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September 23, 2014 / 28 Elul, 5774
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Rav Ovadia’s Son to Netanyahu: You Hurt Dad’s Feelings

The prime minister was embarrassed during a shiva visit to the mourning children of the great man.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paying his respects to the family of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef at the shiva in Jerusalem. Two of the sons turned out to have some unfinished business with the visiting leader.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paying his respects to the family of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef at the shiva in Jerusalem. Two of the sons turned out to have some unfinished business with the visiting leader.
Photo Credit: Gil Yohanan/POOL/FLASH90

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara arrived at Hakablan 45 Street in Jerusalem around noon, Tuesday, on a shiva call to the children of the departed Rav Ovadia Yosef, and was greatly surprised when the sons of the great man exploded at him, saying their father had been hurt by him, Kikar Hashabbat reported.

While Netanyahu was in the middle of his visit, one of Rav Ovadia’s sons, Rabbi Avraham Yosef, turned to him, and in a voice choked with tears said: “Half a year ago you were here, by us, you were present near Dad… Dad asked you very much… The world of Torah was very dear to him… It was like his last will…”

Rabbi Avraham Yosef was referring, of course, to the “decree” of drafting yeshiva students to the IDF, which Rav Ovadia fiercely opposed.

“We’re begging,” Rabbi Avraham Yosef told Netanyahu, “we’re asking, all of us, with our hearts, do what you can…”

At that point, another son, Rabbi David Yosef, exploded at the prime minister, saying: “Dad asked for your answer and didn’t receive it, he was very much hurt by that.”

Rabbi David Yosef continued: “Dad was very hurt by the fact that he did not receive a response to his request. All he heard [from you] was ‘I didn’t come [to discuss] this, only those words, and he was very hurt by it. He spoke to me afterwards and he was very much hurt.”

And Rabbi David Yosef continued, relentlessly: “We anticipate, we feel that this was the most important request for him. He told you in these very words, ‘I lost a son, but this pains me more.’”

Later, during Netanyahu visit, Rabbi David Yosef returned to the subject, saying: “He voiced some very harsh words on this topic, the yeshiva students’ draft, and he did not receive a response. We’re still waiting.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu, who appeared deeply embarrassed by the unexpected onslaught, responded: “We’re making efforts to unite the nation, to preserve the nation.”

To which Rabbi David Yosef responded: “To preserve the world of Torah, that’s what he asked.”

Earlier, Netanyahu told Kikar Hashabbat how much he would miss his visits to Rav Ovadia’s place, and how much he would miss Rav Ovadia himself, “a special man with a big heart, a great soul, a good spirit.”

Netanyahu also mentioned that the departed was a member of the association commemorating his own late brother, Yoni Netanyahu, who was killed during the hostage release in Entebbe, Uganda.

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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16 Responses to “Rav Ovadia’s Son to Netanyahu: You Hurt Dad’s Feelings”

  1. El Mundo de la Tora: conservarlo garantizará la supervivencia de Isarel y de la humanidad.

  2. Time for the Ultra Otrthodox to be part of Israel, and do their duty like others, and be conscripted

  3. Is this response of the Rav's z"l son out of pain at his passing (I doubt it as Rav O Yosef z"l was in his 90's and ill for some time). So we have it turned into politics again and again and again I was personally very hurt by the pre-election rhetoric that came from the Shas party in the name of the Rav z"l which was lashon harah and this was repeated and continues to be repeated. I (and perhaps many others) are left to believe that our religious leaders are not spiritual persons but politicans in disguise and this leaves the younger and future generations with little hope (as did Gush Katif where they were for the most part silent to the end!).

  4. truthseekr says:

    I still fail to understand why the drafting of charedi young men is such a terrible thing for these people. If the young men want to do army service, why shouldn’t they? It’s only a percent anyway, not all yeshiva backers. Besides, are they so removed from reality that they don’t see the harm they do to the unity of clal Yisrael? Many Israelis can’t stand the Charedi values, partly because of this stance, and that puts a bad light on the Torah these rabbis say they want to lift up. I distrust them mightily because they ignore the teachings of Torah on the responsibility to fight for the Land. What chutzpah that they should think the rest of Israel needs to support them AND protect them, without getting anything in return. So they study Torah all day? Without applying it, it’s worse than meaningless.

  5. How inappropriate that the sons used their Fathers death to speak of what they think their Father felt. They live in a country that needs every persons assistance in volunteering to do their part. You can't be a schnorer all your life!

  6. Violet Helms says:

    The grieving will say many things they will then be sorry for.

  7. Monica Pinto says:

    It is not the moment to speak during the shiva of what they want to impose to the Israeli society ! Shame . Their father was a saint but they are not !

  8. JacobM60 says:

    The draft of the bahure yeshiva is an issue to be discussed at the Kenesset and not at a mourning family.  It is disgraceful what Rabbi Ovadia’s children did. I believe that they behavior was against the “law of mourning”, such as “you do not take advantage of a mourner’s weakness”; here the weakness of the mourners became they strength: embarrassing Netanyahu and advancing political/religious requests while he was paying a shiv’a call.  Well, as regard Rabbi Ovadia zikhrono li-vrakha.

  9. Richard Sandler says:

    I think the son is an idiot….

  10. Richard Sandler says:

    an idiot….this is what he is thinking as he grieves for his father?

  11. Yechiel Baum says:

    Did the sons of Ovadya Yosef serve in the military or did they hide in the Beit Midrash so other sons should serve for them? I member that during the six day war, rather than give the soldiers some rest from fierce fighting and being wounded, rather than visit the wounded and pray for them, he insisted to visit the Kotel before anyone else which was not a time for that. Rabbi Ovadya Yosef was a genius of a man for Torah but in raising his sons in practicing Judaism and fight for Israel, there seems to be some oversight which the goyim laugh ar the Rabbi's who excumunicate themselves from the most sacred parts of our holy religion and decreed by Hashem.

  12. Yechiel Baum says:

    The Netanyahu family paid the ultimate sacrifice for Judaism by the death of Yoni in the rescue of the Jews from Uganda before they were killed however, did the Ovadiya boys serve Hashem in the same way to defend Jews physically by serving in the army – this is Hashem's army instead of publicly rebuking the Jewish leader to keep cowards from being in Hashem's army?

  13. Bear Klein says:

    Netanyahu paying respects and the sons bring up delusional politics of why they think they are better than other Israelis serving nation. Perhaps they should be forgiven because of their grief.

  14. Paul Hatgil says:

    If the Zionist felt that Uganda was the promised land why didn't they stay? At one time even Thessaloniki in Greece was considered the promised land?

  15. Menachem Rephun says:

    Simply incredible how you can all sit here and make sweeping indictments of Rav Ovadia's grieving sons, who are distinguished rabbis in their own right. Their judgment is clouded by grief, and even if you disagree with their political views you have no right to call them "idiots"

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