Is Ovadia Yosef Also an Ass?

Imagine what will emerge from his mouth at the end of the season of temptation, after the elections, after the bastion of education has fallen into his hands and those who do his bidding.

It is known that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is a "great Torah scholar." Ordinary people who mention him preface their words with a declaration of his greatness, which is famous and needs no further proof. Fine. But if Yosef is really a great Torah scholar, ripping up mountains and grinding them to dust, perhaps the Torah itself is smaller than imagined. It is not reasonable that the Torah is great and that he is as well, to judge by his statements and insights - among them, in his Saturday night sermon, the declaration that secular teachers are "asses."

Many recommend leaving him to his foolishness and ignorance. Any response, they say, only eggs him on to speak more, spitting out his repulsive crumbs of thoughts. They may very well be right. Nevertheless, he should not be let off the hook completely: The dignity of the teachers requires it.

We will also expect a proper presidential response from Shimon Peres, who only a few weeks ago publicly thanked God for favoring us with such an honored and inspired individual. When the rabbi does not come to the president, as is the case in proper countries, why are we surprised that the euphoria of the great Torah scholar overcomes his rationality? If someone wants to see the rabbi, he goes to the rabbi, as the popular saying goes. Peres wanted to go and did go to the rabbi, kicking up the dust as he went, and now that dust rises heavenward and covers all the little babies who have been taken captive by the goyim.

Once again, we will be told that we did not understand him, that we do not interpret correctly the law from Yosef on Mt. Sinai - not from the Torah, which speaks in the language of human beings, in our language.

But the glorious interpretation of his words has been dimmed of late, following the conviction of the righteous Shlomo Benizri for bribe-taking, and a substitute as successful as he is has not yet been found. Who will explain to us now that the rabbi meant his statements as a compliment?

Lacking outstanding interpreters, I offer my services: Yosef is obviously basing himself on the Gemara, and the Gemara states that if the greatest of our biblical ancestors were angels, then we are but human beings, but if the greatest of our biblical ancestors were only human beings, then we are asses. If that is the basis, what is all the fuss about? Our biblical ancestors were not angels, that is already clear. At most they were human beings, and that is no small accomplishment, either. Therefore, under the circumstances, as the generations are in decline, we are doomed to be asses. The rabbi did not mean to exclude himself from this rule, heaven forfend: He is also among the asses.

The closer elections come, the more everyone goes looking for votes. Shas is also searching for a kingdom for a whole term - a place for kosher squeezing of the next government, led by its spiritual leader. And no sooner has he set out on his wanderings than he encounters asses. It is the opposite of what happened to Saul, who went looking for asses and found a kingdom. Even kingdoms are not what they once were, there is something asinine about them these days.

And do not say this cannot be. Anything can be. And it certainly can be that one of the great rabbi's beadles will one day soon go looking for the post of education minister, which he will fill as ruled by his rabbi. They are seeking the kingdom of education, and they may yet find it if we do not look out for ourselves and our children.

During his weekly Saturday night sermon, Yosef also revealed to his followers the method of tempting people into believing and voting. "Do not insult them," he instructed. "Speak to them pleasantly, even if the compliments are not true. Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee." He even backed up his teachings with verses: "Reprove a wise man, and he will love thee."

He let the asses go and graze in the meadow, while he wants to respond to anger with soft words. Imagine what will emerge from his mouth at the end of the season of temptation, after the elections, after the bastion of education has fallen into his hands and those who do his bidding.

Woe to us if this is the guide of the generation and of its perplexed; if this is the great Torah scholar. The "Land of the Hart" has disappeared, and Ovadia Yosef is king of the land, the land of the ass, ruling in a black skullcap.