Doctors treating Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef said Tuesday evening
that he remained in serious condition and was receiving medical attention for
Speaking to the press at 4 p.m., Prof. Ya’acov
Naparstek, deputy director of Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s
Ein Kerem, said the 93-year-old Yosef was being given medication for problems
with his blood pressure, as well as continuing to receive “mechanical treatment”
for kidney function and heart rate.
Yosef is currently sedated and on a
“This indicates the failure of several systems which need
medical assistance. We’re doing everything and hoping for the best,” said
Naparstek. “When there is a failure of several systems, in a young man and all
the more so for an elderly person, it does pose a life-threatening [situation],”
he added, but said that the rabbi’s team of doctors were hoping for the
There were reportedly new complications during the day when an
infection in the rabbi’s lungs was discovered, despite a slight improvement overnight and in the
morning when Yosef was briefly awake.
With Yosef’s medical condition
remaining extremely serious, speculation surrounding the fate of the Shas
movement and political party has already begun.
On Tuesday, a report in
Ma’ariv claimed that associates of former chief rabbi Shlomo Amar had said that
Yosef had anointed him his successor.
According to the report, on
Saturday night Yosef instructed his daughter-in-law Yehudit to speak to Amar’s wife and
tell her that Amar must “help and guide” Yosef’s son and newly installed
Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef.
“From his point of view, Rabbi Ovadia
established the hierarchy in a final manner,” Ma’ariv quoted Amar’s associates
Although previously close, relations between Yosef and Amar
have been extremely strained since the elections for the Chief Rabbinate, in
which Amar backed Rabbi Tzion Bo’aron for Sephardi chief rabbi against Yosef’s
son Yitzhak. The rejection of Yosef’s authority by Amar was unprecedented, and
Yosef subsequently refused to accept what was called an insincere apology by
But Amar reportedly visited Yosef on Sunday morning and was warmly
received by the Shas leader.
Yosef’s family reacted furiously to the
claims, told Amar to cease any visits to the hospital, and denied that Yosef had
crowned Amar as his successor.
A well-placed source familiar with the
Shas party’s activities told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that when Yosef dies,
whether in the near or more distant future, the Shas Party as it is currently
known will cease to exist after a short amount of time.
“No matter who
succeeds Rabbi Ovadia, Shas won’t be the same. This whole thing is done,” said
the source. “The power of Rabbi Ovadia is such that when he gave an instruction
or decision, no one dared to argue with him. They might have attacked
[party chairman Arye] Deri or [former party chairman Eli] Yishai, but never the
The source said that only Amar and Yitzhak Yosef were in a
position to inherit Yosef senior’s position as the leader of the movement, but
said their authority would be minimal.
“If Rabbi Amar or Rabbi Yitzhak
issue an instruction or a decision, who’s really going to pay attention?” he
asked. “There is no binding authority there. It will be the end of Shas, and I
think Shas leaders understand this.”
He added that both Amar and Yitzhak
Yosef have advantages and disadvantages. In particular, Yitzhak Yosef is
hampered by the fact that he now holds public office and could not take part in
political activity, while Amar is not impeded by such considerations
But the source said that Yitzhak Yosef is considered to be a
greater Torah scholar than Amar, that he has the benefit of being “the son
of...” and that the very fact that he now physically wears the robe and
hat of the “Rishon Lezion” – as the Sephardi chief rabbi is known – imbues him
with a real sense of authority.
In political terms, the source said that
were Ovadia Yosef to pass away in the near future, the party would probably
survive until the next general elections but would then in all likelihood split
into rival factions.
Shas has been riven by internal conflict since Arye
Deri was reinstalled as party chairman in October 2012 over the head of the
incumbent Eli Yishai.
There have been numerous reports of displeasure
with Deri’s leadership of the party ever since, particularly regarding local
Earlier this month, dozens of Shas supporters demonstrated
against Deri outside his Jerusalem office for refusing to put a particular
candidate on the Shas list for election to the municipal council of Elad,
accusing him of making unilateral decisions without consultation.
source said that although Deri and Yishai would likely be the two focal points
of disparate factions, any of the current Shas MKs could stake a claim for
political authority when Yosef dies.