Shas leadership says Council of Torah Sages will continue to coordinate with political party

Party chairman Deri says Yosef's sons would continue his spiritual path but no-one could replace him.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef funeral 370 (photo credit: Koby Gideon/GPO)
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef funeral 370
(photo credit: Koby Gideon/GPO)
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 unanswered.
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 movement.
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.
Shas MK 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 council.
“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 constitution.
But he added that Yosef’s sons would also be consulted, emphasizing their status as respected Torah scholars in their own right.