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Chief Sephardi Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef

Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef on Saturday night slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s intention to grant a general permit to the soccer industry to operate on Shabbat. in his weekly class at the Yazdim synagogue in Jerusalem, the Chief Rabbi said “we should pray for our leaders, that they will repent.” He also warned that such a permit would be “worse than the [infrastructure works of the Israel Railways that took place on Shabbat], where it was only workers, here it is all our Sephardim who fail and cause a huge desecration of Shabbat.”

The Chief Rabbi explained that “a committee of ministers is now sitting and they want to decide that soccer will have an official permit on Shabbat. That games would be permitted by law and not merely operating despite being prohibited.”

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“Woe,” he said. “What if there were soccer on Shabbat? There will be soccer everywhere. People will come in their cars.”

He argued that this would cause mass desecration of the Shabbat, especially among the traditional Sephardi public: “Our Sephardim, we worry about them; they are traditional people, they come to the synagogue. Should such a thing be permitted? It is much more serious that such a thing is done with a permit than without.”

The heads of the ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism were scheduled to meet on Sunday with Netanyahu, to discuss his intention to grant a general permit for soccer on Shabbat. Senior ultra-Orthodox sources have suggested the crisis will end without “any change in the current situation.”

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