Political leaders on Monday afternoon expressed their sorrow and condolences over the passing of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that “Rabbi Yosef was a giant in Torah and Jewish law, and a guide for tens of thousands. He labored to enhance the religious traditions of the Jewish people. His religious decisions reflected the reality of life in the renewed state of Israel.
“He was filled with love of Torah and love of the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said. “I greatly appreciated his warm personality and his honest path. I always learned something when I met with him. The Jewish people has lost one of the sages of the generation.”
Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett said that “the religious public and the Jewish people are wrapped in suffering. Rabbi Yosef paved new paths in sensitivity and in relating to his fellow Jews, and to their relationship with G-d. He was one of the spiritual giants of the last generation, a model of sensitivity in matters of Jewish law, who merited to give over his teachings to the masses of the Jewish people for some 70 years.”
Education Minister Shai Peron said that “Rabbi Yosef was a unique sage, in both his rendering of decisions of Jewish law and his leadership. He left behind an indelible mark on the state of Israel. His decisions and teachings will continue to guide the Jewish people for generations to come.”
Opposition leader Shelly Yechimovich added that “Rabbi Yosef's loss is a great one for his followers. At a time like this different people learn different lessons from the life of such a man. The lesson I choose to learn is his solid support – to the dismay of many – for peace, placing the value of human life above all.” In 1994, Shas, based on Rabbi Yosef's decision, abstained from the government vote on approving the Oslo Accords, after Rabbi Yosef ruled that, if the country's political and military leaders deemed it preferable to give up land in order to save Jewish lives, that was what the country should do.
Also expressing sorrow over Rabbi Yosef's passing was Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas, who said that “I met with members of the Rabbi's family in Ramallah. I would like to express my condolences and the condolences of the Palestinian people on the occasion of his passing.” Abbas made the comments during a meeting in Ramallah with leftist MKs, led by Labor MK Hilik Bar.