Speaking with Israel Radio on Tuesday morning, 20 Tishrei 5774, Rabbi Chaim Amsellem calls on the tzibur to continue being mispallel for Maran HaGaon HaRav Chaim Ovadia Yosef Shlita. Amsellem explains that if anything, Shas has made life more difficult for the Torah giant, stating with certainty “Without the rav, Shas has almost no right to exist for Shas is Rabbi Yosef and without him chas v’sholom, the party will vanish.”
Amsellem explains that he grew up in the rav’s shadow and despite the criticism against him; he knows what he is talking about.
What happens when Rav Ovadia is gone?
One must understand there is no one that can fit the shoes of this giant of a person. Someone on his caliber does not exist. A number of rabbonim will try to take the leadership or a part of it.
All Sephardim respect the rav, even those who do not hold by him or follow him but nevertheless, there is no one who does not respect the man who is a giant.
Amsellem continues, explaining the most likely scenario is Shas breaking into two or three parties, for there will not be any unity. He does not express much optimism for Shas as a political party without Rav Ovadia at the helm.
What about reports Rav Shlomo Amar will take his place?
Perhaps he can politically but not as a Torah giant, posek or a person with the depth of understanding of Rav Ovadia. We have already heard in response to the report there are elements in Shas that commented negatively on the report placing Rav Amar as the successor.
Without the rav Shas almost has no right to exist. He is shas and he is what people voted for and remained loyal to him. The nation’s respect for the rav is what keeps the party afloat, nothing else.
Remember, I grew up in the rav’s presence before Shas was around. There is a difference in Rav Ovadia the posek and Rav Ovadia the head of Shas. This is the reality of politics.
Shas in its creation targeted the tens and hundreds of thousands who were losing their way in the modern state as the rav tried to bring them back to their roots and tradition. That is why so many non frum voters backed Shas for their felt the connection to Rav Ovadia
Rabbi Amsellem concludes that the main thing today is to be mispallel for the gadol hador.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)