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28.11.2014
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After verbal tirade by Yosef, Stav is physically attacked
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Dr. Haim Shine

Leave Ovadia alone

My heart goes out to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. In his old age, he has become an embarrassment to his former glory and brilliance, which he labored for many years to develop. The rabbi is like a man who plowed and harvested his entire life and then suddenly sparked a fire that consumed his entire granary.

The rabbi's close associates as well as Shas politicians are taking advantage of his naivete to sick him against other rabbis, on politicians, on the people of Israel -- all for their own purposes -- without considering the dignity of the Torah, the rabbi or the public.

In his fight against Rabbi David Stav over the chief rabbinate election, Yosef is conducting an evil, wicked battle, and directly contravenes the halachot (Jewish religious laws) prohibiting gossip and slander, which he knows by heart and whose severity he is well aware of.

It is beyond my understanding how the "great teacher of his generation," as his followers describe him, can use such harsh words ("an idol in the sanctuary, "worthless," and "dangerous to the rabbinate") against a man he does not know and whom he has never met. His impression of Stav is based solely on things he apparently heard from leaders of Habayit Hayehudi's Tkuma faction who came to see him.

It is a basic Jewish precept in the area of monetary law that both sides have the right to be heard by a rabbinical judge. But Yosef is "spilling Stav's blood in public" without granting him the basic right to be heard. It's hard for me to believe that Yosef is so naive as to not realize that even those Tkuma leaders whispering in his ear have their own interests.

The election campaign for Israel's chief rabbi daily besmirches the reputation of the Torah and its followers. As someone who frequently speaks to students, most of them secular, I am hard pressed to respond to their questions about rabbinic conduct and debasement of religion.

Over the past two decades, a serious battle has been waged in Israel over the Jewish and democratic character of the state. There are some who wish Israel to be merely democratic. Yosef, Rabbi Haim Drukman, and their lackeys are causing Judaism to lose the battle. The masses of Jews who feel a connection to Judaism, who long to bask in its light and hear the word of God, are instead served by their rabbis with overflowing plates of hatred, manipulation and destructive passions.

It is very possible that Yosef's anger at Stav is connected to the fact that "secular people like [Stav]," as he has accused. From Yosef's point of view, this is a drawback, but from Torah's point of view, it is a tremendous advantage. For the first time in the history of the chief rabbinate, the secular public is involved and seems to care about who gets elected. The rabbinate is the mirror of Judaism, especially for secular Israelis. Its role is to reflect the greatness, power and necessity of Jewish law in a way that is warm, open and welcoming.

Out of respect for the Torah and for Yosef, I beg you, associates and politicians, leave him alone. Give the man a break. Don't embarrass him for the sake of your own self-interest. Relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another place [Esther 4:14]. Please try to satisfy your hunger for positions and money elsewhere.

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