While the Shas movement and its leaders started to come to terms with the death
of their spiritual guide, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, on Tuesday, many questions
regarding the decision-making process within the party remained
Yosef was the president of the four-man Council of Torah
Sages and decided all major Shas policy issues; his instructions were then
relayed to the political party.
The remaining members of the council are
rabbis Shalom Cohen, Shimon Baadani and Moshe Maya.
But without Yosef,
the authority of the council has been called into question – even though,
according to Shas’s constitution, it remains the highest power within the
With the Knesset winter session set to begin next week and
several crucial issues relating to religious affairs, such as haredi enlistment,
scheduled for debate and eventually for plenum votes, the party will need to
establish a new decision- making process.
Shas Party Chairman Arye Deri
said Tuesday at the mourning tent outside Yosef’s residence that the council
would now serve as a “collective leadership,” and not as before, “when it was
our master [Yosef] alone.”
He added that Yosef’s sons would continue his
spiritual path, but that there was no one who could replace him.
and former construction and housing minister Ariel Attias noted on Israel Radio
that the party had not consulted Yosef on every detail of the issues that arose,
adding that even on the central issues, he would take advice from the
“On the biggest things – coalitions, basic laws, peace
agreements – he would always consult with the Council of Torah Sages, which he
respected and understands his thinking,” said Attias. “The politicians will
continue to run the party.”
Yitzhak Sudri, a former Shas spokesman and
member of the party’s inner circle, told The Jerusalem Post that although
Yosef’s death left a “huge void” in the party’s decision-making process, there
would not be a new appointment to the Council of Torah Sages or a decision on
council president in the coming days. He said those decisions would likely be
delayed until after the 30-day mourning period.
He insisted that the
authority of the council remained unaffected and said the political leadership
would be in consultation with the council, in accordance with Shas’s
But he added that Yosef’s sons would also be consulted,
emphasizing their status as respected Torah scholars in their own right.
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