Rabbi Shai Piron (Yesh Atid) apologized Saturday evening for a statement he made Wednesday regarding the influence nationalist rabbis will have in the next Knesset.
Speaking at a round table discussion held at the Israel Democracy Institute, Rabbi Piron said: "The next Knesset will have the most hareidi-nationalist MKs in the history of the state of Israel."
"Rabbi [Dov] Lior and Rabbi [Zalman] Melamed will have the most enormous influence since the beginning of religious-Zionist politics," he added. "Thanks to Naftali Bennett's 'exit', there is a larger exit, and it is that of the extreme Right."
MK Uri Orbach (Bayit Yehudi) was quick to scold Rabbi Piron at the round table for speaking as he did about highly respected Torah sages. Rabbi Piron contended that Orbach himself says worse things about nationalist rabbis behind closed doors, but Orbach denied this.
Rabbi Piron told Arutz Sheva that the segment of the discussion that was published by Arutz Sheva's Hebrew website created the impression that he has personal criticism of Rabbis Lior and Melamed. "In order to remove any doubts, and without going into the general context of what I said at the conference," he said, "I wish to offer a complete apology, because I hurt the dignity of these rabbis."
"Disagreements on public issues must not lead to disrespect toward sages, especially when they are leaders with so much merit," he explained.
The "hareidi-nationalist" stream is a stream within religious Zionism that is both very nationalistic and very strict in its Torah observance. It is known by the term "hardali," a Hebrew acronym for hareidi-nationalist-religious. The acronym has a playful overtone because the word hardal means mustard.