Shas's Torah Sages publish letter slamming Amsalem

"If he does not return [his mandate to Shas], he is a thief," the letter reads, telling readers to "stay away from this man and his opinions."

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A letter written by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef slamming MK Haim Amsalem for his "strange and heretical opinions" and calling for him to return his mandate to Shas appeared in the party's newspaper From Day to Day on Thursday.
"The Council of Torah Sages met with great sorrow [to discuss] the words of Haim Amsalem, who opened his mouth about our dear yeshiva students the whole world with their Torah," the letter, which is signed by the Council of Torah Sages, reads.
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"He cooked this dish in public in order to find favor in the eyes of those who hate Torah," it continues. "He, as a teacher, is kicking his rabbis. He is added to our troubles - peasants and haters of Torah sages - and caused a desecration of God's name."
The letter "demands from Mr. Amsalem, according to the Torah's law, to return his mandate to Shas...If he does not return it, he is a thief."
Earlier in the week, Amsalem refused to return his mandate, despite being told to do so by Yosef and his own rabbi, Rabbi Meir Mazuz.
The letter calls the MK "Mr. Amsalem," although he is a rabbi, and was previously addressed as such by Shas.
"Whoever cares about Torah should stay from this man...and from his strange and heretical opinions," the letter said, implying that Amsalem is excommunicated. "May God bring him back to religion and heal him."
The letter was signed by members of the Council of Torah Sages, and Mazuz added a message that "we already revealed our opinion that we have no part or connection with him."
Key to Amsalem’s approach, and perhaps what is most problematic to his party’s line, is his call on those who aren’t destined to be great Torah scholars and who have families to work, and not live on “shameful” allotments.
The recent proposed amendment to the economic arrangements bill that would provide special support to poor kollel students has yet to be approved.

Jonah Mandel contributed to this report.