Shas' Rabbi Yosef: Voting for Lieberman Gives Strength to Satan

Spiritual leader of Shas movement urges voters to back his party lest they 'suffer huge punishment'.

Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef once again lashed out at voters who plan on casting their ballots Tuesday for Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu faction. "Whoever votes for Lieberman gives strength to Satan," Yosef said in his weekly sermon late Saturday.

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"Whoever sits inside his home and does nothing [will] suffer a huge punishment," Yosef said. In an address that was televised and beamed via satellite to hundreds of Sephardic yeshiva students, he said: "You should know that this is your hour, the time to do for God, they have violated your Torah, go from house to house."

The spiritual leaders of United Torah Judaism also employed harsh words in an effort to rouse supporters to the polls during a pre-election gathering in Jerusalem.

In an unusual development, two spiritual heads of the Lithuanian "Degel Hatorah" faction, Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman, took part in the campaign rally. Also on hand was the head of the Belz Hasidic sect.

The rare appearance by the religious leaders was intended as a show of unity against the backdrop of the recent upheaval that has shaken the Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox political scene. Rabbi Elyashiv did not address the crowd, though his trusted aide, Rabbi Yosef Efrati, spoke on his behalf.

"There is an existential danger to matters of religion in the Holy Land," he said. "Whoever does not go to vote in practice casts a ballot for a secular party."

Anyone that does not vote "cannot say that our hands did not spill this blood and that I will evade service and won't vote," Rabbi Steinman said.

Also present at the gathering were UTJ members of Knesset as well as all the candidates for the next Knesset excluding MK Ya'akov Litzman. There were no representatives of the Gerrer Hasidic sect.