Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me (Psalms 23:4)
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the leading rabbinic sage of the generation, passed away at the age of 93. Rabbi Yosef suffered from a series of ailments and was pronounced dead at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital today at 1:20 pm.
Jewish law requires burial to take place as soon as possible in the city of Jerusalem and Rabbi Yosef will be buried today in what is anticipated as being one of the largest funeral processions in recent memory. Known by thousands of disciples by his first name as “Rav Ovadia”, he advised prime ministers and shaped Israel’s spiritual and political character for more than half a century. “The Jewish people have lost one of the wisest men of this generation,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “Rabbi Ovadia was a giant in Torah and Jewish law and a teacher for tens of thousands.”
Born in Baghdad on September 23, 1920, Ovadia Yosef immigrated to Israel with his family in 1924. Recognized as a brilliant Torah scholar at a young age, Yosef received his rabbinic ordination at the age of twenty and just a year later was already serving as a judge on the Sephardi Rabbinical Court. (Sephardi loosely means ‘Spanish’ and refers to Jews descending from Spanish, Oriental and Arabic speaking countries). His illustrious rabbinic career led him to election as the Chief Sephardi Rabbi of the city of Petach Tikvah in 1968 and Sephardi Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel in 1973.
Rabbi Yosef was also an outspoken political leader whose vision in 1984 to create the Shas Party for Sephardic Israelis was widely seen as elevating the status of Sephardic Jews, a previously discriminated against community,
A prolific author, Rabbi Yosef wrote dozens of books on Jewish law and practice and was awarded the Israel Prize for Torah Literature in 1970 in recognition of the significant quantity as well as the brilliant quality of his work.
Speaking on behalf of all Israelis, Prime Minister Netanyahu declared that today, “the Jewish people lost one of the sages of the generation.”