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Shas rabbi to PM: Save world of Torah

Netanyahu pays condolence visit to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef following his son's death, asked not to draft yeshiva students

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday evening paid a condolence visit to Shas' spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who is observing the seven days of mourning over the death of his son, Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, last Friday.

 

Netanyahu arrived at Yosef's house in Jerusalem and was asked by the rabbi to "save the world of Torah."

 

The Shas spiritual leader pleaded with the prime minister not to draft yeshiva students, saying that even as he is mourning his son's death – his greatest grief is over the impact on the world of Torah.

 

The visit lasted about 15 minutes and was also attended by two of Shas' leaders, Knesset Members Aryeh Deri and Eli Yishai.

 

Netanyahu told the rabbi that he was very familiar with the difficult situation of a father burying his son, referring to his father, the late Benzion Netanyahu, who lost his son Yonatan in Operation Entebbe.

 

Yosef turns to president too

Earlier this week, President Shimon Peres paid a condolence visit to Rabbi Yosef too, and was also asked by the spiritual leader to "save the world of Torah."


נתניהו בביקור ניחומים אצל הרב עובדיה (צילום: יעקב כהן)

Netanyahu comforts Rabbi Yosef (Photo: Yaakov Cohen)

 

Upon the president's arrival, the rabbi broke into bitter tears and was kissed and embraced by Peres. The president said he knew his son, who he said was an unusual, modest and very special personality, and although he had "different' opinions, according to Peres, he expressed them in a pleasant way.

 

After the president got up and comforted all the family members, Rabbi Yosef called him over and broke into tears again. "I would like to take this opportunity to ask you, to beg you, as a simple person: Know that the world of Torah is what holds the Jewish people," he said. "Influence them not to hurt it. This is what holds the Land of Israel."

 

Peres calmed him down and said that he had never changed his opinion on this issue, since the days of David Ben-Gurion, and had never raised his hand against yeshiva students, and will continue to do so.

 

He added that it was his grandfather's will. When Peres bade farewell to him at the age of 11, on his way to the Land of Israel, his grandfather told him, "Stay a Jew, and a Jew means to keep studying Torah."

 

Disagreements over Halacha, politics

Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, 66, died Friday at the Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center in Jerusalem after a 15-month battle with cancer. Although doctors determined that he was suffering from a terminal disease, he refused to give in to the pessimistic estimates that he would not live long.

 

Since learning of his illness, he strengthened his connection with his students and delivered more and more Torah lessons.

 

In recent weeks, the rabbi's condition deteriorated significantly and was hospitalized several times, yet he didn’t stop teaching and studying.

 

Mass prayers for his recovery were held in different places across the country, including at the Western Wall plaza last month. Friday saw a further deterioration in his condition, and he was rushed to the hospital, where he was anaesthetized and given artificial respiration. His family members were summoned to his bedside for his final moments.

 

His relationship with his father were complicated and had ups and downs, as the two had differences of opinion on halachic and political issues.

 

Rabbi Yosef Jr. served as a Knesset member on behalf of Shas, but later left the party and was known as holding right-wing opinions – some would even say radical – and was one of the leaders of the National Union.

 

Apart from his rabbinical activity, Rabbi Yaakov Yosef was involved in the past few years in two high-profile affairs – as the most senior rabbi to support the legal battle against racial discrimination in haredi educational institutions, and as one of those who signed on the conclusions of the book "The King's Torah," which discusses whether it is permissible for a Jew to kill a gentile.

 

He was even questioned by the police over the latter affair, but was not charged.

 

 


פרסום ראשון: 04.17.13, 13:49
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