Rabbi Ovadia Yosef 'Fighting for His Life'

Family rush to ailing rabbi's bedside as his condition takes a turn for the worse; prayers urged for Ovadia Haim ben Georgia.

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Ari Soffer,

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's family have said that his condition has deteriorated further since this morning, and have rushed to the bedside of the ailing rabbi at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital.

Hospital officials will be issuing an update on the rabbi's situation at 4pm local time.

Earlier today, Shas MK Eli Yishai has called on Israelis to continue praying for the recovery of the party's spiritual head and leading Sephardic scholar Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Ovadia Haim ben Georgia).

He made the call following an emotional visit to the bedside of the ailing rabbi at Jerusalem's Hadassa Ein Kerem Hospital, where he has been hospitalized since undergoing surgery to implant a pacemaker on Sunday.

That operation went well, but the next day, following successful dialysis treatment, Rabbi Yosef's condition rapidly deteriorated after doctors discovered fluid in his lungs. He was put on a respirator and his condition has been downgraded as serious but stable.

 In an interview with Kol Rama radio, Shas MK Eli Yishai, who is a close confidant of the rabbi, described his feelings of sadness at seeing his poor health during a hospital visit Tuesday.

"It is very difficult to see him like that. Right now his condition is stable but difficult," he said.

A tearful Yishai said it was particularly hard for him to see Rabbi Yosef in such poor health as he "is like a father to me."

MK Yishai called Rabbi Yosef an outstanding leader and an huge inspiration, and said that despite his sadness he was inspired to see so many Jews - young and old, religious and secular alike - join together to pray for him.

In contrast to reports this morning that Rabbi Yosef's condition had improved slightly, the hospital has released a statement saying that his condition is still very serious, though relatively stable at the moment.

As is customary in cases of life-threatening illnesses, the name "Haim" (meaning "life" in Hebrew) has been added to Rabbi Yosef's name, and his family have asked people to continue praying for Ovadia Haim ben Georgia.