Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef was the subject of heavy criticism from
several quarters on Sunday after he called Tzohar chairman Rabbi David Stav, who
is running for Ashkenazi chief rabbi, “an evil man” who is “dangerous to Judaism
and the Torah.”
The Tzohar national-religious rabbinical association
strongly protested Yosef’s remarks and called on Yosef to “do repentance” for
his comments and to “ask for forgiveness” from Stav for the sin of embarrassing
a person in public.
“The Tzohar management protests the words of
incitement that were heard from Rabbi Ovadia Yosef against a great rabbi who has
devoted his life to the love of Torah through the Jewish people,” the
“The manner of his words, their content and the fact
that they were said by someone without making the smallest attempt to get to
know the man he is embarrassing in public testifies to the urgent need to change
the face of the rabbinate in Israel,” Tzohar continued.
people needs a rabbinate that knows how to connect it to Judaism and not to
cause hatred with curses and abuse.”
During his weekly Torah lesson given
from the synagogue in his residence on Saturday night, Yosef issued a fierce
attack against Stav, saying that he did not “fear heaven” and was “an evil
“Friends of his from his own party told me to my face that this man
is dangerous to Judaism, dangerous to the rabbinate and dangerous to the Torah,”
The rabbi’s comments came just days after he instructed Shas
MKs to block the so-called Amar bill, which was designed to allow serving
Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar to run for reelection, despite being over the
current age limit.
“Rabbi Amar is an upright and righteous man but they
are using his name to elect an evil man who is unfit to be anything,” Yosef
Amar had been seeking to seal a deal with Bayit Yehudi to gain the
party’s support for legislation allowing him to run for reelection for Sephardi
chief rabbi in return for his support for Stav as the Ashkenazi chief
Along with Tzohar, Education Minister Shai Piron, who is a strong
Stav supporter, spoke out against Yosef on Sunday, questioning the morality and
validity in Jewish law of such comments.
“Why? Why does Rabbi Ovadia
curse?!,” Piron wrote on his Facebook page.
“Does he think that brings
people closer to the Torah and Judaism? Does he think that to speak about
someone that he’s never met is ethical?! In accordance with Jewish law?!
Jewish?!” Further reactions and criticisms of Yosef’s comments came from several
Rabbi Haim Druckman, one of the most senior
figures in the national-religious world, said in comments to Ynet that Yosef had
“crossed all boundaries,” and recommended that the Shas leader review Jewish law
pertaining to what one is and is not permitted to say of someone in
Druckman blamed Yosef’s circle of advisors for inciting the rabbi
and causing him to disgrace himself.
“This also greatly pains my heart,
that those who see themselves as close to him do not spare his dignity
whatsoever, it seems,” he said.
Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the chief rabbi of
Safed and a possible candidate for Sephardi chief rabbi, said that he cried when
he heard about the comments.
Speaking to Israel Radio, Eliyahu, like
Druckman, also blamed Yosef’s close advisors for feeding him false information
Meanwhile on Sunday, the five members of the oversight
committee for the chief rabbi elections were approved in a cabinet
The official appointment of this body means that it is now no
longer possible to make any legislative changes to the process for electing the
chief rabbis and means that the Amar bill cannot be put forward.
election committee is in charge of supervising the electoral process. Its
members are: David Malka, a rabbinical judge in Petah Tikva and the chairman of
the committee; attorney Tzipi Finklestein; retired judge Sarah Frish; Avraham
Brisk, who was nominated by Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger; and Yaakov
Hadani, who was nominated by Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar.