Ovadia Yosef’s son Avraham likely Shas candidate for Sephardi chief rabbi

It looks increasingly likely that the Shas candidate for Sephardi Chief Rabbi will be Rabbi Avraham Yosef, the son of the movement’s spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

July 4, 2013 19:26
3 minute read.
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef at Shas campaign launch

Ovadia Yosef Shas campaign launch 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

It looks increasingly likely that the Shas candidate for Sephardi Chief Rabbi will be Rabbi Avraham Yosef, the son of the movement’s spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

Speaking with The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, a Shas party official and close associate of the Yosef family said that Rabbi Avraham looked most likely to be given the nod as the party’s designated candidate for the position.

Earlier this week, a separate party source also told the Post that Avraham Yosef was in pole position to receive the party’s endorsement ahead of his younger brother Yitzhak Yosef, the author of a comprehensive and encyclopedic work of contemporary Jewish law called Yalkut Yosef.

It will be Ovadia Yosef who will make the final decision, as is the case for all major issues dealt with by Shas, although the decision has been delayed somewhat by Yosef’s recent hospitalization and surgery.

The Post understands that it was hoped Ovadia Yosef would be released from hospital on Friday, but that he will now remain in hospital over Shabbat and will return home early next week.

Speaking on Thursday, the Shas party official said that while Yitzhak is very highly regarded in terms of his Torah scholarship and breadth of knowledge, Avraham, as well as being a respected authority in Jewish law in his own right, was also more suitable to the public role and the tasks that come with it, required of a chief rabbi.

Rabbi Avraham Yosef is currently the chief rabbi of Holon.

He will, however, face political opposition from non-haredi parties over controversial comments and rulings in Jewish law he has made in the past.

Ma’ariv reported on Wednesday that the rabbi has said it is preferable for women not to drive because it is immodest, especially in predominantly haredi neighborhoods, and has also ruled that it is forbidden to sell land in Israel to a non-Jew.

Several MKs have expressed opposition to Avraham Yosef’s candidacy, and the Movement for Quality Government in Israel called on the Attorney-General’s Office to call the rabbi to a hearing to explain his rulings.

A Shas official said in response that these rulings were presented in a superficial manner by the paper, and accused Ma’ariv of running a campaign against Avraham Yosef in favor of Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the chief rabbi of Safed and another candidate for the position of Sephardi chief rabbi.

Avraham Yosef has shown moderation on other issues in the past, for instance speaking out against gender separation on buses.

Separately, Rabbi Tzion Boaron, another candidate for the position of Sephardi chief rabbi, let it be known on Thursday that he had recently dispatched a harshly worded letter to Shas chairman Arye Deri accusing him of torpedoing legislation designed to allow Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar to stand for reelection.

“I realized beyond any doubt that it was your hand in this, at first on the side and then as head of the movement,” wrote Boaron.

“What has been done is despicable and unparalleled in its destruction of the Torah and its honor,” raged Boaron.

Political sources have claimed that Deri opposed Amar’s candidacy because the rabbi is more associated with the camp of Eli Yishai, who Deri successfully toppled as Shas chairman after returning from his political exile following his conviction and imprisonment for accepting bribes while in office.

The ongoing political rivalry between the two has led to continued battles within Shas, including the fight over the Chief Rabbinate.

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