hrplogo.gif (11959 bytes)

Jewish Studies

The Wit and Wisdom of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef

(Spiritual leader of the Shas Party, part of Israel's government coalition)

The Times - Friday 29 June 2001

Rabbi Tells of Conversation with Messiah

From Sam Kiley in Jerusalem

ISRAEL'S ultra--Orthodox Sephardi community was engulfed in a wave of religious optimism after Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual leader of the Shas party, said that he had conversed with the Messiah in a dream.

Rabbi Yosef, the former Sephardi Chief Rabbi, who recedntly said that Arabs were snakes and should be annihilated, told his followers that he had a dream on Friday.

Rabbi Ben-Zion Mutzafi, one of his followers, said that Rabbi Yosef had told him that in his dream "at the Western Wall plaza and in all of Jerusalem there were only Jews ... There were no non-Jewish foreigners there. They had already been expelled [before the coming of the Messiah]".

The Saviour was said to have exhorted Jewish children to study the Torah, the Jewish Bible. He had told Iraqi-born Rabbi Yosef: "Anyone who is for God should come to me, so that there will be teachers to teach them Torah. Not one school will remain without Torah. Everyone will study Torah."

The rabbi's party, Shas, holds 17 of the 120 seats in the Knesset and has a wide following among the working class and the ultra-Orthodox. Under Ehud Barak it held the balance of power in parliament and extracted huge subsidies for its religious schools. Its former political leader, Arieh Deri, is serving six years in jail for fraud.

These mundane dramas have done nothing to dampen enthusiasm for Rabbi Yosef's "vision". Eliyahu Shai, the Shas chairman and Internal Affairs Minister, said yesterday: "Every Jew who is waiting for the Messiah sees in the dream ... significant tidings in anticipation of salvation".

Rabbi Mutzafi said: "Until now we have not heard of anyone who saw the Messiah in a dream. These things are evidence that salvation is nigh".

[emphases HRP]

Lynchburg Times Chronicler - Thursday, June 28, 2001
[Extracts from]


by James Conant

One day after publicly announcing a messianic dream, Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has sent additional messianic shockwaves through the ultra-Orthodox community in Israel and the United States ... The Shas spiritual leader claims he can now forecast the arrival of the Messiah according to the frequency and veracity of his bowel movements.

The Rabbi told personal confidants of his latest mystical experience. Yosef later confirmed rumors of this latest interpretation on Shas radio. 'Solid stools indicated the strength of Ariel Sharon's policies, but lately, the stools have had a softer text, indicating Sharon's weakness and the possible arrival of the Messiah in this time of crisis,' Rabbi Ovadia Yosef told his listeners."

The Times - Tuesday 10 April 2001

Israeli rabbi calls on God to annihilate Arabs

From Sam Kiley in Jerusalem

THE spiritual leader of Israel's ultra-Orthodox Shas party has come under attack for a Passover sermon in which he called on God to annihilate Arabs.

"It is forbidden to be merciful to them, you must give them missiles, with relish - annihilate them. Evil ones, damnable ones," Ovadia Yosef was quoted in the Hebrew Maariv newspaper as telling a congregation attending prayers last weekend.

His party, which holds the balance of power in Israel's Knesset and is a key member of Ariel Sharon's national unity coalition, moved quickly to clarify his remarks, which included a plea to God to destroy Arabs.

Yitzhak Sudri, the party spokesman, insisted that the rabbi was referring only to "Arab murderers and terrorists", but Rabbi Yosef's comments revived memories of his recent description of Arabs as "snakes" amid complaints that the Palestinian Authority was tolerating incitement, which both sides agreed to ban under the 1993 Oslo Peace Accord.

"May the Holy Name visit retribution on the Arabs' heads, and cause their seed to be lost, and annihilate them, and cause them to be cast from the world," Rabbi Yosef, a former Chief Rabbi of Israel's Sephardi Jews, is reported to have said.

Associated Press - January 11, 1998 - Web posted at: 2:16 p.m. EST (1916 GMT)

JERUSALEM (AP) -- A leading ultra-Orthodox rabbi in Israel has ruled that it is permitted to pick your nose on the Jewish Sabbath, his aide said Sunday.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef delivered the ruling Saturday night in a sermon relayed by satellite to his followers in Israel and abroad.

The Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot had reported that Yosef had said nose-picking is forbidden because tiny hairs inside the nostrils might also be pulled out. But a viewing of a videotape of the event confirmed that Yosef had in fact ruled it was permitted.

Yosef is among a select group of rabbis who respond to questions from Jews -- serious or otherwise -- on the minutiae of applying Jewish law to daily life.

The Iraqi-born Yosef, a former chief rabbi in Egypt and Israel and a leading authority on Jewish law, is spiritual leader of the religious political party Shas, which has 10 seats in Israel's Parliament.

Washington Report pm Middle East Affairs
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2001, Pages 71-72

By Allan C. Brownfeld

"... The Halakhic instrument promoted by ultra-Orthodox rabbis, both in Israel and the U.S., that ultimately convinced Yigal Amir that he should kill Yitzhak Rabin was the ancient Jewish doctrine of zealotry. The doctrine maintains that under the most extreme circumstances, a God-loving Jew can kill another person without asking permission.

"The doctrine of zealotry goes back to the first biblical Jewish zealot-Pinchas Ben-Eleazar. As told in the Bible, Pinchas, acting in awe of God, killed Zimri, who had prostituted in public with a Midianite girl. Pinchas's problem was that the killing was totally unauthorized and he acted out of an uncontrollable momentary drive. And yet, in spite of the severity of the act, which was denounced, according to the Talmud, by the people's elders, it was forgiven by God. The reason given was that Pinchas "was zealous for my sake among them." God instantly terminated a plague that had already killed 20,000 Jews.

Pinchas' entire line of ancestors were made priests of Israel. The prophet Elijah is also described in the Bible as a zealot who killed in his wrath 400 priests of Baal, a Canaanite god. Yigal Amir convinced himself that in killing Rabin he was acting in the best tradition of Jewish zealotry.

"For the ultra-Orthodox, both in Israel and the U.S., a form of "messianic Zionism," which makes control over the biblical Land of Israel a religious mandate, has been growing. In his book, 'Terror in the Mind of God: the Global Rise of Religious Violence' , Professor Mark Juergensmayer notes that Jewish activists "have been convinced that their violent acts have been authorized as weapons in a divine warfare sanctioned by God. Dr. Baruch Goldstein's massacre at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron in 1994 was described as a military act. One of his supporters explained, 'It goes back to biblical times,' indicating that the present-day Arabs are simply the modern descendants of the enemies of Israel described in the Bible for whom God has unleashed wars of revenge ..."

Jewish Studies - Home Page - Leaflets