Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu
Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu Israel news photo: Flash 90

Prayers for the health of Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, the former Rishon LeTzion (Head Sephardic Rabbi) began nationwide Thursday evening. The Rabbi has been in Shaare Tzedek Hospital's Intensive Care Unit for eight months.

“The situation is unpleasant,” the Rabbi's son, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu of Tzfat (Safed), told Arutz Sheva. “Since the month of Elul [August-September] the Rabbi is in the hospital and he is undergoing very severe suffering. There has been no drastic deterioration in his condition, but such a long stay in the hospital leads to a gradual deterioration, and suddenly one takes notice of the fact that things are moving backward and not forward.”

"The situation is far from simple,” he commented. “We want to reach a situation in which the Rabbi is fully healthy. Thank G-d he is fully conscious, thank G-d his body is whole, but one cannot go on in this constant suffering. A wound opens, a wound closes, these are not simple matters. This is not a specific one-time deterioration in his condition but it is definitely a deterioration.” 

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu called on the public to partake in prayers for his father. “We have seen more than once the power of prayers,” he said. “Just as prayers can save from death to life, so certainly can they put a person back on his feet.”

Tens of thousands are expected to pray for Rabbi Eliyahu, whose full name as used in prayers for health is Mordechai Tzemach Ben Mazal. Prayers began at 6:00 p.m. at the Kotel Plaza in Jerusalem, and also at the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai in Meron, in northern Israel, and on the tomb of the Baba Sali in Netivot, in Israel's south.

Rabbi Naftali Roth, an esteemed rabbi from the Chabad stream, will also participate in the prayers. He issued an impassioned plea to members of Chabad to join the prayers in one of the prayer locations. Those who cannot make it to the location of the public prayer should enter their local synagogues and recite Psalms, he said.