Shas: Olmert fabricated blessing from Rabbi Ovadia

Shas claims Olmert pretended to receive special blessing from Ovadia in an effort to boost imself politically.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef 224.8 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef 224.8
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pretended to receive a special blessing from Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in an effort to boost himself politically on the eve of Wednesday's publication of the Winograd Report, Shas officials said Tuesday. Olmert's office released a statement early Tuesday to a select group of reporters that Yosef called Olmert and gave him a blessing, wishing him well ahead of Winograd. "Do not fear and do not lose resolve, for I am with you," the rabbi told the prime minister, according to the statement. The Final Winograd Report: All the latest news and analyses Reporters immediately called Shas officials asking what the significance of the blessing was and whether it had a biblical context with a deeper meaning. A check of a biblical concordance revealed that the words "do not fear and do not lose resolve" appear in Deuteronomy and Joshua, but the purported quote in its entirety does not appear in the Bible. Shas officials were asked whether Yosef was hinting at Shas's red lines by referring to Deuteronomy chapter one, verse 21, in which Moses asks the Israelites not to fear possessing the land of Israel. Or perhaps he was delivering some message about the Second Lebanon War by referring to Joshua 8:1, in which God tells Joshua not to fear conquering the city of Ai. The Shas officials laughed at the questions and referred them to the Prime Minister's Office. They said Yosef made no such statement to the prime minister and that "the rabbi doesn't use that line." "The real story is that Olmert requested that the rabbi call him to wish him well," a Shas official said. "The call lasted a minute. For most of the conversation, the rabbi warned Olmert not to divide Jerusalem and reiterated the decision of the Shas Council of Torah Sages that the party would leave the coalition if Jerusalem were negotiated. At the end of the call, the rabbi cordially wished Olmert well, but did not give him a blessing." The Shas officials said they were not surprised by the request for a blessing, but they were shocked to hear the way the conversation was reported on the radio a few minutes after Olmert and Yosef got off the phone. Olmert's office responded that the blessing did indeed take place and they insisted that the conversation was initiated by the rabbi. They also said the call lasted "several minutes" and not just a minute as claimed by Shas. At Monday's Kadima faction meeting, Olmert made a gesture to Shas by accepting the party's demand that the Jerusalem issue be delayed until the end of the diplomatic process.