The Sephardi chief rabbi, Yitzhak Yosef, said Saturday night while teaching his weekly lesson that: “A person who eats non-kosher food, his brain becomes stupid, he can’t understand things, doesn’t get it. As soon as he starts keeping kosher, you can start to influence him."
Yosef, the son of former chief rabbi and founder of the Shas party Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, also discussed in his broadcast sermon the Yom Kippur prayer service that the Rosh Yehudi organization held in what appeared to be an attempt at gender segregation.
"We need to encourage them, bring them closer and bring them back to repentance. I am at the court, receiving cases and seeing what is happening in the secular public. They are dangerous. They have no satisfaction in life," he said. "All for the lust of this world. It's unbelievable, but they need to be brought closer together. What God's blessing is being done by all kinds of different organizations that bring them closer together - bringing them back in repentance. That's what needs to be done and that's what Maran did."
He added that "They are jealous of us. Everything is jealousy. They see the ultra-Orthodox public - they have holidays, they have children, they are with them on holidays. They have jealousy, everything stems from jealousy - and this jealousy develops hatred."
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid responded to Yosef's words. "In his words this evening, Rabbi Yosef changed the definition of his position. He is not the chief rabbi of Israel, but the rabbi of a loud minority who curses from the podium millions of Jews who serve in the army, risk and sacrifice their lives, work and keep this country alive He was right about one thing - they felt a little stupid tonight when they remembered that they were the ones paying his salary," Lapid said.
Chairman of the Yisrael Beitenu party, Avigdor Lieberman, said in response to Rabbi Yosef's words that "the only stupidity is that the secular public finances and pays a salary to a dark person like you." Knesset Member Gilad Kariv of the Labor party said: "These pearls from the chief rabbi's holiday sermon are more serious than anything like an incident that happened on Yom Kippur. The man holds a state office and works in the judicial police. I wonder if all those who condemn the unfortunate events of Yom Kippur in Dizengoff Square will condemn Rabbi Yosef's overreach in the same language, or will they continue to make pilgrimages to him."
On Saturday night, the chairman of the Degel Hatorah faction, Knesset member Moshe Gafni, said at the party's municipal election conference that "we are in a religious war - and what we saw on Yom Kippur in Tel Aviv is the proof." Gafni claimed that he met with the economists "many months ago" and they explained that the judicial overhaul would harm the economy.
"It's been a long time since then and the economy is excellent," Gafni claimed, although the consequences of last year's events on the economy are clearly visible. "I told them - you don't mean judicial reform, nor anything similar to that. You are waging a religious war against us."
According to Gafni "When you pray Kol Nidre' in Dizengoff Square, these people come and pull the prayer shawls of those who are there, so we are in the midst of a religious war. That is why we, the members of Degel HaTorah, are not interviewed by the media. It will not help anything. But let us explain, their war is not economic, nor security nor social, it is a religious war. This is how it should be treated and be careful not to say what is not necessary."
Gafni added: "I had a lot to say after the attacks on the latest budget transfers in the Finance Committee (transfer of hundreds of millions of shekels to ultra-Orthodox educational institutions), but that won't help, we got caught up in our vigil for a war over everything that is holy and dear to the people of Israel - and with God's help we will stand it."