To those of you who were in Israel, and caught the local news in English, and to those of you abroad, who might caught an item on your newes rgarding Israel this week, and saw a mass of people dress in their finest, weeping uncontrollably, jamming the streets of Jerusaelm.
To those who witnessed young men apparently prostate, jump and lay in an open grave, and ask themseslves if Israel has been occupied by Iran, or the Palestinian Hamas, the answer is simple.
They have witnessed the end of an era. Rabbi Haim(The name was added as a good omen for longevity) Obadaiah Yoseph passed away, age 93. He wasd the leader of Shash, one time the greatest religious party, how he came to be revered and vilified?
The answer lies first in the years before Israel became a state. Born in 1920, Yoseph stood out, in the late 30’s-early 40’s, when he became a scholar, a brilliant talented man, who was elevated over the years to a trustworthy positions. 1948 caught him in Egypt, where he was the chief secretary of the local Rabbi.
Since 1950, he returned to Israel, appointed as the chief Rabbi of Tel-Aviv, than and now the secular bastion of Israel, he manage to be both conservative and lenient, knew how to wield power in such a way, that appealed to the secular majority.appointed with rabbi Shelomo Goren, (formerly the Army Rabbi of Israel), to the coveted potion of chief Separdi Rabbi, he managed to suprise everyone, by continuing his moderate and compromising ways, acknowledging the October War widdows as such, he allowed them to remarry, he proclaimed the Ethipoian Jews as jews from the Dan Tribe, thus allow them to settle in Israel, he could’ve been settled with that.
However his enemies, among them former Rabbi Eliahu Nissim and his son Moses, whoo became the Secretary of Justice in 1977, having been a Likkud Member, conspired to oust him from his position, they did, and in 1983, he was forced to retire. Thus, in this year an angred and mentally bruised Rabbi Yoseph, plotted his vengeance..
In 1983, the situation of the Orthjodox Sepharadic Jweery in Israel was , and to some degree is, at his lowest ebb. Segregation, arrogance from the European Orthodox Jweish community in Israel, deprived economically, and lack of political means to express themselves, all of which pushed them further and further from the Orthodox Jwewery, many of them preferd Begin’s Likkud, Rabbi Eliezer Sach, a Lithuanian Jewish Rabbi, an important figure in the Orthodox establishment,, with enough political acumen, realized that any loss of votes, will jeopardize the Orthodox Jewish parties in the Israeli Parliament, he knew Yoseph’s pride was shaken, and appeal to him with a request- why not assisting the Sepharadi Orthodox Jews, form a pary, and let her be the magnet for the traditional and orthodox Sepharadi Jews alike?
The new party”Sasch”(its name comes from the six books of the Mishna- the codex of Jurist& Ordinance books, comprised the element of Jewish Community from the earliest middle ages to this day), was formed in 1983, within two years she became one of the largest political parties in Israel, masses of Sepharadic Jews flocked to it, they became kingmakers, power brockers, all along the 1980’s-1990’s they maintain their vigil and untold power over the Israeli Politics.
At first, they were moderate politically, but from the late 90’s onwards, they became more hawkish, their parochial and utterly conservative outlook hampered any progress, whether religious, social, economical, cultural, and educational
But their power brought corruption, detached from their followers, the did nothing to better their constituency’s position, and worse- They made the Rabbi Yoseph a small time politician, the intelletual Jewish Giant became nothing than a small time provincial hack, the kind of councilman and aldreaman you saw in countless jokes, comedies, and satires.
Worse, they became utterly dependable upon the Lithuanian Jewish establishment, they couldn’t utter an indepndent thought, thus they strengthen the segregation rather than dismantle and smashed it altogether.
Last election, brought a new party Yesh Atid, her leader Yair Lapid, following his father’s Yoseph Lapid’s secular footsteps vetoed the idea, of a religious political parties in the coalition, just like his father torpedoed Sach, and exiled her to the political desrt of a futile opposition.
The death of Rabbi Yoseph, in conclusion, did npothing to the Orthodiox Separadic Jewes, they are still poor, still suffred from racial indignities, and worse- they atre econoimically still struggle to find their mobility upwards, a mobility who still eludes them, and it’s sad and tragic situatiuon , that one Rabbi couldn’t change it.