AHARON LEIB SHTEINMAN 370.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, the country’s most senior Ashkenazi haredi rabbi,
has publicly backed Rabbi David Lau to be the next Ashkenazi chief rabbi of
Shteinman has instructed Degel HaTorah MKs to work toward the
election of Lau, the chief rabbi of Modi’in, in the electoral committee for the
chief rabbis. Degel HaTorah, part of United Torah Judaism, has three MKs, Moshe
Gafni, Uri Maklev and Ya’acov Asher.
Unlike the protracted wrangling that
took place for political endorsement among national religious rabbis for the
position, Shteinman’s support for Lau comes after little internal competition
for the rabbi’s backing.
Earlier this week, potential candidate Rabbi
Yitzhak David Grossman announced he would not be running, thus paving the way
for Lau’s endorsement.
Grossman would have been the preferred candidate
for the haredim given his broad public appeal across the religious sectors of
society, but he declined to run citing concerns for his educational and social
guidance charitable network.
Lau visited Shteinman on Wednesday afternoon
to receive his blessing for his candidacy.
On Tuesday, Rabbi Yaakov
Shapira, the dean of the national-religious Merkaz Harav Yeshiva, also declared
his candidacy for the position.
Shapira is on the conservative wing of
the national-religious movement and was hoping to gain the endorsement of the
haredi rabbinic leadership. Although Shteinman has now endorsed Lau, Shapira is
considered close to Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and will be hoping
to gain his backing.
If Yosef were to endorse Shapira, it would split the
haredi vote for Ashkenazi chief rabbi in the 150-member electoral committee and
could assist the campaign of Shoham Chief Rabbi David Stav, the
Meanwhile, Yosef and Shas have yet to
decide whom to back for the position of Sephardi chief rabbi.
Yosef’s sons, Rabbi Avraham Yosef, the chief rabbi of Holon, and Rabbi Yitzhak
Yosef, the author of a comprehensive work on Jewish law called Yalkut Yosef, are
contending for their father’s endorsement.
A source in the Shas party
told The Jerusalem Post that he believed Ovadia Yosef would most likely back
Avraham as his candidate for the position for two reasons: firstly because
Ovadia Yosef has already selected Yitzhak to be a candidate for the position of
chief Sephardi rabbi of Jerusalem – although that process has been stuck for
several years in the courts.
The Shas official said that another factor
for Ovadia Yosef is that Avraham Yosef is older than Yitzhak.