Ailing Shas spiritual leader Yosef kept in dark on brother’s death

Ovadia Yosef's doctors and family fear that news of his brother's death will cause his health to deteriorate.

Ovadia Yosef Shas campaign launch 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Ovadia Yosef Shas campaign launch 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s children and his doctors decided not to inform him about the death of his brother out of fear it would cause his health to deteriorate, a source in the rabbi’s family said on Sunday.
Yosef was rushed to the hospital late Saturday night due to backaches and other ailments, which his family members said had left him crying in pain.
Staff at Hadassah University Medical Center, in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem, installed a pacemaker in the 93-year-old rabbi.
He was also hospitalized over Rosh Hashana but came home in time to attend the ceremony in which his son, Yitzhak, formally accepted the title of Sephardi chief rabbi.
But in between the hospital visits, the Shas mentor’s pain did not stop. So when his brother, Naim, died before Succot, Yosef’s doctor, Prof.
Yohanan Shtessman, and his children decided to keep him in the dark.
“We decided that hearing such bad news could cause him serious harm,” a source in the rabbi’s family said. “His mental situation is not good.
When he feels better, with God’s help, we will let him know.”
The source could not confirm an Army Radio report that when Yosef asked for a newspaper on the day his brother’s death was reported, the rabbi was incorrectly told that newspapers had not been published that day.
The report was compared to a classic incident in November 1957, when the newspaper Davar published a special edition without the news that then-prime minister David Ben-Gurion’s military attaché Nehemia Argov had committed suicide. The special edition was printed to show Ben- Gurion, who was hospitalized after he survived an assassination attempt in the Knesset.
For years, Shas officials have denied charges that they have not informed the rabbi about key news developments. But on Sunday, a source in the party revealed that Yosef had not been told that his grandson, Yonatan, had decided to run for Jerusalem city council on a list that will compete with Shas.
Shas officials asked the public to pray for Yosef’s health. A special prayer was uttered by the masses who came to the Western Wall for the traditional Birkat Kohanim priestly blessings on Sunday morning, and special services were held at Jerusalem’s Bukharim synagogue and in Safed.