Shteinman supports Lau for Ashkenazi chief rabbi

Ovadia Yosef and Shas have yet to decide whom to back for Sephardi chief rabbi position.

June 26, 2013 22:59
2 minute read.

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 Israel.

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 national-religious candidate.

Meanwhile, Yosef and Shas have yet to decide whom to back for the position of Sephardi chief rabbi.

Two of 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.

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