Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, the most senior non-hassidic Ashkenazi haredi rabbi
and widely acknowledged among haredim as “leader of the generation,” visited
Beit Shemesh on Thursday night to rally the ultra-orthodox community ahead of
municipal elections on Tuesday.
Haredi mayor Moshe Abutbul, who has been
endorsed by Shteinman, is facing a tough challenge from independent candidate
Eli Cohen, and the rabbi’s visit was designed to raise morale and provide a
boost for voter turnout in the city.
The traditional haredi parties are
facing a separate challenge in the elections to the municipal council from the
Tov party, a new haredi faction that is seeking to garner votes from the more
integrated and moderate sector of the haredi community.
Finkel, dean of the renowned Mir Yeshiva and a member of the Council of Torah
Sages of Degel Hatorah, the mainstream haredi non-hassidic party, also spoke at
“The Jewish people has spiritual leaders to guide the
people. We listen to them, go in their pathways and do as they instruct,” said
“Moshe Abutbul listens to the rabbis and is observant of the
Torah. We are commanded to fulfill [the precept of] “faith in the righteous
ones” and vote for Chen and Moshe Abutbul,” instructed Finkel, quoting a
biblical verse interpreted as meaning to do as the rabbis say.
Hatorah MK Moshe Gafni was also present and equally urged the assembled crowd to
vote for Abutbul and Chen, the branch of Degel in Beit
Separately, a video was released on Thursday of Beit Shemesh
mayoral candidate Eli Cohen visiting the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
warmly received Cohen, who is traditional although not religiously observant,
and blessed him and thanked him for his public service.
previously served as an executive at the Mekorot water company and as a former
head of aliya for the Jewish Agency.
While working for the agency several
years ago, Cohen helped bring Jews from an Arab country to Israel. Some of the
immigrants were invited to see Yosef, along with Cohen, and the rabbi is seen
giving them and Cohen a blessing in the video.
Haredi political parties
have denounced Cohen as being secular and incorrectly accused him of seeking to
institute public transport and leisure activities in Beit Shemesh on Shabbat.
Stay on top of the news - get the Jerusalem Post headlines direct to your inbox!