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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Chief Rabbi of Tsfat’

Dirty Politics: Govt. Targeting Candidates for Chief Rabbi

Friday, July 12th, 2013

For the record, I have to state that I don’t think Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, currently the chief rabbi of Tsfat and a major candidate for Sephardi chief rabbi of Israel, will make a good chief rabbi. He just doesn’t have the sophistication and familiarity with the culture at large that’s a crucial prerequisite for the job.

I also vehemently disagree with his position on Jewish-Israeli relations. Rabbi Eliahu has famously ruled that people should not rent their apartments to Arab students in Tsfat, and that people should also not sell land to non-Jews. “In Tsfat the halachic ruling worked, praise God,” he was recently quoted in Ha’aretz, adding that “neither the religious nor the secular” sell apartments to Arabs in his city.

I disagree with the good rabbi because I don’t think Torah forbids selling or renting to non-Jews. I think he is doing damage to the reputation of religious Judaism by substituting his own nationalistic thinking for our tradition of protecting the monotheistic stranger.

Having said that, I am appalled by the notion that a rabbi, or any person, really, would be summoned to an interrogation of his views by the state’s attorney general, in order that the latter decide whether to approve his candidacy.

This week, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein sent Rabbi Eliyahu a letter stating, “It appears that your choice to serve at the highest level is likely to be found unsuitable and to raise legal difficulties.”

Among the quotes appended to the AG’s letter was one from an interview with Arutz Sheva: “The Arab students at the Tsfat Academic College must be thrown out,” Rabbi Eliyahu told the website. “Yes I am saying this explicitly and I’m not afraid of anyone – only someone who has shifted his loyalty to the State of Israel has the right to learn.”

A week ago, Weinstein announced that he would hold a disciplinary hearing, should Rabbi Eliyahu decide to run for the chief rabbinate, because it’s a government position.

Mind you, it is well within the purview of the AG’s authority to vet a candidate for high office for whatever crimes and misdemeanors said candidate may be dragging behind him. But to disqualify a candidate for their opinions? What neighborhood of Moscow sprouted this particular gem?

I’ll be very sad to see Rabbi Eliyahu become chief rabbi, because I believe he will play right into the hands of the anti-Haredi media, and just add more reasons for secular Israelis to be disenchanted with the institution of the rabbinate altogether. Anything he will say will be misinterpreted without the benefit of context. He will do harm to the image of Judaism in the public at large, enhance the chasm between secular and religious Jews, and will still not understand what’s all the commotion. This is why I’m delighted that Jewish Home Pensioner Affairs Minister Ori Orbach and MK Nissan Slomiansky are against his nomination. But, alas, the rest of the faction supports him, because they figure that’s what their settler constituency wants. I’m not so sure it’s true.

But the intimidation of candidates for the chief rabbinate is getting not just to Rabbi Eliyahu. On Tuesday, Holon Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Avraham Yosef, also a leading candidate for the office, and the son of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, was questioned on suspicion of breach of trust in granting kashrut certificates of the mehadrin type to businesses that aren’t so mehadrin.

They kept him for eight hours in an interrogation room over that one.

I’ve no idea how the lost honor and reputation of the Israeli rabbinate can be restored. Maybe they should bring back Rabbi Israel Lau, the last chief rabbi who was also a popular figure with the public at large. I think Rabbi David Stav can do a fine job on the Ashkenazi side, but I’m not sure he has the votes.

These are unhappy times for religious and secular relations in Israel. Add to the criminalization of the rabbinate vote the fact that Haredim have taken to attacking their own kind should they dare don a uniform, and you’ll have to ask yourself why would a secular Israeli have any sympathy for things rabbinic. Of course, one can also stop reading the news.

Jewish Home Rabbi: We Are Not Against Haredim, We Are Against Shas

Friday, March 8th, 2013

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the chief rabbi of Tsfat and one of the most prominent rabbis affiliated with the Jewish Home party, called on party chairman Naftali Bennett to make an effort to add United Torah Judaism to the new coalition government, and leave Shas out.

In an editorial published this weekend in the Olam Katan shul freebee, Rabbi Eliyahu describes his visits over the past month to the homes of Hasidic leaders and prominent Haredi rabbis, to try and form a joint alliance between the religious Jewish parties.

“I sat down with members of the Knesset various factions, discussing unity. To this end, I asked them if they could commit in the name of Shas and Aryeh Deri not betray the alliance. No one could commit in the name of Aryeh Deri, no Rebbe and no MK, not even Shas’ own MKs,” Rabbi Eliyahu wrote.

He explained that he “would love to ally with the Haredim, but I don’t want to be fooled by such an alliance.” He added: “You can’t fault Naftali Bennett for refusing to seek with eyes closed shut such an entirely fraudulent deal.”

Nevertheless, However, Rabbi Eliyahu argued that “we should today form an alliance with Agudat Israel. They are our flesh and blood brothers. Even if they do not all serve in the army and if we’ve had occasional complaints against them in the past, they are our brothers. They are close to us about the issues of the Land of Israel, Shabbat, Chastity and the importance of Torah study. They are no less our brothers than anyone else.”

The chief rabbi of Tsfat argued in favor of finding a solution to the issue of army enlistment, but urged doing this through a “pact with Agudat Israel and not through coercion. We need to find a way to incorporate them in the agreement Jewish Home has with Yesh Atid. We can’t leave them out.”

“We have to cry out loud: We are not against the Haredim. We are only against those who sold us out in the Oslo Accords. We need to explain that not all the Haredim are the same. We should embrace warmly the Agudat Israel faction and bring it into the government,” he said.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/jewish-home-rabbi-we-are-not-against-haredim-we-are-against-shas/2013/03/08/

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