Making his traditional holiday visit to the homes of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef
and the Chief Rabbis Amar and Metzger on Sunday, President Shimon Peres
said that launching
the flow of natural gas from the Tamar natural gas field during Shabbat was "a mistake."
Haredi media asked the president whether he thought it was right to launch the gas flow on Shabbat to which he responded: "No, in my opinion it isn't (right). It was a mistake. I don't know why they made the decision," Peres responded.
Peres took the opportunity to Praise Delek Group
owner Yitzhak Tshuva
for his "initiative, tenacity and vision," which led him to find an American drilling company at a time when "no one was too thrilled about digging here."
The president expressed hope that the water channel would also go ahead in the future. "The Jewish world always preferred values to assets, but now that we have assets too, we need to invest them in values – Torah study, closing the social gaps and education.
"I wish it would help us get rid of poverty," the president said in his comments about the natural gas reservoirs.
Accompanied by the rabbi of the Western Wall, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, the president launched his traditional visit which takes place during every Sukkot and Passover holiday at the Jerusalem home of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. Shas
party leaders and Knesset Members Eli Yishai and Aryeh Deri were also present at the meeting.
Commenting on the issue of haredi enlistment in the IDF
, Rabbi Ovadia said "When (the nation of) Israel
studies Torah, G-d watches over them and saves them for calamity. All those who hate us, their swords will skewer their hearts and their bows shall be broken."
Peres agreed and added: "Torah must be maintained, so that it will watch over us."
Visiting the Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, Peres expressed support for a proposal known as "Amar's law," which enables a chief rabbi to run for a second term in office.
"May we live to see you as chief rabbi for many years to come. There are four months, that's enough time to pave the way forward. You bring light to the nation of Israel, and honor to the Torah, you do much to promote peace in our country among ourselves and with our neighbors," Peres said.
The government recently confirmed a four month extension of the two chief rabbis' terms in office.
In response, Rabbi Amar wished the president "a long life in his kingdom," and noted that his name precedes him throughout the globe, that he brings honor to the State of Israel and the Jewish nation. Moreover, the rabbi asked the president to work to end conflict within the nation, especially on the matter of haredi IDF enlistment.
The Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger also expressed his concerns over the escalating schisms within the nation and asked the president to put together a forum for dialogue, in cooperation with the Chief Rabbinate and leaders from all sectors of Israeli society, to discuss burning issues.
Peres expressed willingness to support the initiative but stressed that it could only go ahead if all sectors of society took part, including the Jewish Diaspora.
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