Feb 10, 2013

War of words with Shas, Rav Ovadiah, and HaBayit HaYehudi

Shas is upset about a Dati Leumi weekly paper that they say has degraded Rav Ovadiah Yosef, the "poseik haDor".

The weekly "Matzav haRuach" - a paper I have not heard of before but it is probably more like a parsha pamphlet distributed in shuls rather than a newspaper, has published an article about the attack of Rav Ovadiah Yosef on HaBayit HaYehudi and Naftali Bennet in which the author said "a string of abusive comments from Shas, the type that one would not even hear from the last of the Basta-owners in Mahane Yehuda".

A senior Shas official said in response, that the original attack is clearly justified considering what they now wrote about Rav Ovadiah. "If this contemptible paper could shame the Gadol haDor like this, it seems Maran was correct when he attacked them and called them a Bayit of Goyim. I recommend to them to not wait for an apology from the poseik haDor."
(source: Kikar)

I love that response, and this entire post was really written just to point out that backwards logic - it was right to attack them initially and call them gentiles, among other things, because in response they retorted that Rav Ovadiah said things that were more abusive than anything even the crassest of people might say. That makes no sense and made me laugh when I first read it. Besides for that, they did not call Rav Ovadiah names, as he did to them, but criticized what he said. Perhaps it was still disrespectful, but it wasn't quite a degradation of the poseik hador.

With the headlines of all the papers today quoting Rav Ovadiah as now calling Yair Lapid a "menuval", I think it is time to call for our politicians and leaders to foment unity and, perhaps even more important and urgently, civility. They should deal with the issues, fight over policy, negotiate and debate and be obstinate, but with respect for each other, with civility and with honor.

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  1. This is the problem with the Charedi approach - anyone not cut out for Torah study goes into other things, so we get the most embarrassing behavior in the public eye. The secular public has no idea how holy our Gedolim are because they aren't busy politicking like those who left kollel.

  2. Holy like R' Ovadiah, Anonymous? He's a "gadol" who politicks more than anyone.

    It was over five years ago that I wrote a blog post suggesting that someone take R' Ovadiah aside and politely suggest that the time had come for him to stop talking in public.

  3. It seems to me that Shas is using Rav Ovadiah like a human shield. They can let loose with all of their ugliness and hatefulness against Bennet, Lapid, Yesh Atid, Beit Yehudi, or anyone else they consider a political threat, but when the attacked parties fire back, "oh my, look at what these horrible people are saying about the gedolim!"

    I think the real problem with the charedi approach is that they are so convinced that they are right, and that God is on their side, that anyone who opposes them in effect opposes God. Watching these people in action is very helpful in understanding how religious wars and inquisitions get started. We should hope it never comes to that here. But those kinds of things always start with rheteric, and move on from there.

  4. Methinks that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef shlit"a is suffering the onset of senility and is in his 93rd year now.

    May he live to 120 and enjoy the retirement he so richly deserves, but the time has come for him to pass on the reins to a younger rav.

  5. Rafi, I'll have to correct a few misunderstandings here:

    1) Rav Ovadia never called anyone names. He used "Bayit Shel Goyim" as a play-on-words to say that since they party doesn't necessarily follow rabbis - even their own rabbis - they cannot be considered a Jewish party, so how can we call them Bayit Yehudi? They should be called Bayit Shel Goyim! And he gave examples of this - the public transportation on Shabbat and the civil marriages. This is far from calling them names - this was stating a fact that their philosophy is krum since they don't follow Da'at Torah. Of course, Rav Ovadia won't call a person or group of people names, as this is Assur. He was calling the party philosophy a Goyish one.

    2) Gedolim have the right to fight for their beliefs - even if others perceive there to be a lack of civility. כל ת"ח שאינו נוקם ונוטר כנחש אינו ת"ח. Of course, Rav Ovadia has the utmost civility. More than us regular folk. It is unfortunate that others perceive this to be uncivil and they perceive this to be an attack against them personally. Rav Ovadia never attacked any religious person or religious Zionists in general. Rather, he attacked the BY party's anti-Torah views.

    3) It is also unfortunate that Rav Ovadia has been derided and badmouthed his whole life. I spent a couple Shabbatot in Ginot Shomron. The way they talked about Rav Ovadia there - I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy - and this was even before Oslo. So, when you say that Rav Ovadia started this fight, I wouldn't be so sure about that.

    4) Rav Ovadia is the biggest Oheiv Yisrael around. He worked tirelessly to get the Agunot of the Yom Kippur War unchained. He served the country as a chief rabbi with dedication - for all segments of society. I'm tired of people deriding him and saying that he needs to retire, etc. The statements you hear on the news are mere seconds of his weekly Shiur. He usually says these statements to energize his base, to tell you what Da'at Torah is, or to somehow relate it to the Shiur's main topic. His faculties are very much still with him, so may he live until 120 and lead us until Mashiah Tzidkeinu, Amen.

  6. 1. that is a very weak explanation.

    2. also very weak. he even attacked Bennet personally, scoffing at his "little eyes" and his little kipa.

    3. I didnt say he started the fight. I know there is animosity all around. My call leaders was all leaders. I criticized the disrespect on both sides, though Rav Ovadiahs was more direct and personal (unless someone accepts your explanation)

    4. I agree his psak is well respected, and he is not considered an extremist in psak. he is known to try to resolve bad situations and not be overly machmir when it makes it difficult for people.

  7. 1) Why? I thought it was good and true.

    2) I don't consider it weak at all. Yes, it's true - he attacked Bennet, so I stand corrected, but only as someone who represents his party philosophy in the effort to get normal Shas voters not to vote for him. Some people were voting for BY b/c they liked Bennet. Rav Ovadia needed to correct this mistake.

    Anyways, no one likes Ahdut more than I do. People should not confuse Rav Ovadia's words with divisiveness. They were meant to show people the correct path. Rav Ovadia considered the way he speaks the most effective way to do that. Some DL people got offended in the process. They should take his words as Mussar - not offense.

  8. I actually no longer believe in the call for achdut. I have come to learn that when people are opposing each other, rightfully or wrongfully, and one side calls for achdut, it is usually a call that the other side should accept "my" position due to achdut. such calls are not really genuine (many times).

    My belief is to call for mutual respect despite differences.

  9. I agree. Which is why Lapid is so dangerous.

    True Ahdut will only come with a major event or threat preceding it.


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