Several Bayit Yehudi MKs are pushing the party to form its own version of Shas’s
Council of Torah Sages to advise the faction on matters related to religion, The
Jerusalem Post learned on Saturday night.
“Bayit Yehudi comes from a
place of Torah,” MK Motti Yogev explained, saying the council would be a forum
to discuss religious law, whose advice would be sought in the same way an
economist would be on economic matters.
“It would be a varied group of
rabbis chosen by consensus in the party. Ideally, they would be led by Rabbi
Chaim Druckman, whose authority is accepted by most religious Zionists,” Yogev
said. “Quite a few matters of Halacha are expected to come up in the Knesset,
and it would be the right thing to do to have some rabbis give advice to the
The council was the topic of a heated argument between members
of the faction last week. Tekuma director-general Nachi Eyal proposed the idea,
and MKs Yogev, Yoni Chetboun and Orit Struck outspokenly supported
Tekuma was one of the parties that made up the National Union in the
last Knesset, and joined Bayit Yehudi’s list before last January’s
The party is associated with “hardal” (haredi Zionist) rabbis
who are more religiously conservative.
Bayit Yehudi and Tekuma have yet
to officially merge. Struck is a Tekuma member, but Yogev and Chetboun are
The MKs tried to bring up the proposal at Monday’s faction meeting,
which was closed to the press, but were repeatedly denied by faction chairwoman
Ayelet Shaked, who pointed out that the topic was not on the
Struck accused “parts of the faction,” likely meaning Shaked and
party chairman Naftali Bennett, of trying to make decisions for all of its MKs
without discussing matters.
“Let’s leave the Council of Torah Sages to
Shas,” Bennett’s office said in response to an inquiry about the proposal on
Yogev defended the proposal on Saturday night, saying
that Bayit Yehudi’s religious-Zionist political predecessor, the National
Religious Party, always sought the advice of rabbis on religious matters as well
as of professionals in other areas.
In the past, the National Religious
Party had a council of rabbis whose decisions were non-binding and which could
not release press releases or make statements to the media.
like Shas, which asks the Council of Torah Sages about every single thing, or
like one rabbi who decides for Agudat Yisrael and Degel Hatorah [the parties
making up United Torah Judaism],” Yogev explained. “Some can accept the rabbis’
positions and others might not and if someone wants to consult with them on
other [not religious] issues, he is free to.”
As for the arguments in the
faction meeting, Yogev said he did not know in advance that the proposal would
come up, but once it did, he expressed support.
Still, he added, “we’re
not there yet,” and there are many other, more urgent topics on the faction’s
“I’m sure Bennett is angry that this story got out,” a party
source said of the proposal.
“This isn’t the first time it’s been
discussed, but it’s the first time they made a scene about it. If it’s going to
be like Shas, most of the faction won’t be in favor of that.”
are undecided and could be swayed to support the proposal if the rabbis with
whom they were associated would be on the council, the source said.
source also said that a decision was unlikely to be made until after Tekuma and
Bayit Yehudi formally merged, which won’t happen until after this week’s