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Yitzhak Yosef

(1952 - )

Yitzhak Yosef 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. 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.

Yosef was born in 1952, the sixth son of Shas' spiritual leader, and former Israeli Chief Rabbi, Ovadia Yosef. 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 yeshivot.

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 the next decade. The inauguration took place on 14 August 2013 at the official residence of the President of Israel.

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

With the death of his father, Ovadia YosefShas lost its spiritual leader. Having been elected Sephardi Chief Rabbi, Yitzhak Yosef would appear to be in a healthy position to inherit the authority of his father as spiritual leader of Shas.

Sources: Rabbi Ratzon Arussi (Hebrew) (recorded lecture[starting at 00:50] at, posted Feb. 12, 2010).
Ettinger, Yair. "Religious Zionists could gain historic foothold in rabbinate". Haaretz. (September 24, 2008)
"New Chief Rabbis David Lau & Yitzchak Yosef Sworn In". Arutz Sheva. (August 14, 2013)
Sharon, Jeremy. "Chief Rabbis call on public to have children vaccinated,” Jerusalem Post (August 21, 2013)
Sharon, Jeremy. “Shas without Rabbi Ovadia Yosef,” Jerusalem Post (October 8, 2013)