Ovadia calls on Peres to protect ‘Torah world'

In a meeting with president, Shas spiritual leader says he has an obligation to protect the world of Torah.

Ovadia and Peres 370 (photo credit: Courtesy President’s Residence)
Ovadia and Peres 370
(photo credit: Courtesy President’s Residence)
Spiritual leader of the Shas political movement Rabbi Ovadia Yosef called on President Shimon Peres to help “save the Torah world” during a meeting held on Sunday.
The meeting was one of three conducted by President Shimon Peres in his traditional series of meetings on the intermediary days of Passover and Succot at the homes of the chief rabbis and Rabbi Yosef, a former chief rabbi who is considered one of the greatest authorities in Jewish law of his generation.
Yosef, along with the rest of the haredi spiritual world, are concerned with the threat to funding for religious studies and benefits enjoyed by the ultra-Orthodox world inherent in various clauses of the coalition agreement among Likud Beytenu, Yesh Atid and Bayit Yehudi.
“You are a person who unites the nation,” said Yosef to Peres.
“The public recognizes and appreciates you, you have an obligation in these days to protect the world of Torah.”
The plea was a repetition of a message sent by Yosef in a letter to Peres shortly after the election in January while preliminary coalition discussions were taking place.
Peres said in response that “we have to the guard the Torah so that the Torah guards us,” adding that he would do everything he could to help and that the issue was ingrained in his bones since the time his grandfather, who studied in the famous yeshiva of Volozhin in Poland, instructed his children to maintain their religious faith.
The President also spoke about the Passover festival noting that in Judaism, “values are more important than property and if we have possessions we have to invest them in our values.”
In the context of the state’s current challenges, Peres said that resources should be invested today to reduce socioeconomic gaps in Israeli society.
In his meeting with Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, Peres thanked the rabbi for his service of 10 years as chief rabbi, saying that he had brought “enlightenment to the people of Israel and had helped bring unity and honor to the Torah.”
Peres also expressed support for a second ten-year term for Amar. Currently, a chief rabbi may only serve one term but legislation is being now prepared to allow for a second term.
Like Yosef, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger also brought up the issue of proposed reforms to funding for the haredi community, expressing the hope that divisions between the ultra- Orthodox world and the broader public would not increase and calling on Peres to hold bridging meetings between the heads of different communities to help bridge the divides.
Said Peres, “It is upon us to preserve the unity of the Jewish people under a common denominator, first and foremost the Ten Commandments."