Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon continues to fight for his life at a Jerusalem hospital.

Mr. Sharon underwent a CAT scan Saturday to determine the condition of his brain. He took a turn for the worse on Friday, and was rushed into surgery to stop bleeding in the brain. It was his second operation since suffering a massive stroke on Wednesday. Doctor Shlomo Mor Yosef briefed reporters at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.

"According to the result of the CT scan, there is a slight improvement in the edema of the brain of the prime minister," said Shlomo Mor Yosef. "The left side of the brain looks better than the right side of the brain."

That is a good sign, doctors say, because the left side of the brain enables a person to talk. But Doctor Mor-Yosef warned that Mr. Sharon is not out of danger.

"So if I summarize the condition, it's critical and stable," he said.

Top doctors will meet at the hospital on Sunday to discuss Mr. Sharon's prognosis. If he remains stable for the next couple of days, doctors will try to wean him off sedation, and gradually arouse him from an induced coma to see how he responds. Then, they can determine the extent of brain damage.

So, an anxious nation watches and waits. Since Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath, Israel's chief rabbis instructed synagogues around the country to hold special prayers for the prime minister.

"We pray, may it be the will of our Father in heaven, that God will send His mercy to Ariel Sharon, to his family and to all those who are caring for him in this hour of great distress," he said.

The nation is slowly coming to terms with the idea that Mr. Sharon has probably left the political stage, after decades of service to the country as a general, war hero and politician. Medical experts believe he suffered significant brain damage. They say even if he survives, he will likely be incapacitated.