Ovadia and Peres 370.
(photo credit: Courtesy President’s Residence)
Spiritual leader of the Shas political movement Rabbi Ovadia Yosef called on
President Shimon Peres to help “save the Torah world” during a meeting held on
The meeting was one of three conducted by President Shimon Peres
in his traditional series of meetings on the intermediary days of Passover and
Succot at the homes of the chief rabbis and Rabbi Yosef, a former chief rabbi
who is considered one of the greatest authorities in Jewish law of his
Yosef, along with the rest of the haredi spiritual world, are
concerned with the threat to funding for religious studies and benefits enjoyed
by the ultra-Orthodox world inherent in various clauses of the coalition
agreement among Likud Beytenu, Yesh Atid and Bayit Yehudi.
“You are a
person who unites the nation,” said Yosef to Peres.
recognizes and appreciates you, you have an obligation in these days to protect
the world of Torah.”
The plea was a repetition of a message sent by Yosef
in a letter to Peres shortly after the election in January while preliminary
coalition discussions were taking place.
Peres said in response that “we
have to the guard the Torah so that the Torah guards us,” adding that he would
do everything he could to help and that the issue was ingrained in his bones
since the time his grandfather, who studied in the famous yeshiva of Volozhin in
Poland, instructed his children to maintain their religious faith.
President also spoke about the Passover festival noting that in Judaism, “values
are more important than property and if we have possessions we have to invest
them in our values.”
In the context of the state’s current challenges,
Peres said that resources should be invested today to reduce socioeconomic gaps
in Israeli society.
In his meeting with Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar,
Peres thanked the rabbi for his service of 10 years as chief rabbi, saying that
he had brought “enlightenment to the people of Israel and had helped bring unity
and honor to the Torah.”
Peres also expressed support for a second
ten-year term for Amar. Currently, a chief rabbi may only serve one term but
legislation is being now prepared to allow for a second term.
Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger also brought up the issue of proposed reforms
to funding for the haredi community, expressing the hope that divisions between
the ultra- Orthodox world and the broader public would not increase and calling
on Peres to hold bridging meetings between the heads of different communities to
help bridge the divides.
Said Peres, “It is upon us to preserve the unity
of the Jewish people under a common denominator, first and foremost the Ten