Ben Dahan verbally abused at mourning tent for Rabbi Ovadia Yosef

Deputy Minister for Religious Services Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan tells Yosef’s sons about his meeting with the rabbi several weeks ago.

Eli Ben Dahan 370 (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Eli Ben Dahan 370
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Shas supporters verbally abused Deputy Religious Services Minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan outside the mourners tent for Rabbi Ovadia Yosef on Wednesday morning.
Ben-Dahan of Bayit Yehudi first entered the tent, sat with the Yosef’s sons and spoke with them about his meeting with the rabbi several weeks ago.
Upon leaving the tent, Shas devotees began to shout at Ben-Dahan, saying “Your yarmulke is a fake,” “Rabbi Ovadia cried because of you people for half a year,” and “Don’t mention his name.”
This is the second time Shas supporters attacked Ben-Dahan since Yosef’s death on Monday.
During the funeral procession for the rabbi that evening, other mourners jostled and verbally abused Ben-Dahan, along with Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel, also from Bayit Yehudi.
Ben-Dahan’s office said later that the deputy minister received numerous calls and messages from Shas supporters apologizing for the incident.
While paying his respects to Yosef’s sons, the deputy minister said that his meeting with the rabbi had been warm and that he had expressed friendship toward the national-religious community.
“You should know that I love you,” Ben-Dahan quoted Yosef as having said to him in their meeting in the middle of August, adding that the rabbi had commented on the “greatness” of former Sephardi chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu.
Yosef and Eliyahu were not on good terms while the latter, who died in 2010, was still alive.
Ben-Dahan added that at the inauguration ceremony for the chief rabbis at the President’s Residence on August 14, Yosef had said to him, “It’s very good that you came [to visit], very good.”
The Shas political and rabbinic leadership has repeatedly attacked Bayit Yehudi and the national-religious community in the past year, including comments made by Yosef during the general election campaign that Bayit Yehudi was the “home of non-Jews.”
At the enrobing ceremony last month for Sephardi Chief Rabbi and Yosef’s son Yitzhak Yosef, Rabbi Shalom Cohen, a member of Shas’ Council of Torah Sages, unleashed a withering attack against Ben- Dahan, who was in attendance.
The deputy minister nevertheless spoke about the importance of unity between the two parties when addressing Yosef’s sons in the mourning tent.
“It’s important that we know at the end of the day that ‘we are all sons of the same man,’ we have differences of opinion, but we are all brothers,” said Ben-Dahan. “We need to remember this and continue onward, in unity, for the sake of the Torah. This is what we are all interested in.”
A Bayit Yehudi source opined that it was clear from Ben- Dahan’s meeting with Yosef that the Shas spiritual leader had been “fed” hostile messages regarding the nationalreligious party by his circle of advisers and that the rabbi had been much more well disposed to the community than was apparent.
Hundreds of other visitors made their way to the mourning tent on Wednesday, including Labor and opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich, Transportation Minister Israel Katz, Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky and former Ashkenazi chief Rabbi Yona Metzger.