Rabbi Shimon Baadani, a member of Shas' Council of Torah Sages, provided on Saturday evening amazing explanations for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's illness.
"Ariel Sharon had a stroke because he went with Shas and hurt religious services," Baadani explained during a sermon he gave at a Jerusalem synagogue.
The rabbi also promised "hell to those who don’t vote Shas," thus extending the remarks of Shas' spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who said at the beginning of the month that heaven awaits only those who will vote for the party.
Baadani also referred to the public's apathy toward the elections, saying that "we are facing an important battle. In the previous elections Shinui got more Knesset seats than Shas and therefore we were not made part of the coalition. We had a tough time and were in despair."
"For us these elections are in favor of the yeshivas, the ultra-Orthodox junior schools, the mikvahs (ritual baths) – so how can we be indifferent? Our job in the Knesset is to stop the destruction among the people of Israel, and therefore we allow ourselves to enter this 'golden calf.' Otherwise, what do we have to do with the legislative body? The Torah of Israel is our law," he said.
Shinui: Only hell is Shas' return to government
Baadani usually delivers his sermon before Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's sermon. His remarks
caused an embarrassment in Shas, although the party leaders are familiar with the rabbi's opinion. However, Shas officials explained that his words will not harm the party's election campaign.
Baadani is considered to be a very active member of Shas' Council of Torah Sages. He is known as an assertive person who says his piece even if his words may stir a row. Baadani often consults Shas Chairman Eli Yishai. He is involved in politics and mainly deals with the movement's education system.
Shinui said in response to the rabbi's remarks Sunday morning that "the only hell one can think about is Shas' return to the government. Shas' leaders cannot retrain themselves and hide their real face. Behind Shas' mask hides a terrible movement that wants to take the Israeli society back to dark places of curses and witchcraft."
Meretz-Yahad officials were also outraged by the rabbi's comments.
"After Purim Shas removed its mask, and after trying to portray itself as 'social' it has clearly been proven that it has remained a dark party of idolaters and cursers," Knesset Member Zahava Gal-On said.
Former Shinui member MK Avraham Poraz (Secular Faction), who was a minister in Sharon's government, said: "This remark once again proves the evilness and insensitivity of Shas' leadership. Even being in the opposition has not caused its leaders to learn some good manners, and Olmert must denounce the party after the elections."
Sharon Roffe-Ofir and Roee Nahmias contributed to the report