During his weekly sermon on Saturday night, Rabbi Yosef said that Stav, chairman of the national-religious rabbinical association Tzohar who is considered a moderate rabbi, was "a danger to Judaism" and that appointing him to the Chief Rabbinate was like bringing idolatry into the Temple.
He explained that Stav was an "unworthy person," adding 'I have some information that he is not God-fearing at all."
Deri attempting to thwart nomination
In recent days, Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri has been fighting the "Amar Bill," which aims to allow Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar to seek a second term, despite Rabbi Yosef's support for Amar.
On Wednesday, Deri managed to significantly reduce the chances of the "Amar Bill" being approved by the Knesset by postponing a vote on the bill due to suspicions of an "Amar-Stav deal," which would lead to the appointment of the moderate rabbi as Ashkenazi chief rabbi.
Fearing that the bill would still be revived and approved before the Rabbinate elections hit the road, the Shas chairman decided to use his strongest weapon against it – Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
The government was expected Sunday to approve the establishment of the Rabbinate Election Committee, as promised in the State's response to the High Court of Justice following a petition filed by women's organization against the male dominance in the body selecting the chief rabbis.
Supporters of the "Amar Bill" hoped that the establishment of the committee would be delayed at the last minute in order to allow additional time for law amendments affecting the election process.
'Amar's name used to elect an evil man'
Rabbi Yosef said during his weekly sermon that Rabbi Stav's opponents in Religious Zionism and Habayit Hayehudi party had warned him against him.
"I don't know Stav, I don't know this man, I haven't seen him, but all his friends the National Religious Party leaders come to me and say: 'Beware, this man is a danger to Judaism…' People in his party testified that this man is a danger to Judaism, a danger to the Rabbinate, a danger to Torah – and I should keep silent? They want to make him a chief rabbi? This man unworthy of anything! Can they do such a thing?"
Rabbi Amar. His aides accuse politicians of 'trying to sow dispute and unfounded hatred between the greatest sages of Israel' (Photo: Issachar Ruas)
Rabbi Yosef praised the members of the Shas faction for torpedoing the approval of the "Amar Bill," saying that "everything they did was in God's name." He said that the party's representatives were "heroes" required to "prevent a disaster" so as not to "cause damage to the Jewish people, the holy people, the people of the Torah."
He added that "with all due respect to Rabbi Amar, who is a great person, a righteous and honest man, his name is being used to elect an evil person."
Yosef went on to slam the "secular support" for Rabbi Stav. "(Finance Minister Yair) Lapid and (Economy Minister Naftali) Bennett – some Torah haters – want to remove yeshiva students from their Torah," he said. "They want to draft them to the army, and suddenly everyone is shouting, 'We want Rabbi Stav.'
"If her were really a scholar, they would hate him… If Stav were good, they wouldn't touch him, they wouldn't look at him. But he is one of them."
'Suddenly all seculars like him'
According to Rabbi Yosef, in the past 30 years there has been no attempt to lift the restriction on a chief rabbi to run for another term, although there have been worthy candidates like Rabbis Mordechai Eliyahu and Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron. "Now change the law? Why? They love Stav, they love him," he said.
He concluded with the curse, "So may all your enemies perish, Lord," although it is unclear who he directed it at.
'I don't know Stav, I haven't seen him, but all his friends come to me and say: Beware' (Photo: Reuven Kapuchinski)
"At first I said they should support the law, change the law so that they could elect Rabbi Amar because he is worthy. But suddenly we hear declarations in the morning and in the evening from Lapid on one side, Bennett on the other side, (former Foreign Minister Avigdor) Lieberman on the third side: 'We have a promise to elect Stav…' Suddenly all the seculars like him… Lieberman, who hates, says 'Stav should be the chief rabbi.' Will he be the one to determine for us who will be the chief rabbi?!"
The weekly sermon was nearly canceled after Rabbi Ovadia felt bad. He eventually delivered a shorter sermon than usual, but did not miss the opportunity to attack Stav.
"How can I stay silent? How can I keep quiet? Because I want to flatter Rabbi Amar? Rabbi Amar is my friend, I love him… (But) they are putting an abomination in a holy place. (Stav) is an indecent person," he said, calling on the public to "pray for my health."
Amar's aides: Red lines crossed
Meanwhile, Rabbi Amar's associates implied that Shas Chairman Deri and Shas Knesset Member Ariel Atias had turned Rabbi Yosef against him.
"Unfortunately, political elements are attempting to sow dispute and unfounded hatred between the greatest sages of Israel.
Red lines have been crossed here on the part of politicians, who in order to promote their personal interests, are ready to harm the Rabbinate institution in Israel and all the values sacred to the people sitting in Zion.
"There is true love between Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and Sephardic Chief Rabbi Amar. No belligerent person will succeed in driving a wedge between the greatest sages of Israel, may they live long and happily."