Rabbi Ovadia's blessing to Shas voters nixed

Central Elections Committee shelves ad containing misheberach blessing to all Shas voters.

ovadia yosef, eli yishai 248 88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
ovadia yosef, eli yishai 248 88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Shas pulled a radio advertisement on Tuesday that the Central Elections Committee (CEC) said violated the rule forbidding offering blessings in exchange for votes, as the party once again ran afoul of campaign rules forbidding spiritual bribery. In the advertisement, the party's spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is heard offering a blessing to the party's voters, in which he states that "all who vote for Shas will receive a blessing, along with their wives, children, students and entire families, and God will endow them with happiness and good health." The ad was never actually broadcast, as the CEC, which reviews all campaign ads, issued its warning at the review stage. Shas withdrew the ad and began to prepare another one. Shas chairman Eli Yishai slammed the decision, saying, "A judiciary dictatorship cannot prevent Rabbi Ovadia Yosef from blessing the people of Israel. "The propaganda law is being trampled and in the Jewish state there are those who would carry out a targeted strike against Jewish tradition by preventing a rabbi's blessing during difficult times," he said. Last month, secular parties complained that Shas had violated election laws forbidding the distribution of amulets when, during Operation Cast Lead, they handed out thousands of flyers with a prayer for IDF soldiers. The flyers included pictures of deceased Sephardi sages like the Baba Sali and Rabbi Yitzhak Kadourie and a blessing intended for the soldiers, alongside the Shas logo. "Our soldiers give their souls, and without them we would not be able to learn Torah," the flyers read. "Therefore, everyone must pray for them." Shas ran afoul of this same election law most famously in 1996, when it handed out amulets (kame'ot) and memorial candles blessed by Kadourie, one of the country's foremost kabbalists. Meretz objected, requesting that the CEC issue an injunction against the party. The party eventually complied with then-CEC chairman Theodor Orr's recommendation to cease distribution.