Sunday, October 5, 2008

R' Eliyashev vs. R' Yosef - election upset

JPost reported:

Last week, elections took place to choose the state-empowered body - the Chief Rabbinate Council - that is supposed to answer these questions.

The elections were an upset. The non-hassidic, Lithuanian-haredi rabbinic leadership, which gradually has been gaining more power within the Chief Rabbinate, suffered a major setback. Two of its veteran members, Rabbi of Rehovot Simcha Hakohen Kook and chairman of the Neighborhood Rabbis Council Moshe Rauchverger, who is also a neighborhood rabbi in the Haifa area, were voted out of the council.

Rauchverger and Kook, both connected to the Degel Hatorah party and adamantly backed by Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the supreme halachic authority of the haredi Ashkenazi community, were replaced by two rabbis who do not necessarily adhere to his decisions.

One of them, Rabbi Ya'acov Shapira, is a symbol of religious Zionism. He is the son of former Ashkenazi chief rabbi the late Avraham Shapira, considered the most important halachic authority of religious Zionists until his death a year ago. Shapira inherited from his father the position of head of Mercaz Harav Yeshiva, the flagship educational institute for religious-Zionist rabbis.

The other new face is Ya'acov Ruzah, rabbi of the Tel Aviv Burial Society and the L. Greenberg Institute for Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir. Ruzah's halachic decisions permitting autopsies in cases in which foul play is suspected has raised the rancor of more zealous elements of Orthodoxy, who argue that any mutilation of the body is desecration and blasphemy, since man is created in God's image.

But the major victor in last week's elections was Shas. The Sephardi-haredi party - led by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, considered the preeminent halachic authority for Sephardi Jewry - managed to get Yosef's son, Avraham, into the Chief Rabbinate Council, despite the opposition of the Lithuanian-haredi rabbinic establishment.

In a battle between two rabbinic titans, Yosef won out over Elyashiv. Since its founding in the early 1980s, Shas has been deferential to the Lithuanian rabbinic leadership. The very establishment of the party was orchestrated under the tutelage of Rabbi Elazar Shach, the charismatic, fiery leader of Lithuanian-haredi Jewry before the more low-key nonagenarian Elyashiv.[...]

However, in last week's vote, Shas could not back down to Ashkenazi demands. According to sources close to the rabbinate, Yosef is grooming his son, Avraham, rabbi of Ashdod, for the chief Sephardi rabbi slot in four years. Getting him elected to the Chief Rabbinate Council is an important step in that direction.[...]

The battle between Ovadia Yosef and Elyashiv will probably have little impact on the wider public. With or without Avraham Yosef on the council, heter mechira will continue to be implemented by the Chief Rabbinate. Jewish farmers would lose too much money if it were not. And the Supreme Court has already ruled in favor of these farmers against the previous Chief Rabbinate Council.

Rather, the struggle between Yosef and Elyashiv is for influence and power, and ultimately, for rabbinic hegemony. Yosef, the son of a grocer, wants to "return the crown to its rightful owner." Slowly but surely, he is succeeding. [...]


  1. It has never made sense that the Chareidi community would want to be involved with the Rabbanut, consider their lack of recognition of its authority. but while the Mizrachi were busy obsessing with Yesha, they took it over one election at a time and turned it into a puppet organization.
    This "setback" is actually a step forward for an independent Rabbanut which should acknowledge the diversity of opinion and practice in Torah Judaism.

  2. Why was it necessary to mention
    "Yosef, the son of a grocer" ? I found that quite distasteful.

  3. From what I've heard about the Rav Yosef, he'd disagree with you. He's apparently quite proud of his father's simple work and the high level of honesty he brought to it. He sees his background as a badge of pride.

    Don't forget: The first Rabban Gamliel was the son of a porter.

  4. Don't forget: The first Rabban Gamliel was the son of a porter.

    Yes. And I believe that porter's name was Hillel Hazaken.

  5. You're preaching to the choir. I wasn't referring to Rav Yosef himself, obviously, rather to the disrespectful tone/context of the statement by the author of the article.
    Not that the present-day 'yeshivish velt' seems to have adopted many of the attitudes / sacrifices for torah of the talmudic era. This is the age of the 'lexus-steak-armani-kollel', albeit on someone else's dime...
    (I only speak of N.America)

  6. Wish that Rav Zefani Drori got in, he is a giber, talmid chocham and ohev yisroel.


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