Yitzhak Yosef

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Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef
יצחק יוסף
Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel
Yitzhak Yosef.jpg
Other Rosh yeshiva of Yeshivat Hazon Ovadia
Talmudic scholar and recognized halakhic authority
Personal details
Born (1952-01-16) January 16, 1952 (age 66)
Jerusalem, Israel
Nationality Israeli

Yitzhak Yosef (Hebrew: יצחק יוסף‬), born January 16, 1952, is the Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, also known as the Rishon LeZion, the rosh yeshiva of Yeshivat Hazon Ovadia, and the author of a popular set of books on Jewish law called Yalkut Yosef.

Rabbi Yosef is the son of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, former Chief Rabbi of Israel, and bases his rulings on Jewish law on his father's methods of ruling.[1]

His books are considered foundational among large sectors of Sephardic Jews in Israel and the world. For these books, he has won the Rabbi Toledano Prize from the Tel Aviv Religious Council, as well as the Rav Kook Prize.

Early life and education[edit]

Yosef was born in 1952, the sixth son of the former Shas' spiritual leader and Israeli Chief Rabbi, Ovadia Yosef.[2] He went to school at Talmud Torah Yavneh in the Independent Education System. At age 12, he began his studies at the junior yeshiva of Porat Yosef in Katamon, Jerusalem. After that, he studied at Yeshivat HaNegev in Netivot, and from there, at Hebron Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

In 1971, when he was 18 and studying at Yeshivat HaNegev, he collected halakhic rulings from the five volumes of Yavia Omer, the book of his father's responsa, that had been published by then, and published them in the book Yalkut Yosef. The book was published with his father's support and supervision. It is often considered one of his father's books because it is a summary of his father's rulings, since he went over it section by section and added his comments.


In 1973, with his father's election as Chief Rabbi of Israel, together they established the Kollel Hazon Ovadia. In 1980, he was ordained as a rabbi and judge, along with the rest of the first class of the graduates, by the chief rabbis of Israel and by chief rabbi of Jerusalem Shalom Messas. With the beginning of the second class, he was appointed head of the school.

In 1975, he was appointed rabbi of the moshavim Nes Harim and Mata, both near Jerusalem, and began to deliver classes on halakhah several times a week and care for other Jewish matters in the villages. As part of his responsibilities, he gave lectures and classes in the secular public schools and strengthened religious education there.

In 1992, he expanded Hazon Ovadia to a yeshiva for boys high school age and older. This was necessary because of unrest among the Sephardi Haredi community stemming from disagreements with the Ashkenazi Litvak yeshiva.

On July 24, 2013, Rabbi Yosef was elected to serve as Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel and Rishon Lezion, a position he will hold for a decade. The inauguration took place on 14 August 2013 at the official residence of the President of Israel.[3]

With the death of his father, Ovadia Yosef, the Shas political party lost its spiritual leader. Having been elected Sephardi Chief Rabbi, Yitzhak Yosef appeared to be in a healthy position to inherit the authority of his father as spiritual leader of Shas. But since he holds a position of public office, he is prohibited by law from being politically active. Until the election, he never held any formal public office.[4]

On August 21, 2013, Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef released a psak Halacha stating it is an obligation and mitzvah for parents to have their children vaccinated for polio virus.[5]


Interactions between religious and non-religious family members[edit]

Yosef has called for religious Jews to keep their children from secular or merely traditionally Jewish members of their family. Religious children should not meet these relatives, he notes, because they may be a negative influence.[6]

Extra-judicial executions[edit]

When IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot explained to military staff that rules of engagement must respect the law, and soldiers should not kill an attacker who has been subdued, Yosef contradicted him. He encouraged soldiers to kill anyone who comes to attack them and not worry about legal or military repercussions.[7]

Later he tempered his comments, adding, "If they no longer have a knife, they must be put in prison for life until the Messiah comes and says who are Amalekites, and then we can kill them."[8][9]

Non-Jews in Israel[edit]

In March 2016, Yosef said in weekly Saturday night lecture on Channel 10, "According to Jewish law, gentiles should not live in the Land of Israel".

He added, "If a non-Jew does not agree to take on the seven Noahide Laws, we should send him to Saudi Arabia. “If our hands were strong, if we had governing power, then non-Jews shouldn’t live in the Land of Israel”, Yosef added. “But our hands aren’t strong. We’re awaiting our righteous Messiah, who will be the true and complete redemption, and then they’ll do this.” he further added that non-Jews are allowed in Israel to serve the Jewish population.[10][11] Leaders of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) strongly condemned his statements and called for their retraction. Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO and national director, and Carole Nuriel, ADL Israel acting director, called the rabbi's statements about non-Jews ignorant and intolerant.[12]

On December 7, 2016, however, Yosef reversed his previous position and, along with his counterpart David Lau, issued a new policy required that foreign Jewish converts be recognized in Israel and vowed to release criteria recognizing rabbis who perform such conversions.[13]


  1. ^ Rabbi Ratzon Arussi said (Hebrew) "יש לציין, שהאריך בענין הזה, בטוב טעם ודעת, הרב יצחק יוסף בנו של הרב עובדיה יוסף, שכידוע, שכל פסקיו הם כפסקי אביו" (recorded lecture [starting at 00:50] at http://net-sah.org/en/node/19263, posted Feb. 12, 2010).
  2. ^ Ettinger, Yair (September 24, 2008). "Religious Zionists could gain historic foothold in rabbinate". Haaretz. Retrieved 2009-05-05. 
  3. ^ "New Chief Rabbis David Lau & Yitzchak Yosef Sworn In". Arutz Sheva. 14 August 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  4. ^ http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Shas-without-Rabbi-Ovadia-Yosef-328124
  5. ^ "Chief Rabbis call on public to have children vaccinated". 
  6. ^ Chief Rabbi: Keep children away from secular family YNET News, March 13, 2016
  7. ^ Sephardi Chief Rabbi Says non-Jews Forbidden From Living in the Land of Israel Haaretz, March 28, 2016.
  8. ^ Chief Sephardi Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef raises controversy Israel Hayom, March 28, 2016
  9. ^ 'Chief rabbi: Non-Jews shouldn’t be allowed to live in Israel,' The Times of Israel 28 March 2016.
  10. ^ "Sephardi Chief Rabbi Says non-Jews Forbidden From Living in the Land of Israel". Haaretz. 28 March 2016. Retrieved 28 March 2016. 
  11. ^ "Chief rabbi: Non-Jews shouldn't be allowed to live in Israel". The Times of Israel. 28 March 2016. Retrieved 28 March 2016. 
  12. ^ Non-Jews are forbidden by Jewish law to live in Israel, chief rabbi says the Jerusalem Post, March 28, 2016
  13. ^ http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.757795

External links[edit]

Jewish titles
Preceded by
Shlomo Amar
Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel