Shas’ spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, said on Saturday that the phenomenon of exclusion of women is considered blasphemy.
Rabbi Yosef made the comments in his weekly Saturday evening Torah class.
“We do not hate the secular, we love them,” he said. “We learn Torah in order to bring them closer. We love them. For us, the commandment ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ is as important as all of the Torah.”
He added, “We have to bring them closer and not drive them away. It is a mitzvah to bring those who are distant closer. There is no Jew who does not have a holy spark; even journalists have a holy spark in their heart.”
“The Second Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred, and how will the Third Temple be built? On the basis of unconditional love,” the rabbi said.”
Rabbi Yosef’s comments came following a huge rally on Saturday night, when hundreds of hareidi-religious Jews demonstrated in Jerusalem against what they said was the unfair treatment of them in the media over the past several weeks.
Rabbi Yosef also spoke out against the use of Holocaust imagery in the demonstration. Dozens of adults and children were wearing yellow stars with the word “Jude” on it – reminiscent of the Nazi era – while several children were wearing striped concentration camp uniforms.
The demonstrators said that the intention was not to compare Israel to Nazi Germany, but to compare the anti-hareidi sentiment and incitement to the anti-Jewish incitement in Germany before the Holocaust.7
The video below shows Rabbi Yosef’s remarks. Note: the video is in Hebrew.