Rav Avraham Yosef: Israeli Judges Can’t be Counted In A Minyan


Senior figures in the government or in the judicial system cannot join a prayer quorum, according to Holon’s Chief Rabbi Avraham Yosef, who is also a representative on the Chief Rabbinate Council and son Chcham Ovadia Yosef Shlita.

“It is forbidden to allow them to participate or to integrate them in any synagogue liturgy,” Rabbi Yosef said. “We must ignore their existence, as if they were just air.”

During the program on halachic issues he presents each morning on radio station Kol Chai, Rabbi Yosef addressed the question of who is worthy of serving as a Shliach Tzibur on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Whoever sends his children to learn in secular schools, he said, or brings his companions before courts which do not rule in accordance with the Torah, cannot take this role.

He also detailed what the judges in such courts should face: “The judge himself, even if he knows how to pray very well, even if he knows how to do everything excellently – from the moment he was appointed judge he made himself unworthy of joining a quorum,” Rabbi Yosef said. “Even if he promises that all his rulings will be in keeping with the Shulchan Aruch, he has still lifted his hand against the Torah of Moshe Rabbeinu and is not worthy of joining anything holy.”

Later, in response to a question from a visitor to the Moreshet website, Rabbi Yosef clarified that his ruling includes anyone working in the State Prosecutor’s Office or police investigation branch.

“Recently… some religious judges have been appointed with yarmulkes on their heads which makes it seem as if the court is ruling according to our holy Torah,” he said, adding that this was a gross distortion.

“According to our holy Torah, a single judge can never be appointed, and according to our holy Torah it is forbidden to sit in a court appointed by the State of Israel,” he continued. “The State of Israel rules and judges according to the laws of the nations… A man who fears God will keep away from a person like this – and not include him in any holy act or in any prayer.”

(Source: Ynet)


  1. Be wary of quoting YNET.

    I seriously doubt he used words such as “synagogue liturgy”. More likely he said they shouldn’t be counted for a minyan.

  2. Here is the quote…

    בנו של הרב עובדיה, רבה הראשי של חולון, פסק ברדיו “קול חי”: “מרגע שאדם התמנה להיות שופט – פסל עצמו להצטרף למניין”.

  3. My translation: From the moment a man accepts an appointment as a judge of the secular state courts, he invalidates himself from being counted as part of the minyan”

    Note that he could still daven with a minyan (not that many of the government’s judges would care to daven). Considering that many people hold one counts only Shomer Shabbos Jewish men for a minyan, this isn’t much of a hiddush. It says that being a judge for the Medinah’s courts is equivalent to watch TV on Shabbos or eating a cheeseburger.

  4. It is not a major chidush. The Shulchan Aruch (or one of the nosei keilim) say one who brings another to the non-Jewish courts may not serve as a shaliach tzibur (perhaps specifically during the Yamim Nora’i’m).

  5. Question to Rabbi Rav Avraham Yosef shlit’a: Doesn’t the liturgy of Kohl Nidrei open with: Ahl daas haMakom, v’ahl daas hakahal, bi’yeshivah shel maalah, uv’yeshiva shel matah, anu mattirin l’hispalel ihm ha’avarianim. We are actually commanded to allow them to daven with a kosher minyan. Are the judges and prosecuters of Eretz Yisroel’s secular courts, and its policemen worse than ha’avarianim?

  6. To: dovid2

    1. They can daven WITH a minyan. They cannot be counted FOR the minyan (according to what Rabbi Yosef said).
    2. You see from your quote that it requires a heter – anu matirin – to daven with them. להצטרף למניין means to count towards forming/completing a minyan not to welcome them into the shul and to let them daven with the tzibur.

  7. With all due respect, I think that the Rav has gone off the deep end.
    It take a Beis Din to exclude ANY Jew from being counted in a minyan.

  8. So let’s see. We can’t count Israeli Supreme Court Justice Neal Hendel in a minyan. That’s okay, he’s only a Flatbush Yeshiva/YU guy. Justice Elyakim Rubinstein didn’t even learn in a yeshiva, so he’s out of the minyan. And District Court Judge Menachem Finkelstein is a Bar Ilan guy, so he’s out. Now Justice Yitzchok Englard is a little more problematic since he is a graduate of Kfar HaRo’eh although he is hashkafically Chareidi.

    But former Supreme Court Justice Simcha Asaf learned at Telz and was musmach yadin yadin by Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer zt”l and Rav Eliezer Rabinowitz of Minsk zt”l,and Hagaon Rav Eliezer Gordon of Telz zt”l. And former Deputy Chief Justice Justice HaRav Menachem Elon shlit”a is a musmach of Yeshivas Hevron. So what, you wouldn’t say amen to their brochos because Rav Avraham Ovadia says so? You wouldn’t count them in a minyan? These are only some famous examples.

    With all due respect, R. Avraham Ovadia seems to be ignoring some very clear halachos in this regard and some very important facts. I would go so far as to say that he is allowing politics to supplant his halakhic judgment.