Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu
Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu photo: file

Former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu was rushed, once again, to the intensive care unit of Jerusalem's Shaarei Zedek Medical Center on Tuesday, just before noon. The rabbi's condition was described as "critical."

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the rabbi's son and the Chief Rabbi of Tzfat, told Arutz Sheva Radio that his father is currently on a respirator and in an induced coma. "We passed through the first stage," Rabbi Shmuel said, "and now they are helping him recuperate step by step."

Following emergency surgery and an extended hospitalization last month, Rabbi Eliyahu has been reporting to the hospital every morning for follow-up health checks. On Tuesday, the rabbi suffered a medical deterioration, and

The rabbi suffered a medical deterioration, and hospital staff had to revive him.

hospital staff had to revive him when he suddenly stopped breathing.

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu said that his father was "spared by a miracle" in that the medical emergency happened when the rabbi was at the hospital and undergoing a check up, rather than at home.

Rabbi Eliyahu's personal assistant, Rabbi Shmuel Zaafarani, asked the public to pray for a complete and speedy recovery for the rabbi, Rav Mordechai Tzemach ben [son of] Mazal Tov. Among other spiritual measures, Rabbi Zaafarani suggested reading the Book of Psalms individually or as a group, as well as reading the sections of Psalms 119 that correspond to the letters of Rabbi Eliyahu's name.

A large public gathering has been called for 5:00 pm Tuesday evening at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City, in order to pray for the rabbi's speedy recovery.

Jonathan Pollard Calls for 'Heartfelt Pleas'

From his jail cell in Butner, North Carolina, imprisoned American Jew and Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard dispatched an urgent message calling for prayers on behalf of Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, whom he regards as his spiritual guide.

Pollard wrote to Rabbi Pesach Lerner of the National Council of Young Israel, "The Rav needs an abundance of teffilot (prayers). We must storm the Heavens with our heartfelt pleas for mercy for Am Yisrael in the form of a a complete and speedy recovery for our beloved Rav, who has always been the Rav to all the People of Israel, without exception.

"...[Do] whatever you can to encourage people to daven [pray] as they have never davened before, with all of their hearts and with tears, for a swift and speedy Refuah Shleimah (complete healing and recovery)...."

The Rabbi Suffered a Heart Attack in April

Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu is considered one of the leading rabbinic figures of the religious-Zionist public in Israel. A noted kabbalist and scholar, Rabbi Eliyahu gives Torah lectures at the Heichal Yaakov synagogue in his Jerusalem neighborhood of Kiryat Moshe. He served as Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel, alongside his Ashkenazic colleague, the late Rabbi Avraham Shapira, from 1983 to 1993.

In late April, on the last day of Passover, Rabbi Eliyahu was rushed to Shaarei Zedek hospital after suffering a heart attack. He underwent a six-hour surgery, including a successful bypass operation. Before the incident, the rabbi had delivered his regular sermon during Friday night services in his synagogue and showed no signs of weakness. He was released from the hospital on May 11, after doctors decided his condition had sufficiently improved.

Several months ago, Rabbi Eliyahu underwent cataract surgery in both eyes and refrained from leaving his home until April, when he renewed his public appearances at his synagogue and at various functions.