Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef was released from hospital Sunday
morning after suffering a mild stroke on Saturday and has been instructed to
rest for a number of days.
Yosef, 92, was having trouble operating his
left hand while praying in the synagogue at his home in Jerusalem during the
Shabbat morning service, and he was taken to Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital for
treatment and observation.
Tests revealed that the rabbi had suffered “a
very mild stroke,” according to the Hadassah medical director Dr. Yuval
Yosef’s illness comes at a bad time for Shas, with the party
struggling in all recent polls to improve on its 2009 electoral showing of 11
seats, despite the much-heralded return of former leader Arye Deri to the
frontlines of the political party.
Yosef remains a focal rallying point
for the Shas movement and its future viability without him and his stature as
one of the outstanding Torah scholars of the generation is unclear.
importance of the rabbi to the movement was emphasizes on Sunday night, with
Shas broadcasting a oneminute video containing clips of him performing various
religious functions with his followers.
Yosef has acted as the ultimate
arbiter of Shas’ political policy throughout the years of the party’s
An often-heard refrain during Interior Minister Eli Yishai’s
reign as party chairman over the past 13 years when asked about Shas policy was
that the party “would consult with the rabbi” on a given issue.
August, national security adviser Yaakov Amidror visited Yosef at his Har Nof
home to discuss Shas’ position on Iran’s nuclear program.
Yishai is a
member of the informal nine-minister inner security cabinet of the outgoing
government, which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu consulted on crucial issues
of national importance.
It was believed that Amidror’s visit was designed
to gain support from Yosef, for Netanyahu’s position regarding Iran. Until
recently, it was thought that the rabbi was sceptical about a military strike on
Iran’s nuclear facilities and would thus direct Yishai to oppose such a move in
the security cabinet.
Coalition chairman MK Ze’ev Elkin confirmed the
meeting between Amidror and Yosef at the time, saying “if and when the day comes
he [the prime minister] will present the rabbi with all the facts and
information.” Joint Shas leader Arye Deri said on Sunday that Netanyahu’s
failure to respond to his call Saturday night to sit down and discuss coalition
arrangements meant that the prime minister was intent on forming a coalition
with the parties of the center-left without Shas.
“Ten days before the
elections, the Jewish people have a right to know in which direction our state
is headed,” Deri said.
In response to Deri’s comments, Likud-Beytenu said
that “the public should remember that Deri joined the Left during the time of
the Oslo Accords and therefore anyone who votes Shas is likely to see that party
in a coalition with the Left.”