Aliza Bloch, Beit Shemesh religious-Zionist mayoral-candidate, October 2018.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Shas Party spiritual leader Rabbi Shalom Cohen said haredi (ultra-Orthodox) men and women who voted for Aliza Bloch in the Beit Shemesh mayoral election are destined for the toilets in the afterlife.
It appears that several thousand haredi voters cast their ballots for Bloch in the majority-haredi city, which led to her narrow win over incumbent mayor and Shas representative Moshe Abutbul. That shocked the haredi community and represents a stinging defeat for the haredi political party.
At a Shas Party post-election rally on Saturday night in Jerusalem, Cohen spoke of Abutbul’s defeat. He referenced the many complaints of regarding poor garbage collection in the city, one of several serious complaints against Abutbul’s administration.
“They say that Moshe Abutbul did not deal with keeping the streets clean. I spit on you, I spit on you!” declared Cohen in footage captured by the Kikar HaS-habbat haredi news website.
“The things of Torah which he did, is there anything more clean than this? In the world to come they [Bloch voters] will be put in clean toilets. How can a God-fearing person who puts on tefillin in the morning not know how to weigh between this one and that one?” Cohen demanded, calling the mayor’s defeat at the hands of Bloch “an embarrassment and a disgrace.”
Abutbul was endorsed by all the leading rabbis across haredi society, including Cohen as the spiritual leader of Shas, as well as the most senior Ashkenazi non-hassidic and hassidic rabbis.
That so many haredim apparently voted against Abutbul or chose not to vote – in spite of instructions by the rabbis to the contrary – has been seen as a testament to the low regard for Abutbul’s management of the city, as well a certain weakening of rabbinic authority.
Cohen’s comments are a reaction to the message some haredim sent to their political and rabbinic leaders by voting for Bloch: Some issues are more important than the rabbis’ edicts.
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