Many prominent rabbis have banded together, taking action to ward off possible embarrassment from materials that could be leaked as the fight between Shas and MK Eli Yishai rages on. Many rabbis have threatened any individual who leaks recordings from the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef with excommunication, calling such action “dishonorable.”
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A special rabbinic court was convened to discuss future possible leaks, in addition to the clip that was released by Channel 2 a week and a half ago, which depicted the party’s late spiritual leader criticizing former Shas chairman MK Aryeh Deri. The court also issued a harshly worded statement, signed by many rabbis including current Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, former Chief Rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron and Rabbi Shimon Badani, a member of the Shas Council of Torah Sages.
The rabbis, citing the “dishonor” done to Yosef’s memory, issued a statement meant “to warn those who would dare, from this point forward, to publish tapes or recordings of Maran [an honorific title for Yosef] that are not in line with his honor and values.”
The rabbis also threatened to “excommunicate and ostracize anyone who dared, from this point forward, to publish such recordings or tapes,” and called on “those who have already done so to go to the holy one’s grave to ask forgiveness, and retract the recordings.”
Jerusalem Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar is also involved in the election campaign, in attempts to mediate between the various factions within Shas. Hiddush, an organization promoting religious freedom in Israel, approached the attorney general with a request that Amar be prohibited from involvement. In response, Yitzhak Yosef’s office stated that “the rabbi is the son of Rabbi Ovadia and it is his right to oppose those who would harm his father’s honor in any way.”
The chief rabbi’s assistant stated that Yosef utilized a ruling from Maimonides that obligated him to make a declaration regarding his father’s honor.
Rabbi Amnon Bazak, a prominent religious Zionist rabbi, criticized the rabbis’ statement, saying “it was would have been fitting for rabbis uninvolved with the ordeal to discuss it. The rabbis’ halakhic [religious Jewish law] ruling in this issue is problematic as it makes it seem as if rabbis are using halakhic means to advance personal political interests.”