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Birthday for Rabbi Ovadia Yosef

Eminent Torah scholar and Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef turns 90.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 9/19/2010, 7:27 PM / Last Update: 9/19/2010, 7:55 PM

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Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of Shas, turned 90 on Sunday. The rabbi spent the day going about his usual routine – praying at the synagogue near him home in Har Nof, Jerusalem, meeting members of the public in his private office, and learning Torah.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef was born in Baghdad on September 23, 1920, exactly 90 years ago on the Hebrew calendar. He came to Israel with his parents at the age of four and settled in Jerusalem.

He gained prominence for his Torah scholarship as a teenager, and by the age of 20 was ordained as a rabbi. For two years in the late 1940s he served as the deputy Chief Rabbi of Egypt.

For decades he served as a judge on courts of Torah law (batei din), moving from the Sephardic rabbinic court in Jerusalem to the Jerusalem municipal rabbinic court, and in 1965 to the country's highest Rabbinate court. He also wrote several books on Torah and Torah law.

In 1968 he became Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv. Two years later, at the age of 50, he was awarded the Israel Prize for Torah Culture. In 1973 he became Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel, and remained in the position until 1983.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is the spiritual leader of the Sephardi-hareidi Shas political faction. In 2005, a group of Palestinian Authority terrorists planned to assassinate him, but were arrested before they could carry out their plans.

He recently caused a storm by calling on G-d to “strike down” enemies of the Jewish people, including PA leaders. He later wished long life to those Arab leaders “who are partners to this important [peace] process and wish for its success.”