs from the normal to an abnormal degree. Anyway it is not certain what he meant. He could also be understood to say that one should not say the blessing when seeing an ordinary black person because it is not necessary. He speaks a lot and quickly with his thoughts running into each other. Whatever he said, if it was wrong then it may have been a slip of the tongue such as could happen to anybody. He is not reading from a text. Like his father before him he knows the material off by heart and speaks without notes. The subject matter is complicated. It would be easy to make mistakes in speech under such conditions.
If so much attention is being paid to the niceties of his expressions on this matter, why not on the other issues?
He says that everybody should behave better than they have been. Jews especially should be more religious. There is reward and punishment in this world. If you act as you should God will bless you.
These are all true admonitions.
Why not place more emphasis on them?