Rabbi Shteinman attends Beit Shemesh election rally

October 18, 2013 00:22

Haredi mayor Moshe Abutbul, who has been endorsed by Shteinman, is facing a tough challenge from independent candidate Eli Cohen.

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RABBI AHARON LEIB SHTEINMAN 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

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.

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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.

Rabbi Arieh 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 gathering.

“The Jewish people has spiritual leaders to guide the people. We listen to them, go in their pathways and do as they instruct,” said the rabbi.

“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.

Degel 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 Shemesh.

Separately, a video was released on Thursday of Beit Shemesh mayoral candidate Eli Cohen visiting the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

Yosef warmly received Cohen, who is traditional although not religiously observant, and blessed him and thanked him for his public service.

Cohen has 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.

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