Revered spiritual leader of Shas party promises "Garden of Eden" for Shas voters in blessing cards distributed day of elections..
(photo credit: KIKAR HASHABBAT)
The keys to heavenly paradise are yours if you vote Shas. That at least is the message from beyond the grave of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the late, revered spiritual leader of the Shas party, which has appeared on cards being handed out to voters by party activists today.
The card bears on one side an image of a a golden key and on the other side the words a picture of Yosef with the phrase “The word of Maran [Yosef]: Whoever votes Shas goes to straight to the Garden of Eden.
Distributing amulets, promising blessings as a result of voting for a certain party or threatening curses for voting for the ‘wrong’ party or all forbidden by the Law for Knesset Elections.
An appeal against the distribution of the cards was upheld by the chairman of the Central Elections Committee Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran on Tuesday and the party was banned from handing them out.
Shas has however however been using several other means to reach out to their potential voters to inform them of how Yosef would want them to vote.
A message sent out by SMS and WhatsApp to voters reads “Maran Rabbi Ovadia Yosef: I won’t forgive someone who does not vote Shas, not in this world and not in the world to come.”
The message included a link to a YouTube video in which Yosef, who died in October 2013, can be seen and heard saying those exact words.
The video was most likely recorded during the January 2013 elections when rebel Shas MK Rabbi Haim Amsallem and Sephardi haredi preacher Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak both ran their own political parties in the election, taking several tens of thousands of votes away from Shas.
In another instance, Shas activists handed out a sign-up sheet for receiving blessings for those who vote Shas. This was also banned by the Central Elections Committee.
Shas issued an official response to the CEC ruling, saying that prayers, and amulets were “an inseparable part of the traditions of the majority of the citizens of the state.
“We are proud of our traditions, enough with this incitement and attempts to silence us,” the party said.
Director of the Hiddush religious freedom lobbying group Reform Rabbi and attorney Uri Regev condemned Shas’ violations of electoral law saying that “although Shas posters show Maran [Yosef] looking down from above, in reality he doesn’t know where to bury himself from embarrassment.”
“It’s doubtful whether anyone else has displayed such contempt to the intelligence of voters as have those who distribute amulets and threats,” said Regev, adding that the practice would not be stamped out until parties are given significant fines for violating such laws.