A rift in Shas: In a rare move, party leaders have distanced themselves from Shas' spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef,
who ordered the party's journal, Yom Leyom
(Day to day), to publish a special edition negatively focusing on Naftali Bennett
and his party - Habayit Hayehudi.
"The things published in Yom Leyom were neither ordered nor authorized by a single person in Shas'
leadership, and represent only the opinions of it's authors," the party's three leaders said in a statement on Thursday. The paper was quick to respond, saying the attack on Bennett was orchestrated by Rabbi Yosef and his personal assistant.
Shas seems to have taken its campaign against Habayit Hayehudi up a notch, publishing a special edition of its party journal – Yom Leyom – dedicated in its entirety to anti-Naftali Bennett and Habayit Hayehudi op-eds.
"A political rookie and dreamer," Bennett was dubbed in one of the pieces, while another described his religious understanding as "Scraps of songs, crushed grains of dust," insinuating a secular naïveté commonly associated with Moses Mendelssohn, the philosophical father of the Reform Judaism, much despised
by the Jewish orthodoxy.
Moreover, the party itself was not spared. Addressing party members, the paper claimed that "the froth of hatred for the haredim and the religious world spewing from their mouths is never ending." And the party itself was described as being from "the other (bad) side."
In another article, which was not published, Bennett was described as wearing a kippa the size of a 50 cent coin.
Though not printed because of its pungency, the op-ed was leaked to the press, in what seems to be an attempt by some in Shas to deepen the rift between the two parties.
Yom Leyom is the official mouthpiece of Shas and the house of its spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
The "spiritual council" whose role is to censor and authorize material published in the party journal is composed of one man – Rabbi Tzvi Hakak – Rabbi Yosef's personal assistant.
Yosef's house confirmed that it authorized the journal's content,
with a source noting that in some cases the criticism was sharpened and even spiced-up.
The party leadership's disavowal of the edition revealed a rare public rift between the party's political leadership and its religious leader Rabbi Yosef with regards to Rabbi Hakak and the paper.
The tension between the camps had already been felt during the beginning of the election campaign, also in regards to the journal and its publication, but never as publicly as Thursday's incident.
"The attack against Bennett was okayed, if not ordered by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's house," one of the paper's editors said.
Akiva Novick is a Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth reporter
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